- Melissa Isaacson, Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
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At least their quarterback's grunts indicated some displeasure with the Chicago Bears' ghastly loss in Atlanta on Sunday night because it appears as if this is going to be another one of those seasons in which only the fans acknowledge when all is not well.
This is not to suggest that an all-out panic is called for in the wake of a one-touchdown loss that could've been much better, could've been much worse and really didn't tell us anything we didn't know:
Jay Cutler, talented as he is, is prone to bad plays in big moments. It happened in Green Bay. It happened in Atlanta. Even if it continues to happen in the red zone, it is unlikely it will prompt shouts for Caleb Hanie, and Cutler is still more likely to win games the Bears never would have won without him.
The Bears' running game is in a bad way. Really. And not just the scary left side, which at least does a little better job of protecting Cutler's blind side in pass protection. Running back Matt Forte is starting to look as if maybe he's not the same back he was last season, not as fearless, not breaking any tackles.
The defense will miss Brian Urlacher. Maybe not every week, but often -- particularly the Urlacher they thought they were going to get this season.
But we are not likely to hear that from coach Lovie Smith or general manager Jerry Angelo.
Smith on Monday did allow that the Bears "did not get enough production" from their running game, now ranked 27th in the league. But he quickly added, "We're 3-2, so the offensive line has done some good things. They contributed to all of that."
He also said he did not "foresee any major changes on the O-line" despite the fact that Josh Beekman, the starter at left guard last season, would appear to be a logical choice to at least be considered as a replacement for Frank Omiyale.
All we got from Lovie was: "We're evaluating everything like we do each week. No more than that. Josh has done a good job for us."
Demoting Omiyale, who had one NFL career start before signing a $14 million contract to play for the Bears, would be one of those moves that make GMs look bad. In other words, don't expect a change.
And don't expect anything of any consequence said of Cutler's interceptions (seven for the season, three in the red zone, along with 10 touchdowns and the 16th-ranked passer rating in the league at 86.9).
"'Don't do it,'" said Smith, in a rare moment of levity, when asked what he says to Cutler about the red zone interceptions. "We've done that. It's as simple as that. We can't have those interceptions down there, Jay realizes that. But he's trying to make a play."
Cutler led the Bears in rushing Sunday behind one 30-yard scramble, but Smith sounded almost offended when someone generously asked whether perhaps Forte's knee was bothering him.
"He didn't have a lot of production last night, the way a lot of us didn't," Smith said. "The week before, we weren't talking about these things. Matt will be fine, just like the rest of our team."
Last game, you may recall, Smith focused on the fact that Forte's 121 yards on 12 carries against Detroit equaled an average of more than 10 yards per carry rather than on the fact that 98 of the yards came on just two runs, one for 61 yards and one for 37.
And the Falcons' no-huddle offense, which first appeared in the second quarter, tangled up the Bears' defense and led directly to Atlanta's tying touchdown?
"It had us on our heels a little bit," Smith said, "but I don't think it affected what happened in the course of the game."
Smith reviewed Sunday night's game and saw "a lot of good things."
So maybe we should just accept that he prefers to focus on the positive. Or that he has forgotten more about football than any of us know and we should trust him.
Then again, maybe the Bears are just especially good at editing tape.
Melissa Isaacson is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.
Bears coach Lovie Smith preferred to accentuate the positive on Monday.