The team that popularized the T-formation and dedicated a line of its fight song to it just called the fewest run plays in franchise history.
The Bears’ seven rushes and 17 yards in a blowout loss to the Saints were both season-lows for the NFL, and even in the pass-happy modern era, coach Matt Nagy knows that can’t possibly work.
“I know we need to run the ball more,” Nagy said. “I’m not an idiot.
“I realize that ... you need to do it. I never go into a game saying I want to throw the ball 54 times. I would love to go into a game and say I want to run the ball 54 times. But that hasn’t happened. This is what I have to answer to.”
Only 10 teams since 1960 have run the ball seven times or fewer, according to Pro Football Reference, and all of them lost. There have been 41 instances of a team rushing fewer than 20 times in a game this season, and those teams went 3-38.
The Bears believed going into the season they had every necessary piece to be a good running team, but that has unraveled in six games.
The offensive line that they committed to with large contract extensions has played below expectations, Mitch Trubisky hasn’t helped anything and the trio of running backs — Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Mike Davis — hasn’t gotten going.
But it’s not all on the players. Nagy lamented that they didn’t run more, but he calls the plays. He virtually abandoned the ground game after the Bears got 4 yards on 4 carries in the first quarter.
Cohen got loose for a 9-yard gain early in the second quarter, then Nagy called 13 consecutive pass plays to close the half. Trubisky completed 6 of 12 for 23 yards and got sacked once.
It has reached a point where Nagy might have to force himself run the ball, even if it’s not working early.
“That’s definitely an option,” he said. “You could do that. You could go the other way [and have] the happy medium.
“With this run game, it’s about productive plays, right? I know you guys agree with that. Productive plays. Right now we’re not having productive plays in the run game any way you look at it.”
The Bears were seventh in rushing attempts and 11th in yardage last season, though they were sixth-worst in yards per carry. This season, they’re in the bottom five in all rushing categories.