Jay Cutler blames Chicago’s struggling running game on facing unusual, at least to NFC teams, 3-4 defenses. “It will be good to get back to a 4-3,” the Bears quarterback said of playing Seattle this week. It’s a little bit more conventional, a little bit more right in front of you. You can see what’s going on.” What’s been going on is Matt Forte has been going nowhere.
Jay Cutler blames Chicago’s struggling running game on facing unusual, at least to NFC teams, 3-4 defenses.
“It will be good to get back to a 4-3,” the Bears quarterback said of playing Seattle this week. It’s a little bit more conventional, a little bit more right in front of you. You can see what’s going on.”
What’s been going on is Matt Forte has been going nowhere. He’s last in the NFL with an average of 2.2 yards per run. Forte, though, doesn’t put the blame on going up against four linebackers.
“A lot of people like to say the 3-4 is easier to run against because of the bubbles in there,” he said.
He used to be one of them. Before playing Green Bay, Forte scoffed at the idea that Cutler’s passing was needed to loosen up Green Bay’s run defense.
“It’s already loosened up,” Forte said three weeks ago. “They’ve got three D linemen and the linebackers on the outside. There are two big holes in there.”
No, there weren’t. Not against either 3-4 opponent. Forte (84 yards on 38 carries) had the two worst games of his career the last two weeks.
“It’s somewhat frustrating, but you can’t get frustrated,” he said, “because then you start looking for holes to run through and you may miss a cut and miss out on some yards.”
Chicago’s offensive linemen say Forte’s problems are their problems.
“We haven’t blocked very well,” said Olin Kreutz, Chicago’s six-time Pro Bowl center.
Even beating the Super Bowl champion Steelers hasn’t erased the Bears’ disappointment with their run game.
“We’re not going to say we’re just happy to win and we don’t have to run the ball,” Kreutz said. “We know we have to run the ball.”
Throwing passes to players behind the line of scrimmage who then run for first downs doesn’t count.
“The screen game is not the run game,” Kreutz said. “We’re working on the run game.”
Cutler rebounding from a four-interception opener to lead Chicago to a pair of pass-heavy fourth-quarter drives last week might give Forte more room to run in the future.
“We have the tools, so why not try to pass it or run it whenever we need to?” left guard Frank Omiyale said. “They have to respect Cutler. Hopefully, that plays to our favor.”
It might, but Forte and Kreutz aren’t counting on it.
“Everybody stacks the line against everybody,” Kreutz said, dismissing that as an excuse.?“You are going to be the target as a running back anywhere, all season, every game,”
Forte agreed. “It doesn’t matter if they have eight, nine men in the box, whatever. I have to make plays. I have to break tackles to make the running game work.”
Seattle might be the place to start. San Francisco’s Frank Gore had runs of 79 and 80 yards against the Seahawks last week. Forte, who had 1,238 yards last year, said one big run can jump-start a back.
“You would like to get 4, 5 yards every time, but it usually doesn’t happen like that,” Forte said. “You get 2 here, 3 there, then get a 4-yarder. Once you wear the defense down, you may pop a 40- or 50-yarder. It just takes time. You’ve got to keep hitting it and not give up on the running game.”
No one has in the Bears locker room.
“We’ve got a good offensive line. We’ve got good running backs. We’ll be able to run the ball,” offensive coordinator Ron Turner said.
“I never doubt myself in anything that I do,” Forte said. “If you believe in yourself, that’s part of being able to do it.”
Matt Trowbridge can be reached at (815) 987-1383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.