The Chicago Bears have been struggling all season long in their running game, with the offensive line failing to open up holes and Matt Forte failing to find the gaps that do exist in games. Those struggles have come at a price, as the Bears currently reside in last place in the NFL in rushing yards per game, with just 64 yards per game on the ground to their credit.
In respect to the Bears’ three opponents so far this season, they haven’t exactly been facing easy competition. In fact, three of the top seven teams in the league in rushing yards against per game have faced the Bears in those games, with the New York Jets (55.1, first in the league), Buffalo Bills (83.7, sixth) and San Francisco 49’ers (85.7, seventh) all showing why they are so dominant against the run as they shut down the Bears.
The variety of defensive fronts that the Jets threw at the Bears really stopped up the run game, and also turned out to be a big challenge in the pass protection game as well. The line hasn’t played particularly poorly this season, with Brian de la Puente playing at a high level in relief of Roberto Garza and Jermon Bushrod and Kyle Long both having solid starts to the year. Yes, Michael Ola hasn’t been All-Pro worthy, and Jordan Mills is still bouncing back from offseason foot surgery, but neither player is a liability at this point, so that’s not really what the issue is.
With that in mind, the Bears’ running backs should be licking their chops in going against the Packers. Thanks to injuries and general ineffectiveness, the Packers are allowing 156 yards per game on the ground this season, which is good for the third-worst total in the NFL. Joique Bell and Reggie Bush helped the Lions to rush for 115 yards against the Packers last week, and that was the best performance Green Bay has put up in that area. They allowed 207 to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 1, and the New York Jets had 147 yards on the ground in Week 2 of the season at Lambeau Field.
Those numbers have got to give Forte and Ka’Deem Carey some hope as they prepare for this game. Alshon Jeffery is seemingly getting healthier by the day, and it’s highly unlikely that Brandon Marshall will allow himself to miss a game, but even with those guys starting to round back into form, this is screaming to be the week that the Bears finally figure out their running issues. If they can’t get a good performance out of Forte this week, then things might actually be broken. If they do get a solid performance on the ground, then fans and pundits alike will finally be able to inch away from the panic button.