Punching it in: Bears work on red-zone offense

Chicago's Josh McCown throws passes during pre-game warm ups at Soldier Field Sunday. H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com
Chicago's Josh McCown throws passes during pre-game warm ups at Soldier Field Sunday. H. Rick Bamman - [email protected] — H. Rick Bamman

LAKE FOREST — The fact that Robbie Gould has been pretty much automatic in field goals (19-for-20) this season is all well and good, but the Bears would prefer touchdowns.

In the first eight games this season, Marc Trestman’s offense converted 19-of-30 red-zone trips into touchdowns (63.3 percent) and was 11-for-16 in goal-to-go situations.

The past two games, however, have seen the Bears stall near the goal line, which helped cost them in the loss to the Lions.

“In that last game, we didn’t get [a touchdown] in the red zone that first trip down there,” Josh McCown said after Thursday’s practice.

“Those things that really eat at me because at the end of the day, you want to find a way to get in the end zone,” he said. “You’ve got to get your team in the endzone and you can’t go down there and take three all the time.”

In the past two games, the Bears are 2-for-8 in getting touchdowns in the red zone (25 percent) and an ugly 0-for-3 in goal-to-goal situations, which doesn’t include their inability to convert on a pair of two-point conversion attempts against the Lions.

Trestman said the team worked on the red zone Thursday, specifically on one throw that can be lethal near the goal line.

“We’ve got to do a better job of throwing back shoulder fades and doing the things that we’ve been able to do during the season,” he said. “... We’ve just got to be more consistent at it. So we made a point, not only in fades, but all the different routes we run in the red zone to try to prepare us for tomorrow really which is our red zone day.

“We did a lot of one-on-one today in the red zone and in the tight red zone as well, just to practice it not only from an offensive standpoint but from a defensive standpoint as well.”

As good as McCown has been, he can improve his efficiency in the red zone. He is 5-for-13 throwing in the red zone (38.5 percent), compared to Jay Cutler’s rate of 22-for-44 when he’s inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. The Rams are 15th in the league in red-zone defense, allowing 19 touchdowns in 35 red-zone trips.

Matching “freshness”: Trestman shortened Thursday’s practice, wanting to give his team a little more rest, as the Rams are coming off a bye. “[The Rams’] defense is going to be fresh,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “So we’ve made an emphasis this week of having them not come in on Monday, giving them a break, telling them to stay off their feet, stay at home, rest, study tape on their iPad, but don’t get up. And then we cut practice this week, some reps, to try to get our guys as fresh as we can.”

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