The Chicago Bears offense has a litany of issues they need to work out. That isn’t a secret. Their running game is completely absent. The offensive line play has regressed. The quarterbacks can’t seem to find a consistent rhythm. What could the problem be? Head coach Matt Nagy said it’s a number of things but there was an interesting one that he has harped on repeatedly even before the team’s defeat at the hands of Oakland last Sunday.

“Again, the start of the game on offense. They drive down the field on offense, they get a penalty and now they got to punt. We get the ball and we’re getting first downs and then – boom – penalty. Then – boom – another penalty. Now all of a sudden it’s 3rd and 20. That’s hard. It’s about a start. How do you start?”

He’s correct. One persistent theme above all others so far this season for the Bears has been slow starts on offense. Through five games to this point, the team has exactly one offensive touchdown in the 1st quarter. One. They have four in the 1st half total. Last season the Bears didn’t have this problem. In 2018 they scored 11 touchdowns in the 1st quarter. They are currently on pace to score three in 2019.

People always say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Well that’s true somewhat, but winning become a lot harder in the NFL when constantly having to overcome sluggish starts which often sees an opponent get the lead first. That’s what happened in London and against Green Bay in the opener. Both of their losses this year.

Chicago Bears offense needs to overcome their mistakes

So what gives? Why is the team struggling to find their groove? Nagy provided the evidence. Penalties. They’ve been an absolute killer for the Bears so far this season. Every time it seems like they get some momentum going, they’re hit by a penalty. Through five games, the offense alone has committed 16. Five of which have come in the 1st quarter alone. That is not a recipe for success in this league. The biggest culprit to this point is left tackle Charles Leno.

His undisciplined start to this year is alarming. Last season Leno was flagged six times in 16 games. This season he’s already been flagged eight times. It’s rather incredible to think about how quickly his efficiency has fallen apart. Sure there are other guys who are struggling, but few have consistently set the offense back than Leno. He needs to get his head on straight if this thing is going to get off the mat in the final 11 games.

If Nagy is going to start anywhere over the next two weeks in fixing this offense, he needs to start cracking the whip on discipline. It’s one thing for the opposing defense to beat you. It’s another if you beat yourself. That is what happened against Green Bay and again with the Raiders. Faster starts should mean better flow and execution over the course of the game. This is what they need to shoot for.