Former Dallas Cowboy and current Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber is expected to make his regular season debut against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. The former Dallas back showed great strength and speed in the preseason, averaging 4.6 yards per carry with 21 touches. What I witnessed from watching those games with Barber is that he would be the better goalline, and run third down option that both Matt Forte and Khalil Bell.
I at times drifted off in my mind while watching those preseason games. I dreamt that one day there could quite possibly be a battle between Forte and Barber for the starters spot because both backs provide a different look for the Bears offense. Unfortunately that was put on hold when Barber went down with a calf injury during a preseason game against the Tennessee Titans.
Barber has yet to see time since the injury, ruled inactive for the past three weeks. The Bears offense initially looked as if his services weren't needed as they put up a 30 point blowout on the Atlanta Falcons that saw 88 total yards on the ground for Forte and Bell. Forte also caught for 90 yards and a touchdown.
Since then the Bears run game has hit a veritable brick wall. Rushing for a total of 68 (New Orleans Saints), and 13 (Green Bay Packers) yards and no touchdowns in the proceeding two weeks. Good for dead last in the NFL. Blame can be placed on attempts (10 vs Saints, 9 vs Packers), or the inept blocking Bears fans have had to witness from the offensive line (Cutler sacked 14 times in three games), either way the Bears need to figure something out to cure the ills of the running game.
If they "get off the bus running" as head coach Lovie Smith has so aptly stated in the past, then they are stepping on one big pile of crap as soon as their feet touch the ground. Hopefully now that Barber is back and healthy, he can breathe new life into the Bears ground game and take some of the attention away from Jay Cutler and the enigmatic passing offense.
Texas Sized Problem
The Bears got a nice chunk of the Dallas Cowboys offense in the offseason. Acquiring over 3,046 yards receiving, and 4,358 yards rushing from Barber, Roy Williams and wide receiver Sam Hurd while playing for Dallas. Unfortunately for the pair of Hurd and Williams, that hasn't translated over to the Bears yet. Hurd and Williams combined have only caught 6 passes for 85 yards and no touchdowns. And much more maligned is the fact that they have both been targeted for beyond 6 times. Dropped passes and bad route running have plagued both the offense and the trust Jay Cutler lies within the pair, opting to go for targets like Dane Sanzenbacher or Matt Forte.
"As I See It,"
I'm hoping that Barber can break the trend of Cowboy mediocrity on the Bears and motivate his other former Dallas teammates to step up and produce.