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Three Keys Against the Rams: Offense

This isn't one of the keys.
This isn't one of the keys.

1) Think Outside the Box

And the "Box" in question is Mike Tice's seeming servitude towards finding the first down marker and killing it with fire. As I mentioned last Saturday (because after all, with the game played, no sense in doing the "Three Keys" series for it), Tice's offense appears to be extremely boom or bust - either pick up the first down or get hardly anything at all (or more likely, nothing on an incompletion). Let's be clear here - first downs are a good thing. But they're easier to pick up in five-yard chunks than in ten yard chunks, and let's be honest, the Bears' offensive line has been several things, but I don't think that over the last few years we'd include "good" in that list, or at least good enough to consistently provide time for receivers to get downfield.

So this week, one of the things I'd like to see Tice and the offense do is try to work in more of the run game and short-to-intermediate passing game. Then, the top of the defense can get blown off when the defense moves to take those into account. And they have some tools to do so - I still want to see Rodriguez chip and get to the flat, and of course there's Earl Bennett and Devin Hester. But continuing to call deep play after deep play opens up Sack City. Cutler does not want to live there any longer.

2) Scheme around the ends

And this is important, because the Rams have a pair of really good ones. Robert Quinn was a first round draft pick last year for a reason and already has two sacks himself this year, while Chris Long has steadily improved every year as a former first round pick himself - and capped off last year picking up 13 sacks (and 30.5 for his career). Do the Bears want to get into a "deep passing game" ego match with these two? I doubt it, especially with the way secondary blockers (tight ends, running backs) have been "blocking" this season.

3) Involve Michael Bush in the Run Game

See, I'm classier than that. Either way, with Matt Forte officially ruled out, Michael Bush becomes the primary running back for Sunday, and that's a good thing, since first round draft pick Michael Brockers is out himself, and he's a pretty damn good run-stuffing tackle with a modicum of pass-rush ability. And if Long and Quinn are running hard off the edge, the Bears should be able to make some running lanes in the middle for Bush to hit hard.

Through these keys you might be saying that I'm focusing too much on the run game and it's an overreaction to the Green Bay game. And possibly you'd be right. The thing is, the team can't just continue to call nothing but boom plays and continue to suffer the busts. And when you get into second and 5 or third and 3, the defense has no idea what you might be up to. I'm not saying Tice should give up on deep plays, but he needs to take into account that not every play has to be first down or nothing.