Leave the Run, Take the Over

I remember sitting at Rod's in Sea Girt in December of 2005, watching that tough Chicago Bears team lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the snow
I remember thinking to myself, even as the clock wound down on our
fifth loss of the season, that this was the kind of football game I
liked.  Nothing but inside runs and gang tackles and thick clouds of
breath in the Pittsburgh air.  Well...forget about all that.  In 2005,
Pittsburgh ranked fifth and Chicago eighth in the league in rushing. 
In 2008, twenty-third and twenty-fourth respectively. 

year looks to be no different.  Against the Tennessee Titans, Pitt ran
the ball 22 times for 33 yards.  You could kneel down 22 times and
average more yards per carry.  Against the much-weaker Packers front
seven, the Bears gained only 70 yards on 28 carries.  In other words,
don't expect a battle for time of possession on Sunday afternoon.  But
will the two teams combine for 80 pass attempts, as predicted by Brad Biggs

I think so.  With Zack Bowman making his first start at corner and the Bears whacking Trumaine McBride
after singing his praises only a week ago, one has to think Big Ben is
salivating at the thought of facing this secondary-in-flux.  Tennesee
has a terrific back four and Ben dissected them for yardage, hitting
Holmes (9-131), Ward (8-103) and Miller (8-64) seemingly at will.  I
thought coming into the season that offenses would be quick to abandon
the run game and attack the Bears defense through the air to the tune
of at least 40 attempts per game.  I think that starts Sunday.

And don't sleep on Chicago's passing game.  Sure it's the current fashion to criticize Jay Cutler's facial ticks and decision making
but this is one confident kid and a hell of a ball-thrower.  Even on
one of the poorest nights of his career, he completed six balls over
twenty yards - unheard of for a Bears quarterback.  Deep down the field
is where the Bears had their most success and deep down the field is
where Troy Polamalu used to prowl.  Our wide receivers are
inconsistent but one thing they do brilliantly (specifically
Hester/Knox) is run faster than everybody else.  The world (including
me, this morning) is expecting a more conservative, checkdown-oriented
#6.  The opposite just might be the key to beating the champs.    


Leave a comment
  • Rods. Great Bar. It's Frankie Kineavy's place. I've witnessed plenty of Bear games there. However, that 05 Pitt game had one stand out feature to it. Lack got bulldozed by The Bus and it was ugly. Never like seeing Bears beat up. Have odd feeling they're going show pass and run all over us. The old contrarian play. We set up pass defenses all week and Steelers practice on mauling us up front. We're too light and Pitt might just outwork/muscle C2 front line. Tommy's going to be exposed in this one. 0-2 might be in the making.

  • In reply to tkfay:

    Frankie lives around the corner from my uncle. I've been going there what feels like forever. We should do a Jersey shore Bears party, hosted by the blog.

  • In reply to tkfay:

    You make a good case for the passing game Jeff. The question is: does Turner have the stomach for it?

  • In reply to tkfay:

    From Fox's Pete Schrager: Steelers 31 bears 14.

  • In reply to tkfay:

    It's subtle, Jeff, but I LOVE the GODFATHER ispired thread title. Too Bad Clemenza's gone. He made a great coach for Michael: "Remember, two shots in the head apiece."

  • In reply to tkfay:

    You won't get snow this time around but you might get rain. That should go well with the freshly laid sod.

  • Both teams had terrible running stats in their first games of the season, you can bet both the Bears and Steelers will make a concerted effort to try and establish their respective running game. Just because a team is committed to the run, doesn't mean they won't put up serious points. In fact, the team that can run the ball most effectively will probably put up the most points. I know that's not really a bold statement, but I wanted to point out just because a team is committed to the run, doesn't mean they can't or won't score in bunches. You said that going over the top of the defense could be the key to winning this game, well, one way to get over the top would be to force the opposing defense to stack the box with their SS by establishing an effective run game. Both defensive lines look good enough to be able to get after the QB and allow the LBs and Ss to drop back in coverage to stop the pass, but whatever team can force those backers up to the line and the safeties in the box will have more success in the passing game. So really, the big key to the passing game is finding the ability to run the ball, provided the o-line can also pass protect and pick up the blitz.

  • The Steelers can't afford to bring a safety up in the box with Polamalu out, can they? They'd be leaving a depleted secondary on an island.

  • In reply to JeffHughes:

    They can if Matt Forte makes them.

