Coaches and players do not obsess with balance, but they also know what works for them. Offensive coordinator and line coach Aaron Kromer, with particular responsibilities for the run game, is not looking for the Bears to get into a shoot-out against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
“As long as we keep balance, and you saw the games where we had balance, we were a better offense and quite honestly that’s where we’ve been when we’ve had success offensively, when we get scoring drives,” Kromer said. “It’s play-actions, it’s running the ball and then controlled passing game.”
That was what worked for the San Francisco 49ers when they came back behind Frank Gore’s rushing to defeat the Packers in week one.
And that was what worked when McCown took over in the loss at Washington and a key part of that was the effect of balance with Matt Forte, who had 14 touches in the second half.
Forte had just four carries, for nine yards, in the first half of the Washington game. With McCown taking over late in the half and operating the offense in the second, Forte carried 12 times and netted 82 yards as well as two touchdowns.
Significantly, the play calling in the first half was five runs vs. 12 pass plays – a 30-70 ratio.
In the second, the balance was closer to 38 percent run – Forte also caught both of the passes on which he was targeted – with the result that the Bears never punted and scored on four straight possessions, which would have been five but for a rare missed field goal.
It was an offensive formula that worked and made use of the skill sets of Forte. Given that the offense piled up 313 yards and 24 points in the second half behind McCown, best guess is that the Bears will be in no hurry to change much of anything, but rather stay a course that served them and McCown well.
“Well, last week we continued on the game plan that we had and Josh handled it very well,” offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer deadpanned answering a question as to what the Bears might have to change with McCown and not Cutler taking the snaps.
That will involve Forte, who has averaged 91 total yards in nine career games vs. Green Bay, although he has scored just once with 176 total touches.
“The running game is every quarterback’s best friend,” Kromer said. “We said that a couple weeks back when Jay was our quarterback.
What to look for: Running against the mastodons up front in the Green Bay 3-4 will be difficult. The Packers are allowing only 83.6 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 3.7 yards per carry (tied for sixth). But Forte is as effective coming out of the backfield as a receiver and looms as perhaps the single most important player for the Bears.