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As Bears search for run game, Jordan Howard says they ‘just gotta give it time’

Matt Nagy said that it’s on his staff to carve out an identity for the Bears’ running game.

“What we’re going to do — that’s why we’re coaches — is figure out who we are, what we do best,” he said this week.

The Bears believe in their coach’s scheme, which has been more successful through the air than on the ground, running back Jordan Howard said Tuesday.

“We’re definitely confident in Coach and his offense,” he said. “Just gotta give it time. It’s gonna work. We just gotta be patient.”

Jordan Howard carries the football against the Patriots. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jordan Howard carries the football against the Patriots. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Howard — who is averaging only 3.5 yards, No. 41 among qualified rushers — said that the problem is more a matter of execution than scheming.

“Just gotta stick to what we know,” he said. “Everybody’s gotta execute. Can’t be one person messing up. I gotta do what I gotta do to get the running game going. We just have to stick with it.”

Something has to change, though. Quarterback Mitch Trubisky was the Bears’ leading rusher Sunday, two games after being tied for the team’s rushing lead against the Buccaneers.

Howard has played three games this year in which he’s averaged 2.5 yards per carry or worse. Tarik Cohen is averaging 4.8 yards but has rushed more than 12 times in a game only twice in his NFL career.

The Bears’ run and pass games should be working hand-in-hand. While the Bears are No. 14 in the league with 6.66 yards per pass attempt this season, they’re ranked third, with 8.63, over the past month.

“I feel like that will make success on the run game easier,” Howard said, “Because we got those pass lanes open so they can’t load the box up and things like that.”

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Perhaps the talk of identity misses the point. The Patriots are nobody’s idea of a run-first team. Yet Sunday, with 4:05 to play, they rattled off eight consecutive runs — with their backup running back, no less — to bleed all but 24 seconds off the clock.

Elite teams, regardless of their identity, run the ball when they have to.

“We have to get that going,” left tackle Charles Leno said. “We see that. We’re gonna . . . I know the coaching staff is going to do their job and try to get us in position. But as offensive linemen, we have to do our job better and get those guys in space more.”