The commitment to the run was reminiscent of Halas’s days as Bears head coach – a time when helmets were made of leather and the passing game was nonexistent.
In the 27-24 victory in overtime, Jordan Howard led the way with his 36 carries for 167 yards. Despite battling an aching right shoulder injury, the second-year back lowered that shoulder to deliver crushing blows to opposing defenders – fighting for every yard.
Howard’s biggest run of the game came on the offense’s second possession in overtime. With 5:40 remaining in the game, the Bears lined up in 12 personnel (two tight ends, two wide receivers) and ran the ball left.
Despite the Ravens stacking the box, Howard made a cut, broke an arm tackle from Eric Weddle and accelerated up the field for a 53-yard pickup.
A few plays later Mitch Trubisky converted on third-and-11 with a crucial pass to Kendall Wright to seal the victory for the Bears.
In the Bears two wins, the offense has eclipsed 200 yards rushing. Against the Steelers in week 3, the Bears racked up 222 yards on the ground with Howard leading the way with 23 carries for 140 yards.
No question, the offense should be oriented around its running game.
With a young quarterback and receivers who struggle to get open, the Bears must run the football frequently and effectively. But for that to happen offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains must change up his play calling, especially on first down.
In the first half, when Trubisky was under center on first down a run was called 12 of 14 times and that equated to 27 yards. The numbers looked extremely similar in the second half with 10 of 12 first down plays being runs under center, which came out to 36 yards of offense. Opposing defensive coordinators are going to know exactly what the Bears game plan is and will find ways to stop it.
That ground and pound game would have been perfect back when Halas was coaching, and in yesterday’s game it worked, but Loggains must get with the times if he wants his unit to be competitive moving forward.