Bears Running Game Is a Work in Progress with Apparent Change in Scheme

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune shares 10 thoughts after the Bears loss on Sunday

“I’m surprised the Bears don’t have better rushing totals through two games. That looked like an emphasis of the off-season to me: Add DJ Moore and other wide receivers, but maintain an identity as a powerful rushing offense. They struggled running the ball against the Packers and we covered that ground — seven of their 14 runs on first-and-10 against Green Bay went for 1 yard, no gain or a loss. There were only 16 carries in this game for 67 yards. Tampa Bay’s a tough front to run against and rookie Roschon Johnson’s 29-yard run was the only time a back got through to the third level.”

One of the things that Adam Hoge mentioned on the Hoge and Jahns podcast was that the Bears aren’t running as much outside zone as they were last year. It was a good point. This was supposed to be the foundation of the running game last year and they ran it a lot. And this year we haven’t seen it.

I’m pretty sure that the Bears decided in the off-season that they wanted to transition away from outside zone to the power running game. They signed Nate Davis whose strength isn’t outside zone blocking, though I’m sure he can do it. But Davis strikes me as more of a downhill, power running game kind of blocker. Tevin Jenkins also fits this profile and Cody Whitehair, though not very big as a guard, is a reasonably large powerful guy at center. This would’ve been the interior of their offensive line on week one according to the Bears plan.

But that that plan has been completely disrupted. Jenkins is injured and Davis didn’t play Sunday. Without Jenkins they’ve shifted Whitehair to guard with Lucas Patrick at center. This is not an ideal combination and I think it completely threw the plan for the power running game off kilter.

It will be interesting to see where they go from here. Obviously whey think they can live with the combination that they have but the lack of success on the ground might call for a change.

I will add one thing. Eleven runs isn’t much of a sample size and ordinarily you’d like to keep pounding on the run throughout the game. After a while, eventually success often starts to come. I’m not saying that the Bears gave up on the run because they only had 27 plays. But they’re going to have to string together more attempts to build on if they want to see more success.

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