Bears' Mills not all the way back, but run game shouldn’t be a worry

Bears' Mills not all the way back, but run game shouldn’t be a worry
August 20, 2014, 6:45 pm
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The Bears’ starting offensive line hasn’t been together more than a few offseason snaps this year and for none of the preseason games. It won’t be together in Seattle, either, with right tackle Jordan Mills back practicing on a limited basis on his sore left foot but not expected to be cleared for full go until next Monday.

That does not bode well for a Bears rushing offense that has been abysmal through two preseason games and now faces a rushing defense (Seattle’s, No. 7 in 2013) in the class with that of the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 4) for average rush allowed.

But should there be a concern with the NFL’s only offensive line that had its team in the top 10 for both rushing average and sack percentage?

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“The running game always takes a little bit longer to get jelled unless someone really makes a mistake on defense in these preseason games and then you break a big one,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer.

And that “big one” hasn’t happened; no Bears back has had a run longer than Ka’Deem Carey’s 15-yarder against Jacksonville.

Neither Mills nor right guard Kyle Long (viral infection) played against Philadelphia. Mills was out for Jacksonville. Mills was nowhere close to the Bears’ best offensive lineman last season, but the Bears averaged 6.27 yards per play over right guard, No. 2 in the NFL last year, an indication of the significance of one starter from a group whose unit cohesion is vital to team success.

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More significant in assigning any significance to the Bears’ dismal start to the rushing year: This is not the first preseason that the Bears might have gotten off the bus running but tripped. The offense over the last four years has only once rushed for a better average in the preseason than it did when it mattered:

YEAR PRESEASON REGULAR SEASON
2014 2.9 TBD
2013 4.4 4.5
2012 3.6 4.2
2011 3.8 4.4
2010 4.2 3.9

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To a finer point, Matt Forte’s preseasons have been as wildly erratic as his regular seasons have been consistent:

YEAR PRESEASON REGULAR SEASON
2014 -1.0 TBD
2013 9.9 4.6
2012 3.9 4.4
2011 3.9 4.9
2010 10.2 4.5

“We just have to do a better job of blocking and understanding the angles we’re trying to run,” Kromer said, “and I believe we’ll get that done as time goes.”