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Marc Trestman's Running Attack: Will the Bears be Balanced?

Shortly after Marc Trestman was announced as the new head coach of the Bears, our own Steve Ronkowski broke down how Trestman used the passing game in the CFL. But how does Trestman use his running backs?


While this will not be quite the X's and O's post that Steve's was, this is mainly looking at how balanced an offense fans can expect to see under Trestman.

Obviously, Trestman is mainly known for his work with quarterbacks, and that's all fine and good. Jay Cutler needs all the help he can get and a new system with a known QB guru to with could easily get him on track for a monster season. However, the Bears also have some pretty darn good running backs in Matt Forte and Michael Bush.

Now everyone understands the concepts of the West Coast Offense. Trestman, in the Bill Walsh-school of WCO uses a short, quick passing game to set up deeper passing plays and longer run plays than the old-school basic "run-first" offense. Basically, a typical Walsh-esque WCO would be expected to pass 65%-80% of the time. However, since they are short, quick passes they have a high percentage-completion rate and not as much balance is needed.

That said then, don't expect Trestman to have all sorts of run/pass balance.

Here is a breakdown of Trestman's NFL offenses and their offensive balance:

1989 Cleveland Browns

Rush Attempts: 448

Pass Attempts: 529

Ratio: 54.1/45.9% Pass/run

1995 San Francisco 49ers

Rush Attempts: 415

Pass Attempts: 644

Ratio: 60.8/39.2 pass/run

1996 49ers

Rush Attempts: 454

Pass Attempts: 550

Ratio: 54.8/45.2 pass/run

1998 Arizona Cardinals

Rush Attempts: 450

Pass Attempts: 552

Ratio: 55.1/44.9 pass/run

1999 Cardinals

Rush Attempts: 396

Pass Attempts: 558

Ratio: 58.5/41.5

2000 Cardinals

Rush Attempts: 343

Pass Attempts: 554

Ratio: 61.8/38.2 pass/run

2002 Oakland Raiders

Rush Attempts: 414

Pass Attempts: 619

Ratio: 59.9/40.1 pass/run

2003 Raiders

Rush Attempts: 423

Pass Attempts: 521

Ratio: 55.2/44.8 pass/run

It's pretty simple then; look for the Bears to carry a ratio anywhere between 55/45 and 60/40. That is actually pretty balanced when you think about it because very rarely are teams right at the 50/50 mark and in today's pass-first league, the balance is continuing to shift up towards the 60/40 mark and beyond.

Here are the pass/run ratios for the last five Bears teams with the offensive coordinator in parentheses:

2012: 50.8/49.2 (Tice)

2011: 50.9/49.1 (Martz)

2010: 53/47 (Martz)

2009: 60.1/39.9 (Turner)

2008: 54.9/45.1 (Turner)

So expect to see more of a Ron Turner balance, but Trestman is supposed to be a much better play-caller.

Furthermore, Trestman utilizes his running backs as receivers, meaning that Forte could see 18 carries but catch another 5-7 passes per game. Trestman has had only one 1,000 yard running back in his offense; Adrian Murrell in 1998 with the Cardinals. He had 1,042 yards. Trestman's fullback in that offense, Larry Centers, caught 69 passes that year, to Murrell's 18.

Here is a quick rundown of the lead RBs Trestman has had with their rush yards, yards-per-carry and reception totals:

'89 Browns:

Eric Metcalf: 187 attempts, 633 yards, 3.4 yards-per-carry and 54 receptions, 397 yards

'95 49ers

Derek Loville: 218 att, 729 yds, 3.3 ypc, 87 rec, 662 yds

'96 49ers

Terry Kirby: 134 att, 559 yds, 4.2 ypc, 52 rec, 439 yds

'98 Cardinals

Adrian Murrell: 274 att, 1,042 yds, 3.8 ypc, 18 rec, 169 yds

'99 Cardinals

Adrian Murrell: 193 att, 553 yds, 2.9 ypc, 49 rec, 335 yds

'00 Cardinals

Michael Pittman: 184 att, 719 yds, 3.9 ypc, 73 rec, 579 yds

'02 Raiders

Charlie Garner: 182 att, 962 yds, 5.3 ypc, 91 rec, 941 yds

'03 Raiders

Tyrone Wheatley: 159 att, 678 yds, 4.3 ypc, 12 rec, 120 yds

Garner had 120 att, 553 yds, 4.6 ypc, 48 rec, 386 yds

That list isn't exactly a roster of past Pro-Bowlers, so it's safe to say that Trestman has not worked with someone of Forte's ability. Bears fans know Forte has the ability to be a 1,000/1,000 yard rusher/receiver. There is a great chance that with better OL play Trestman can get Forte to stay right around his career 4.4 YPC average and 1,530 career yards from scrimmage average. Forte could be in for a monster year.

So while much is made of offensive balance, it does not have to be 50/50. The Bears needed to run more in recent seasons because their OL was so inept at pass-blocking. However, hopefully Emery and Trestman will make over the line this offseason and the team will be able to sustain a more pass-heavy offensive balance and effectively (and efficiently, to use a Trestman word) run his offense.