Mitch Trubisky’s return won’t matter unless Bears find their running game

If the Bears don’t start running the ball well, they might as well keep Trubisky at home. It would be better for his health.

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Quarterback Chase Daniel hands off to running back David Montgomery Sunday.


LONDON — Quarterback Mitch Trubisky is in a good place mentally, coach Matt Nagy said, and the Bears’ bye week will put him in a better place physically as he recovers from a dislocated left shoulder.

Trubisky will continue rehabbing his shoulder during the bye, and Nagy wouldn’t rule out that he will return Oct. 20 against the Saints.

‘‘Again, we’ll see,’’ Nagy said at the Bears’ hotel Monday, about 12 hours after the team’s 24-21 loss Sunday to the Raiders. ‘‘I hope he’s back, but I don’t know that. It could be something where it goes longer than that; I don’t know that.’’

If the Bears don’t start running the ball well, they might as well keep Trubisky at home. It would be better for his health.

Trubisky’s own rushing abilities will be dulled when he comes back, as he figures to wear a harness on his left shoulder upon his return. His passing skills will be hampered, too, if the Saints can pin their ears back with no fear of the Bears running the ball with verve.

Why would any team worry about the Bears’ rushing attack? In the local parlance, it has been rubbish.

Their ground game reached a new low — 42 yards — Sunday. Their 2.47 yards per carry was their second-worst mark this season.

Six teams average fewer rushing yards per game than the Bears’ 80.6. Those teams — the Redskins, Falcons, Steelers, Jets, Bengals and Dolphins — might be the six worst in football. The teams on that list have a combined 2-26 record. All but the Steelers comprise the NFL’s five worst teams in terms of point differential.

That’s a depressing neighborhood in which the Bears’ rushing attack has taken up residence. Nagy’s task during the bye week is to try to fix it.

‘‘The production right now in the run game isn’t there,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘I’m gonna go back and I’m gonna figure out the ‘why’ part. And I told you [Sunday], I think I know.

‘‘But I will have a lot more, and I am not saying that. Obviously, I’m not going to go back and tell everybody what I think it is at the end. But we’ll talk as a staff and figure [it] out.’’

The Bears are frustrated with their offensive line. Left tackle Charles Leno leads the NFL with eight penalties. Right guard Kyle Long has dealt with a hip problem and has struggled this season. Right tackle Bobby Massie and left guard Cody Whitehair both signed fat contracts this year, but neither has dominated.

‘‘You’ve got to win your one-on-one battles — and that’s just not the offensive line, that’s everybody,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘Whenever you have some places within your game that are struggling, that’s immediately what you go to.’’

Four of the five starting offensive linemen have played together for 3½ seasons. The fifth, center James Daniels, started 10 games at left guard as a rookie last season before switching positions with Whitehair. The Bears bragged about the seamless position swap during training camp, but Nagy said something is missing on the line.

Still, he said, Whitehair and Daniels will remain at their current positions.

‘‘This is the first year that they’ve done it together with these guys at specific positions, you know, so there is a communication process that goes on,’’ Nagy said.

On Sunday, rookie David Montgomery had 11 carries for 25 yards and Tarik Cohen had four for 10. Mike Davis, whom the Bears gave a two-year, $6 million contract in March, played only four snaps. He might be the perfect microcosm for the rushing attack.

‘‘Mike’s done everything that we’ve asked,’’ Nagy said. ‘‘It’s nothing to do with anything as far as play. . . . He falls into that whole identity thing right now in the run game. We’re struggling there right now.’’

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