If it feels like the narrative of “the Chicago Bears need to run the ball more” has been trotted out approximately 2,342 times this season, that’s because it has.
Everyone knows that the Bears are a team that is primarily going to pass the ball, and with good reason. With weapons like Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery, and Martellus Bennett, it would make sense for Jay Cutler to sling the ball all over the field on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t at least be an attempt on the part of the Bears to balance things out at least a little bit.
Over the past two weeks, that pass-almost-exclusively philosophy has ground the team’s offense to a virtual halt. In those two games, both blowout losses, Matt Forte rushed for a combined 32 yards on just 18 carries, and not surprisingly teams focused completely on baiting Cutler into making the kinds of mistakes that he makes on a regular basis when facing a team that doesn’t respect the Bears’ running game.
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That all could, and should, change this week against the New Orleans Saints. In Week 12 against the Baltimore Ravens, the Saints allowed 215 yards on the ground, including 182 yards and two scores from Justin Forsett. In Week 13, a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Le’Veon Bell rushed for 95 yards and a score, and for good measure added eight catches for 159 yards. Last week against the Carolina Panthers was the icing on the cake for New Orleans, as they surrendered 271 rushing yards in a blowout loss on their home field.
With numbers like that, Marc Trestman would simply be out of his mind not to use Forte early and often in Monday night’s game. If he needs more incentive, he needs to remember this: Forte rushed for a combined 206 yards and two touchdowns in Weeks 11 and 12 of the season. What do those two weeks have in common? The Bears won both games.
The Bears have got to run the ball in order to take some of the pressure off of Cutler and company. The passing game will already be hindered by the loss of Marshall for the remainder of the season, and giving Cutler a bit of a safety valve in the run game can only do the Bears’ offense a world of favors. Giving Forte the ball should not only prevent the Saints from dropping seven guys back into coverage on a consistent basis, but it should also open up more space for other offensive weapons to do work.
Of course, we’ve seen how quickly Trestman abandons the run, but he’s got to stick with it if the Bears have any chance of winning the game Monday night.