Remember the old Lovie Smith adage "Getting off the bus running"? Remember when we couldn't wait until that line was put to rest after trading for Jay Cutler? Now, the same one-liner is music to our ears.
Against a stingy Jets defense that was ranked 5th overall and 4th against the rush, Matt Forte rushed for 113 yards, only the third time a running back has rushed for over 100 yards on the Jets' defense under Rex Ryan.
Forte now has 978 rushing yards with an average 4.41 yards per carry. Before the bye, Forte rushed for 352 yards on 92 carries for an average of 3.91 yards per carry. After the bye, he's rushed for 626 yards on 132 carries for average of 4.74.
In the first half of the season, the Bears weren't producing on the
ground for a couple reasons. Maybe it was because of the lack of trying or maybe it was because the offensive line couldn't open any running lanes. We saw a Bears offense that fell into the Mike
Martz-spell of gaining huge chunks of yards on one play that often
resulted with an offensive lineman helping Jay Cutler off the ground
after being pummeled by a blitzing defender.
After watching Cutler get sacked nine times in the first half against
the Giants, fingers started pointing towards Martz's rogue play calling
in getting Cutler concussed and the lack of talent upfront that is
supposed to protect him.
Against the Panthers, the Bears were essentially forced to run and we
saw a glimpse of what the running game could do (218 rushing yards), if
only Martz committed to it.
In the next two games against the Seahawks and Redskins, the Bears
rushed for a combined 127 yards on 30 attempts. The Bears took a step forward against the Panthers but took two steps back against teams they should have beaten.
The bye week came after these two losses and at the right time. It gave
the Bears an opportunity to re-evaluate their offensive philosophy for
the sake of Cutler's safety and for the Bears to salvage their season.
Since the bye week, the Bears have rushed for over 100 yards in every
game, except against the Patriots. In the same stretch the Bears are
7-1. This commitment to the run has kept defenses off balanced, the
Bears' defense off the field and it gave the offensive line reps to learn how
to work and block together.