Running a Campaign

While there are many factors involved in the rededication to the ground game, it can be narrowed down to four, mixed with a bit of myth.

1. Thomas Jones is currently the biggest threat on offense. Despite missing two games and one getting one carry in a third, Jones led the team in rushing, receptions and touchdowns this season. There is still some doubt whether or not he can be an every down back from a durability standpoint, but getting him more touches should help the offense improve.

There were just six games where he had 20 carries.

2. It's easier to find offensive linemen that can run block better than pass block. The easiest solution to the Bears left tackle problem would be to shift John Tait from the right side and allow Marc Colombo and Qasim Mitchell to compete for the vacancy.

Coming out of Boston College, Colombo had been a projected right tackle. Considering his limited mobility, it might be an easier transition back to the right side rather than facing the premiere pass rushers in the game from left tackle.

3.Inexperience at quarterback can be offset if there is a sound running game.

Just ask Ben Roethlisberger how his rookie campaign would have gone without Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley. The Steelers rode a strong ground game and good defense and took Roethlisberger for a 13-game winning streak.

While Rex Grossman has the potential to be a successful quarterback in any offense, making an opposing defense think about the run first will make the playaction game more effective.

Obviously, if the passing game isn't productive than it's easier to stack eight in the box. Something teams were able to do when Grossman wasn't on the field.

4. The most obvious reason for turning to the ground game would be an attempt to keep the defense off the field. The Bears averaged 28:20 time of possession in 2004. The defense could look much better if they weren't on the field for the majority of the game.

Becoming a ball control offense doesn't sound exciting, but it could equate to victories. The Bears of '01 used the combination of an opportunistic defense and Anthony Thomas to go 13-3.

The current talent on defense is much younger and better than that squad, which means the offense only needs to be able to compliment Ron Rivera's unit for the team to have a chance to flip their 5-11 record. The Bears were 5-1 when the team scored at least 18 points.

The elements have been mentioned as a justification for turning to the running game. Tell that to Brett Favre.

"The biggest (weather) factor in my opinion that effects play-calling is wind more so than rain or anything else and there are times you get that," new offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "But if you can run the ball and you can establish that run and be consistent then it really doesn't matter what the elements are and you have a chance to win."

Granted, the weather in Chicago is a factor in some games, but this talk of "Bear Weather" needs to stop.

The Houston Texans came to Soldier Field with the temperate in the single digits and handed the Bears a 24-5 defeat.

It's easy for a coach to mention going back to a hard noised style of football because over the course of time fans remember Bears teams with a strong defense and a weak offense. When Walter Payton was added to the mix the team won the Super Bowl.

Jones is no Payton and this defense doesn't compare to the '85 squad, but it's nice to dream.

Although, in a weak NFC, with the right off-season moves the Bears could find themselves in the hunt for a Super Bowl, 20 years after their last title.


Bear Report Top Stories