What Should the Bears Do? “Run, Run, Run the Ball.”

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

I keep hearing guys say “run, run, run the ball.” Didn’t they try that during the early Mitch Trubisky development stage and teams just packed the box and dared Mitch to beat them in the air? — @nfrankie5

The Bears have to have success running the ball. They have to be balanced on offense. They have to keep defenses off balance. They need to be able to set up play-action and bootleg opportunities for Trubisky. Absolutely, they have to run the ball more effectively. Maybe, just maybe, the success they had in Sunday’s loss in Green Bay can carry over to this week’s meeting with the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field.

Biggs is right on here. The only hope the Bears have, especially under the conditions at Solder Field in December, is to run the ball.

And I truly believe that this was the game plan on Sunday against a Packers defense that not only struggles to defend the run, but has a defensive coordinator who actually doesn’t believe it’s necessary.

That’s not an exaggeration. Mike Pettine is known to believe that explosive plays in the passing game are what lead to defeats. Despite the lesson taught him by the 49ers in the playoffs last year where they ran over the Packers in an ugly loss, he really doesn’t believe a team can win by simply running the ball and that they have to pass. If you can stop that, you’ll come out on top on the score board.

And the pathetic thing is that he’s often proven right, as he was at Lambeau Field over the weekend.

The Bears almost certainly came out of the bye week thinking that the way to get back on track was to play complimentary football. That meant getting Trubisky under center and to start by running the ball. And it looked to me like it might have worked. From veteran columnist Dan Pompei at The Athletic

  • The offensive line reshuffling — Cody Whitehair to left guard, Sam Mustipher to center, Alex Bars to right guard and Germain Ifedi to right tackle — wasn’t all bad. They might have stumbled onto some solutions there.
  • It was a rough night for Charles Leno Jr., who looked like he was playing hurt.
  • If every player on the Bears’ roster performed like David Montgomery , that’s a W. He’s never run better.

The problem is that when you try to execute such a plan, you are also leaning on your defense to hold the score down. When that didn’t happen, the game plan flew out the window. With the Bears behind, they were forced to pass and play right into Pettine’s hands. And that put the contest into Trubisky’s hands. Game over.

But that didn’t mean that the game plan was flawed. It just didn’t work on what turned out to be a miserable night for the defense. That shouldn’t happen in most games for the Bears. In most games with an ordinarily very good defense playing to its potential, a patient, down hill run game that opens up play action passing almost certainly seems to be the way to go.

Let’s put it this way. Would you rather see the Bears play like they’re the Chiefs and try to throw the ball all over the field in an effort to work a pass first offense that they don’t have a quarterback to execute? Head coach Matt Nagy would almost certainly love to do that. But I think he’s smart enough to know that the conditions aren’t right for it and to adjust to what he has.

Will the Lions pack the box if the Bears find success running the ball? Man, I hope so. Because that would be a huge improvement after what we’ve seen in the last 6 games with Nick Foles in the shot gun where teams did nothing special to stop an anemic Bears rushing attack.

I don’t know if the Bears would pass the ball better in such a situation. But it would almost certainly mean seeing inline tight end Cole Kmet and running back David Montgomery matched up on linebackers. And that can do nothing but help.

So sorry, Frankie. My message to the Bears is to “run, run, run the ball.”

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