  • In reply to JeffHughes:


  • In reply to JeffHughes:

    Albert, thanks for noticing. I always wonder if my readership isn't too young to make those kinds of references SUBTLY. I'm not big on including pop culture stuff in sports writing but that was too good to pass up.

  • In reply to JeffHughes:


    sorry I disagree, the run sets up the pass and validates the need to bite on the play action pass. RT alreaady did that game plan in Green Bay, the same one he tries too all often of pass pass pass punt, like I said before, I would rather have 3 or 4 three and outs trying the running game most of the time in the beginning of the game and take your shots when possible, but they need to make sure Jay isnt running for his life for the first half of the game like he was last week. Then he settles in and presents himself as stoic in the pocket as he did last week in the second half.

    It's ok if it works out early within two drives, but if its not then move on. He may be guilty of just trying it out too long. Had it worked early, he would seem like a genius.

    The other issue is that I hope that the defense is working on how to not bite too hard on the 20 fake pumps that burgertime does during each passing play. That stuff is a killer. Jay probably would have had some success last week with some fake pumps too, the fakes would have let him see that his receivers were breaking off their routes.

    I still think there is some validity to the offense working on actually game planning to break off their routes on purpose while Jay fake pumps and then hits them open behind the D. Pittsburgh will watch that game film and figure to see some of the same stuff that we produced last week. then we can use that to our advantage. That's just me though, not an xo guy, just seems to make sense to me.

    Im always going to be a run first guy in the beginning of the game, take the time to feel each other out, let the coorinators see what is happening with the corners, the matchups etc..., then strike with a plan after deducing how the defense is reacting to what you are doing out there.

    I know I am blithering again. I have to get up at 0500 my monday to see the bears game. maybe I will get up at 0200 to see how that fantasy stuff is going though.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    I was just thinking about the pump fake last night, and how big Ben does a great job getting corners ans safeties to bite. I think it's definitely something Jay should use, but only CAN use when he has time in the pocket, something that was hard to come by last weekend.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Hey Jeff-

    See I feel that last week's game just confirmed in the minds of our coaching staff that thier conservative approach to the offense is the right way to go..My concern is that they go in the complete opposite direction...last week they clearly were enamored with thier "shiny new toy"...but this week my feeling is they go right back to the run in a big way...

    Not sure if thats the right thing to do, particularly with Troy out of the secondary, but we shall see...

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Jeff. Yeah, lets hook up and watch the Bears drive us crazy. For all the years I've been a Bear fan, I know much pain. Might as well share it.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    I disagree, Shonbear. I am a proponent of passing to set up running, in many situations. With a Quarterback like Cutler, definately open the field up, slice and dice the secondary. Then pound away at them with Forte.

    I love an 8 yard completion on first down, followed by a 3 or 4 yard rush to pick up the first.

    It is true that rushing will control the clock, but I think passing controls the momentum of the game. Now, that strategy only works with an excellent passer (which Jay is). With a Jonathan Quinn, you have to run to set up the pass.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Per Chicagobears.com

    "Zackary Bowman will replace Nate Vasher at cornerback, while Nick Roach will start but share reps with Jamar Williams at strongside linebacker against the Steelers."


  • In reply to shonbear:

    I don't see the Bears running the ball successfully in 2 TE, 2RB sets with only 1 or 2 WRs. That formation allows the defense to stack the box and blitz the LBs and Ss to stop the run, and drop the CBs back to prevent the long pass. I think the Bears would be better off spreading the Pitt defense out with a 4 WR formation and allowing our guys up front to win the 1-on-1 battles to spring Forte into the 2nd level.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    I'm afraid of the run this week. I think that is really where we will miss urlacher. It showed in the second half of last weeks game. Dickhead had a few nice runs up the middle after urlacher was out. Hillenmeyer, who needs a nickname on this site, how about The Thinker? Is better in coverage than he is against the run, and pit just might expose that.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    The media is so stupid... look at this page:

    on the right column there are thumbs of Payton and Cutler. They are supposed to be pictures reminding us of how great Payton was and pictures of how Jay smirks and pouts; but their expressions are pretty identical. Should be on Jay Leno or something.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    Payne out, Manning in as FS. Lava still starting at SS. So we change up half of our secondary. Should be interesting. Hope it works out.

  • In reply to shonbear:

    In which Rick Morrissey gets taken down a peg:

    Are there any pegs left?

  • In reply to lytlepatrick:

    Thanks for that link!

Leave a comment