John Crist: You guys obviously had a tough time running the football this past year. The tailbacks got a lot of the blame, and the offensive line got a lot of the blame. Do you feel like the fullbacks kind of got off scot-free?
Jason McKie: There isn't no such thing as getting off scot-free when you're a team. You can't blame the running game on one particular position. When they say the running game, that's our offense in general. That's everybody. Whether it be offensive line, running backs, fullback, wide receiver, tight end, quarterback – it doesn't matter. It's us in general as a team. We had success the previous year, our Super Bowl year, and for whatever reason it wasn't that successful last year. But we'll get back on track this year.
JC: Now that the front office has brought in Kevin Jones, there's a lot of talk that this team could keep four tailbacks. Can you survive with just one fullback on the roster? Do you need a qualified backup behind you?
JM: I don't get into that. That's the front office's decision to make. I just try to go out here and practice hard every day. We're trying to get back on track, get back to winning football and playing Chicago Bears football. All that front office stuff, that's for them to decide. Whether we need one fullback, two fullbacks, three tailbacks, four tailbacks – that's for them to decide. Our job is to come out here and practice and get better and get ready for the season, and that's what we do.
JC: You guys always say that rushing attempts per game is more important than rushing yards per game. But what about yards per carry? That's an area where this team struggled badly last year.
JM: Of course, that's important if you're getting four yards a pop. If you keep doing that a couple times, that's a first down. That generates first downs. And the rushing attempts is important, especially for a running back to get warmed up. When you can't get a running back the ball three times in the first quarter, you can't expect him to be warm. It takes him a while to get lathered up, to get warmed up, to have the ball in his hands and get use to that contact. I think that's something we need to address more.
JC: The NFL is becoming more of a passing-friendy league each and every year, but the Bears have been and always will be about running the football. Is it tough to resist the urge to air it out and be a high-wire act on game day?
JM: If you look at it, passes generate big plays. Of course, the passing game, that's the big play. But if you look at it – look at the Giants, for instance. They ran the ball a lot, and they won the Super Bowl. They still passed the ball a lot. The Patriots had Randy Moss, but they still ran the ball effectively. When we went to the Super Bowl, we ran the ball more than we passed it. I think if you have a successful running game, it will open up the pass, and if you have a successful passing game, it opens up the run. So I think you've got to be well balanced on offense.
JC: Last year, you guys were the favorites in the NFC North. This year, you'e the underdog. Which role do you like most?
JM: It don't matter to us, man. We just want to come out here and get back to our winning ways [and] get back to doing things that we're used to, and everything will take care of itself.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
Camp Chat: FB Jason McKie
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