- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007

Eight months after playing for the Lombardi Trophy, the Chicago Bears are in serious danger of falling out of playoff contention.

Chicago is 1-3 after losing 37-27 to perennially downtrodden Detroit last week.

The Bears have struggled in every offensive category, averaging just 3.3 yards a carry, giving up 15 sacks and committing 15 turnovers.

Next up is a visit to Green Bay, where the Packers (4-0) would love to put their archrivals in the rearview mirror to stay.

Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre boasts an 8-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio and a 97.3 passer rating. It hardly seems a great matchup for a decimated secondary. Free safety Mike Brown is out for the year, and the Bears also could be without strong safety Adam Archuleta (hand) and cornerbacks Charles Tillman (ankle) and Nathan Vasher (groin).

“We need to pull it together, find a way, injuries or no injuries,” said defensive tackle Tommie Harris, who played against the Lions with a sprained knee. “We’re too good for this.”

Coach Lovie Smith benched quarterback Rex Grossman after a 34-10 home loss to Dallas on Sept. 23, but veteran Brian Griese wasn’t much of an improvement against Detroit. Receiver Muhsin Muhammad, 34, is showing his age, leaving Bernard Berrian as the only outside threat. After offensive coordinator Ron Turner called 52 passes and just 22 runs against Detroit, Smith vowed to re-emphasize the ground game.

“When you’re 1-3, the first thing you do is look to get back to what you believe in,” Smith said. “We have to run the football.”

That sounds easier said than done even against Green Bay’s average run defense. Cedric Benson, who shared the load the past two years with the since-departed Thomas Jones, has lost three fumbles and is averaging just 3.2 yards a carry. The veteran line has collapsed, particularly at the tackles; Fred Miller looks every bit of his 34 years and John Tait hurt an ankle against Detroit.

“We’re not doing the same things that we’ve done,” Miller said. “I don’t think we’re getting enough running calls. That gives our defense a chance to … stay fresh, and when that [happens] they definitely cause a lot of havoc and come up with some big turnovers, and that’s our recipe for winning.”

Seems like the recipe’s ingredients have passed their expiration date. The Bears are in line to become the 14th straight Super Bowl loser to fail to get back.

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