Ground and pound.
It’s historically been the staple of the offensive scheme in the Chicago Bears organization since the team’s inception. Gale Sayers, Walter Payton, and Neal Anderson were all products of a system that worked – a power running game and a gruesome defense.
But with the league becoming more trigger-happy than Rambo, the Bears finally submitted to the natural evolution of the NFL. In betting the farm on Jay Cutler and hiring Mike Martz to revive and orchestrate his greatest show on turf, the Bears waved the white flag on the running game high and proud for the entire league to see.
By Ethan Asofsky
There is a rumor that when a new president is inaugurated he gets a national defense file labeled Bears’ quarterbacks. Chicago’s history with dismal signal callers is well documented, which is probably why the first three games this season were so enthralling for Bears’ fans.
They’ve long awaited the aerial arsenal that could command their team’s troops at the line and lead the Bears down the field, a style the Bears have envied for the last decade while Brett Favre nearly perfected it for their arch-nemesis.
In 2010 it seemed as if the Bears had finally cracked the code. If Cutler had time to go through his progressions, which was a big if, he had the arm strength to make the throws. But building a passing offense proved it wasn’t quite as easy as the front office made it look. After the shelling Cutler took against the Giants where he got pummeled 10 times in the first half, it became clear that if the Bears weren’t going to invest in an offensive line, they would probably have to invest in a stretcher.
With Cutler out this Sunday and Love Smith turning to the 4th grade arm of Todd Collins, who makes decisions throwing the football that are dumber than Plaxico Burress on a Saturday night, the Bears turned to a familiar style of play – ground and pound.
It wasn’t sexy, but it was effective. Almost instantaneously, the Bears featured ball carrier reverted back to Matt Forte circa 2008, picking up 166 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears were the nerdy kid in math class who wanted the popular, attractive girl. They traded in their calculator and pocket protector for a leather jacket and motorcycle, but at heart the Bears are still that nerdy kid. The running game is their identity, at least as long as Lovie Smith remains at the helm.
Maybe the answer to the Bears offensive line problems is to acknowledge that passing the ball 30 times a game and running it 20 isn’t Bears football. Forte is proving he can be an every down back, and Chester Taylor has been a capable backup. With balance, the run will open up the pass and give Cutler more time to operate.
Mike Martz was brought in to improve the pass offense and help Cutler become more efficient, but not to squash the running game. Sometimes, the ground game feels like an ex-girlfriend, but she treated the Bears right (1985 and 2006).
The new Bears offense may be flashy and exciting, but ground and pound is Chicago’s identity.Follow paulmbanks