Ask any Bears offensive lineman if he likes blocking for running plays, and you get the same quizzical look: Does a bear do his business in the woods?
“That’s a rhetorical question right there,” right tackle Jordan Millls said. “When an O-lineman hears we’re running the ball? Smashing people? I’m not saying you can’t smash some people in pass. But it’s not nearly as fun. When we hear that, it lights a fire in us. …
“That’s when the trenches become the trenches.”
Left guard Michael Ola smiles at the question, too.
“When we run, offensive linemen generally have more fun run-blocking,” he said. “Because you’re no longer receiving the blow. You’re getting to give the blow, and you’re getting to dominate the guy in front of you aggressively.
“So who doesn’t like running up on somebody, snatching them up and trying to drive them into the dirt? That’s how we get our kicks.”
The only men more fired up than Matt Forte for Sunday night’s game in Green Bay might be the five that block for him.
The Bears have vowed to run the ball more — a midseason admission their offensive balance was thrown out of whack, and a stated desire to keep Aaron Rodgers off the field as long as possible.
Even against the league’s worst rush defense, it’s a tall task. Left guard Matt Slauson tore his right pectoral muscle against the Patriots, forcing Ola to make his fourth starting position switch. Mills, too, has struggled at right tackle.
“We have to run it more,” left tackle Jermon Bushrod said. “We have to fight to be as balanced as possible. We have to have some success early when coach calls these plays, so he feels comfortable calling them throughout the game.”
They did that in the first half of the teams’ Week 4 meeting.
Before the game got out of hand, ending in a 38-17 Packers win, the Bears ran for 130 yards on 23 carries in the first half alone. They’ve topped that figure in one entire game this season — Week 8 against New England, when they ran unobstructed throughout the second half of a blowout.
Forte’s 17 carries for 80 yards in the first half against the Packers would stand tied for his fourth-highest single-game total this year.
No team has allowed more rushing yards per game than the Packers’ 153.5, or more yards per carry than their 4.8.
“Just because we had success the first half doesn’t mean we’re going to automatically have it going into this game,” Bushrod said. “We have to work for this.
“Hopefully we have some success, whatever play is called.”
Cliché as it may be, the Bears’ passing attack is better when they run the ball. Their 303 first-half yards against Green Bay was more than they’ve totaled in four whole games this season.
“We rushed for however much we rushed for, but we lost,” Ola said. “Past performances have nothing to do with this present game.
“The things we did well the last time out, we’re going to try to do those things again. But at the same time, they’re over there trying to work on what they had struggled with.”
Just because the Bears ran the ball well the first time around doesn’t mean they will again.
But if they don’t, they’re in trouble.
“It would be foolish of us going in there expecting that we’ve got to put up the same numbers we put up last time,” Ola said. ‘We feel like if we put our best thing out there, we’re a tough team to beat.”