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What could the Bears running game look like in 2022?

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Chicago Bears moving to a Shanahan-like offensive philosophy in 2022 under first year offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, and that should sync up well with quarterback Justin Fields and the players around him.

Head coach Matt Eberflus picked Getsy, in part, because this was the style of offense that gave him fits to defend during his time as a defensive coordinator in the NFL. It’s a system that has had a lot of success since Mike Shanahan developed it back in the 80s around a zone blocking scheme, and has since been popularized by Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, and Matt LaFleur, to name a few, that all utilize a variation of it.

The offense has been very quarterback friendly through the years with guys like Matt Schaub, Jared Goff, Robert Griffin III, and Kirk Cousins all making a Pro Bowl in it, but all those teams also had effective running games helping out their QBs. The outside zone and stretch plays provide a natural backside play action bootleg for quarterbacks, but once the playbook is fully integrated it’s much more than that.

Getsy, while never being an offensive coordinator, has worked the last three years with the Green Bay Packers and head coach Matt LaFleur, so a look at what the Packers did a season ago could provide a glimpse on what the Bears will do it 2022.

Here are the types of running plays the Packers used a season ago courtesy of SIS Data Hub and Jacob’s embedded Tweet here.

From a personnel standpoint, the Packers featured two tailbacks with Aaron Jones rushing 171 times for 799 yards while catching 52 balls for 391 yards, and A.J. Dillon rushing 187 times for 803 yards with 34 receptions for 313 yards. Jones is a bit more shifty than Dillon is, while Dillon runs with a bit more power than Jones does.

The Bears are set up with two quality running backs in David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert, and their styles should complement each other in Getsy’s offense. Montgomery is an established professional running back in his three years as a Bear, showing an ability to affect the game as a receiver out of the backfield and also as a blocker in the passing game. As a rookie in 2021 Herbert flashed good vision and decisiveness as a runner, but he’ll be looking to show more in the passing game as a sophomore.

From a speed standpoint Herbert may be better suited for the outside zone, but at a compact 5’9”, 212 pounds he can run inside the tackles as well, while Montgomery has worked on his speed since coming into the league and is capable of hitting the outside too.

The Bears also have free agent pick up Darrynton Evans, rookie sixth rounder Trestan Ebner, and UDFA De’Montre Tuggle at tailback, along with free agent fullback Khari Blasingame who figures to give the Bears an element they haven’t had in a long time.

Green Bay didn’t do a lot of 2 back stuff a season ago, but other play callers in the Shanahan tree have used the fullback plenty, and the Bears have talked up Blasingame this offseason as a part of the offense.

Ultimately the new running scheme can only do so much for the offense, and it’ll fall on the revamped offensive line to gel and give the backs some room to run, but the way in which Getsy can marry the run and pass game together will be something to watch as the season progresses.