The Bears figured to be a more run-oriented team under John Fox. With the possibility they could be without their top four receivers for Saturday’s preseason game against the Cincinnati Bengals, they almost have no choice.
Matt Forte figures to get his most extensive action yet Saturday, as the Bears hope to continue the momentum of an impressive run game from top to bottom. With 331 rushing yards on 69 carries (4.8 per carry), the Bears already have rushed for more yards in two preseason games under Fox than they did in four preseason games under Marc Trestman last year (95-284, 3.0).
And though Senorise Perry (54-yard touchdown vs. the Dolphins) and Jeremy Langford (46-yard run vs. the Colts) had big plays against second- and third-team defenders, the Bears’ first-team offense has run effectively — seven carries for 31 yards vs. the Dolphins without Jacquizz Rodgers playing for Forte; and 15 carries for 53 yards vs. the Colts, with Forte and Rodgers. Forte gained 24 yards on eight carries in his first preseason game last week against the Colts. Last year he gained 10 yards on 10 carries in the preseason.
Perhaps most promising is that the Bears ran the ball well after slow starts. They gained a net zero yards on their first three carries against the Dolphins, then gained 31 yards on their next four carries; they gained 10 yards on their first six carries against the Colts, then gained 43 on their next nine.
Share Events on The CubeThe Bears appear better equipped to establish a run game than in recent years, with Langford (13 carries, 81 yards, one touchdown), a fourth-round draft pick from Michigan State; Rodgers (16-67) , who at 5-6 is an effective inside runner; and Ka’Deem Carey (12-47, one touchdown).
Many coaches intend to commit to the run, only to find it easier said than done. Fox’s teams generally have stayed committed to the run game. Even with Peyton Manning the past two seasons, the Broncos were 11th in the NFL in rush attempts in 2013 (461) and 12th in 2014 (443). Under Trestman, the Bears were 24th in rush attempts in 2013 (404) and 30th in 2014 (355).
“You have to commit to stuff and force it to happen and be successful,” Fox said. “If you’re running it for zero gain or minus-3 [yards], that’s not very effective. The key is executing … regardless of quarterback. Peyton Manning — you name anyone you want to name — the run game is his best friend. They need some rest plays or breather plays. Sometimes handing the ball off is that breather play.”