LAKE FOREST – Of all the negative things that came out of a forgettable three hours at Soldier Field on Sunday, there is one that stands out above the rest.
Seven carries. Seven!
That’s all the Bears had over the course of 60 minutes of a 35-26 loss to the Saints that drops the team to 3-3, rushing for just 17 yards on those carries. To make it worse, two of those attempts were fumbled away.
It’s the hottest of the hot button topics with the team – and even Nagy knows it.
“I know we need to run the ball more. I’m not an idiot. I realize that,” said Nagy. “I totally understand that. We need to do it. I never go into a game saying I want to throw the ball 54 times. I would love to go into a game and say I want to run the ball 54 times. But that hasn’t happened.”
Running it that much would be a bit excessive, but it’s safe to say that a little more balance will be the goal this week against the Chargers would be the goal as the Bears attempt to snap a two-game losing streak.
When informed of Nagy’s statement on not being an idiot and knowing the Bears had to run more, tackle Bobby Massey was in full agreement.
“Man, he speaks the truth,” said Massey. “We have to run the ball. We can’t be one-dimensional. We can’t do that in this league. We just need to get back to the drawing board. We have to run the ball at the end of the day, be able to do both, be multi-dimensional. You know, we’ll get it done.”
They’ll have to prove that to be the case, because so far the team hasn’t made it happen on the ground at all. The Bears are 28th in the league in rushing yardage, averaging just 70 per game and 3.4 yards per attempt. Right now they sit in 30th in rush attempts in the NFL with 125, and it’s not like the extra passes are helping the offense.
A struggling Mitchell Trubisky and two games of Chase Daniel have only produced an average of 193 yards through the air through six games. It’s a toxic offensive combination, and it’s the reason the team is averaging just 18.4 points per game, and that got a boost from two garbage-time touchdowns against the Saints.
Who is to blame? There’s a lot to go around.
The offensive line hasn’t been as good as they were a year ago and the lack of production has forced the Bears to go to the air quickly. Against the Saints, the Bears had a loss of one, no gain, and a pickup of two yards on their first three run plays in the first two series. They’d run just four times after that, which included the fumbles by Anthony Miller and David Montgomery.
Those results make it tough for Nagy to have called for more runs, yet there is the argument that you have to keep trying to at least keep the defense honest. It’s a slippery slope the Bears will have to deal with this week and in the foreseeable future with the offense.
“You need to be productive. A lot of coordinators don’t like those negative plays – the one or two-yard gains. It puts them in a tough spot on second down,” said offensive guard Ted Larsen. “So we just need to be more efficient when we do run the ball and hopefully that translates into more opportunities to do it.”
Like many other things about the offense, it’s something the Bears need to take care of sooner than later if they hope for a repeat of their 2018 success.