The Chicago Bears have been a run-first team throughout the entirety of the 2017 season. Given that they have a rookie quarterback (or in the first four games, a bad quarterback) and two talented running backs, this is understandable. However, they took that to another level this Sunday in their 27-24 overtime win against the Baltimore Ravens.
They finished the game with a 54:17 run-to-pass ratio. In today’s NFL, that’s almost unfathomable. With such lopsided play calling, one would figure that Jordan Howard would end up with big numbers, whereas Mitch Trubisky would not. They would be right.
Howard had a career-high 36 carries on Sunday. Despite the heavy workload, he was able to stay consistent throughout the game. He ended up with 167 rushing yards, which averages out to 4.6 yards per carry, as well as a nine-yard catch. As I pointed out in my notes, only four of his runs resulted in a loss of yards. Considering how much of his energy must have been drained, that’s an impressive total.
Tarik Cohen put six points up on the board this week. It wasn’t on the ground, but rather through the air. On what initially appeared to be a sweep to the right, Cohen tossed the ball right into the hands of Zach Miller in the back corner of the end zone.
The rookie also ran the ball for 32 yards on 14 carries and had a catch for 14 yards. Although he has been on a bit of a cold streak lately, he has still proven to be a big piece of the Bears’ offense.
Wunderkind Mitch Trubisky didn’t have a great time statistically, as he went only 8-for-16 while throwing for 113 yards and a touchdown. However, the stats don’t tell the whole story.
Six of his incompletions were passes thrown away due to being under pressure. In fact, he was under pressure on 12 of his 23 drop backs, according to Pro Football Focus. When he had a clean pocket, he was actually pretty solid.
Trubisky’s lone touchdown pass was a beauty to Dion Sims. He displayed his ability to throw the ball on the run with seemingly no trouble at all.
While the Bears didn’t run as many designed roll outs as they did against Minnesota, they still allowed him to be creative and scramble in the pocket a bit. The more they do that, the more dangerous their offense will become.
That is, if Cody Whitehair can bounce back from his terrible start to the season.
The 2016 second-round pick has been flat out bad at center this year. Although he has been a decent run blocker, his pass protection and snaps out of the shotgun have been horrendous. He had one particularly bad snap that went over Trubisky’s head. Luckily for the rookie, he was able to recover and get the ball off before getting sacked. Whitehair had another bad snap the play after that one, but a penalty called it off.
I stated on Twitter that the time may be coming for the Bears to reconsider having him be their long-term answer at the center position. He would be best suited at guard at this point, but Chicago is already set there with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton. Right now, the best thing they could do is just continue to work on Whitehair’s snapping.
Eddie Jackson had another great game on Sunday. The rookie out of Alabama ended up with six tackles and one pass deflection. He played a big role in the interception that Bryce Callahan returned for 52 yards; he jarred the ball loose from the hands of Breshad Perriman, sending it airborne.
He has proven to be the athletic, rangy safety that the Bears haven’t had in years. With the resurgence of Adrian Amos, the team may have themselves a talented safety duo.
Leonard Floyd was quiet this week after having three sacks in the previous two games. Per PFF, he only had one hurry on 38 pass rushing snaps. Although he beat his blocker a couple of times, he wasn’t able to turn that into production. One can only hope that he will bounce back next week.
No other youngster really made much of an impact. Despite being on the field for 95 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, Tanner Gentry didn’t catch a single ball. Granted, he was only targeted once, but it shows that the undrafted rookie still has some work to do in terms of gaining separation.
Adam Shaheen was on the field for a career-high 19 snaps, but didn’t do anything of note. With their lack of production from their other weapons, it’s surprising that they haven’t given him more chances to go out for a pass. Though his blocking has improved from his final season at Ashland, they drafted him as a receiving tight end. He should be treated as such.
Jonathan Bullard, Roy Robertson-Harris, Isaiah Irving, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Deon Bush all combined for a total of 40 defensive snaps. While most of the aforementioned players played roles on special teams, none of them have made much of an impact at all this year.