'Balance' formula working for Bears' O

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'Balance' formula working for Bears' O

That offense is taking the shape it did the last two years when it made its biggest strides. The Bears are 4-0 in games when they put up at least 25 runs, losing only at Green Bay when some mysterious interloper started calling plays.

I think there was a guy that was calling plays in Green Bay that didnt call the run enough, offensive coordinator Mike Tice deadpanned. I think that was a part of the problem. Hopefully hes not showing up this week.

Best guess: not.

But while the Bears want to run the ball for better than the 4.1 yards per carry they are averaging only at Green Bay and Jacksonville have they averaged more than 4 yards per rush the formula for success has proved to be balance, Brandon Marshall notwithstanding.

The Bears have run 321 plays. Of those, 151 (47 percent) have been runs.

I think its imperative to get the run going each week because you have to have balance, Tice said. Playactions dont work when you cant run the ball. And typically throughout the league, if you look at it, the big shots come off of play action, because youre not getting that really quick pass rush.

When you go play action, you have to make them stop and re-start and when you do that, then can get some shots down the field.

Not coincidentally, the Bears worst passing game this year also was in Green Bay: seven sacks, 74 total air yards.

Cutlers longest completion was 22 yards, the only game in which he has not had a completion of at least 34 yards.

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base

LOS ANGELES – The Cubs drafted and developed Ian Happ with the idea of turning him into a Ben Zobrist-type player who would move quickly through the farm system and surface as a versatile big-league contributor and/or legitimate trade chip.

With Zobrist sidelined because of a sore left wrist, the Cubs got their first look at Happ playing second base in The Show during Saturday’s 5-0 loss at Dodger Stadium. That kind of depth – plugging in a 2015 first-round pick while a World Series MVP rests – should ultimately propel the Cubs over the course of a 162-game season.

Even as the Cubs stutter-step through a 25-23 start, there are enough choices for the best defensive second baseman on the team and a National League Championship Series co-MVP (Javier Baez) to sit on the bench.

“We know that the talent’s there,” Zobrist said. “It’s not like having any one or two guys out of the lineup is a big drop-off for us because of the talent that’s there. And we know that just because we have a lot of young players doesn’t mean that they’re not extremely capable of doing the job as well.”

Zobrist – who’s reached base in 23 straight games and emerged as a new leadoff option with Kyle Schwarber struggling – felt something on an awkward swing in the first inning of Friday’s 4-0 loss to the Dodgers. Zobrist played through it that night and called it a “day-to-day thing” that didn’t require an MRI.

[MORE: Is Joe Maddon turning Kyle Schwarber into a platoon player?

Facing Clayton Kershaw on Sunday after back-to-back shutouts will be a game-time decision.

“It’s tough,” Zobrist said. “We just haven’t strung together enough quality at-bats to score runs the last two games. It’s not just because of us. They’ve pitched well. Their pitchers are pretty hot right now. They’ve spotted up. They’ve gotten early strikes where they needed to and then gone to work pretty well on us.

“The task doesn’t get any easier tomorrow with Kershaw. We just got to keep trying to chip away.”

Morning Update: White Sox officially announce signing of Luis Robert, split doubleheader

Morning Update: White Sox officially announce signing of Luis Robert, split doubleheader

Here are the top Chicago sports stories from Saturday: 

Preview: Cubs look to avoid getting swept by Dodgers today on CSN

Preview: Knights look to bounce back tonight on CSN

White Sox courting of Luis Robert leads to 'Christmas in May'

Cubs blanked again by Dodgers

Tyler Danish gets win in first big league start as White Sox beat Tigers in first game of doubleheader

After getting shut down by Buck Farmer, White Sox ninth-inning rally falls short

Scott Boras fires back at Jake Arrieta’s critics and makes another Max Scherzer comparison

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Luis Robert will start journey through White Sox organization in Dominican Summer League

With Ben Zobrist sidelined by sore wrist, Cubs move Ian Happ to second base