Bears look for similar turnaround after second 1-3 start in 3 years

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A quarterback change. A stalled running game. A banged up defense.

Nothing has gone the way they anticipated, but if the Chicago Bears are looking for some comfort, for a reason to believe, all they have to do is jog their memory a bit.

Two years ago, they were 1-3 and things turned out quite well. They won their next eight games and captured the NFC North title.

And here they are with the same record heading into Sunday's game at Green Bay (4-0), hoping to make the right turn again at a similar crossroad.

"That's all we have is hope," defensive tackle Tommie Harris said.

And a sense of urgency.

"I hope so," quarterback Brian Griese said.

And a chance to get back into the division race.

"I think it can be a big one," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "It could go either way for us this game, I think. It's definitely not a make or break game -- 1-4 doesn't put us out of it either, but we definitely want to get this one at their place in our division. That would be a good start for us."

So far, it's been anything but a good start for the Bears - particularly for an offense that ranks 30th at 245.8 yards per game. They have been looking for someone, anyone, to make plays. Not necessarily big plays, but enough to keep the chains moving.

Rex Grossman couldn't do it, so the Bears turned to Griese and the results weren't pretty.

He completed 34 of 52 passes for 286 yards while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions in last week's 37-27 loss at Detroit. The 52 passes tied for third-most in team history and jarred just about every Bear, including the quarterback.

"This league is about balance. There's no question about it," Griese said. "For us, we need to continue to work toward that balance."

The Bears have relied mostly on the run since the Sid Luckman era, but evidence suggests a team can overcome a poor rushing game and win with the pass. In fact, the evidence will be staring right at them on Sunday, when they face an opponent averaging a league-low 54.2 yards rushing.

True, having Brett Favre at quarterback certainly helps the Packers, but they're using more short passes to compensate for their running game. Griese may be a better fit than Grossman for the short passing game, and that could give the Bears the efficiency that they're not getting from the run.

"That's working for them," wide receiver Bernard Berrian said. "As far as us, we want to get our running game going. That's how we get a lot of our big plays, coming off play-action. We've got to get everything rolling."

So far, Cedric Benson has just 239 yards and is averaging 3.2 per carry. That's not what the Bears had in mind when they handed him the ball following the Thomas Jones trade.

They can't rely on their defense to bail them out, the way they did in the past.

Former Pro Bowl safety Mike Brown, the emotional leader, and starting tackle Dusty Dvoracek suffered season-ending knee injuries in Week 1 at San Diego, and Bears continued to go down.

Safety Adam Archuleta (broken right hand), linebacker Lance Briggs (hamstring) and cornerbacks Charles Tillman (ankle) and Nate Vasher (groin) all sat out the Detroit game with injuries.

Briggs pleaded guilty Thursday to leaving the scene of an accident after crashing his Lamborghini alongside a highway in late August, resolving one big issue hanging over the team, but the injury picture remains unclear. He did not practice on Wednesday, nor did Vasher and Tillman.

Vasher hasn't run since injuring himself against Dallas two weeks ago and is not sure when he'll be back, while Tillman continues to limp.

"I really can't say it's a day-to-day type thing," Vasher said. "But I am making progress with my rehab and want an opportunity to get out there and play."

Archuleta practiced on Wednesday and pronounced himself "good to go" against the Packers, even though he's still wearing a soft cast.

"We'll go out there, throw my body around a little bit and see what happens," Archuleta said. "We'll see how it goes, but I don't think it'll be a big deal."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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