- Associated Press - Friday, December 17, 2010

LAKE FOREST, ILL. (AP) - Coordinator Mike Martz’s offense has had its ups and downs in his first season in Chicago.

The running game has struggled at times, quarterback Jay Cutler has taken hard hits and last week, nothing looked good in the 36-7 drubbing at the hands of New England during a cold, snowy day at Soldier Field.

Just the same, Martz has found a bit of a comfort zone. Before the loss last weekend, the Bears had won five straight games and scored at least 22 points in all but one of them.

“I think it shows us what it’s going to take to play at a real high level and beat those teams come playoff time,” tight end Greg Olsen said of the loss to New England.

“There are some real good teams out there. We felt going in that we were one of them and we still do, but we realize that we have some work to do and there are some things we need to clean up before we face those caliber of teams again.”

The Bears seemed unconcerned about Sunday’s four-turnover stumble _ including three by Cutler _ against the Patriots as they prepare for Monday night’s outdoors game against the Minnesota Vikings at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.

“December is whenever you want to get hot and get on a streak,” Cutler said. “We’ve just got to put it past us. We can’t dwell on that. We can’t think about it. We can’t make it more than it was. It was one game. We would have liked to have won it, obviously we would have liked to have played better but we didn’t. We’ve got to move on to Minnesota.”

The Bears’ passing attack was anything but hot with 138 net yards on Sunday, and Cutler lost a fumble and threw two interceptions.

Asked if he could take anything from that game into Monday night’s matchup with NFC North Division-rival Minnesota, Cutler said, “No.”

In typical fashion, Martz wasn’t as certain.

“We had three pretty good drives in the second half and we only got a touchdown on one of them,” Martz said. “A lot of mistakes early, costly mistakes against a team will put you in a hole, which they did.”

Martz suggested Cutler could have done a better job of getting the ball to wide receiver Devin Hester, who has three catches for 18 yards over the past two games.

“That was one of Devin’s better games,” Martz said. “He really did an outstanding job even though we weren’t able to get him the ball like we wanted to. We address it and make corrections. These things happen. New England got beat by Cleveland 34-14, so it’s all part of the game. There are just a few things we need to clean up.”

There are other problems that need addressing. The running game, which Martz had made a bigger part of the offense at times, gained 47 yards, and Olsen has become a non-factor in the offense the past three games. One of Cutler’s favorite targets earlier in the season, Olsen has had one catch in each of the past three games for 20 total yards.

Until now, Martz had run his offense with dome teams in St. Louis and Detroit, and also in San Francisco. Some wondered how he would fare trying to run a pass-oriented, timing attack in the wind, snow and cold that can dominate late-season games in Chicago.

Martz admitted the surface at Soldier Field last week caused his team problems.

“With the surface, obviously we needed to deal with that,” he said. “The only time it becomes a concern is during warm-ups, you have to look and see how your players are adapting to it and change shoes if there’s an issue.”

So is Martz worried about Monday’s weather affecting his game plan?

“Not really, we carry such a pretty good (play) list in the event that we need to move based on what the defense does anyway,” Martz said. “So there’s enough flexibility in the game plan any week to really adapt I think.”

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