The Bears managed to accumulate a modest 94 yards on 27 carries for a mediocre 3.5-yard average in Friday night's 20-17 victory over the Giants -- and that was their best rushing performance of the preseason.
Pro Bowl running back Matt Forte got his most extensive playing time so far but found no running room in the first half against the Giants' starting defense, picking up 4 yards on 8 carries.
Playing against New York's second-team defense on the opening possession of the third quarter, Forte had back-to-back carries for 24 and 11 yards, allowing him to finish with a respectable 39 yards on 10 attempts.
Those are the only 2 carries of more than 10 yards by a Bears running back in the three preseason games. On Friday night, running backs totaled just 67 yards on 21 carries for a 3.2-yard average.
"We have to get Matt going," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "We're not going to be a successful offense if we can't run the ball."
Making opponents respect the run game will keep the pass rush at bay and give Cutler time to exploit the talents of Brandon Marshall, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Alshon Jeffery.
"In order to set up that pass, we have to be able to run the ball better," coach Lovie Smith said. "It's as simple as that."
But the Bears have yet to establish a ground presence.
"We didn't really execute too well," Forte said Friday night. "We did pretty good in the passing game, but once you can't get the running game going in the first half, that kind of shuts down the passing game.
"The running game always takes longer. That's why we play preseason games I guess."
Smith says the Bears are still trying to figure out how to get the run game going. But Forte and backup Michael Bush aren't expected to play much, if at all, in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Browns in Cleveland, so they'll have to do it in practice.
"Some nights you have to give them credit," Smith said. "(The Giants) have a good front four and front seven, and they played excellent defense today."
But the Giants played without Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and linebacker Michael Boley and still held Forte and Bush to 6 yards on 9 carries.
"You just have to stay committed to the run, which we will do," Smith said. "Some days you won't be able to rush for over 100 yards or 200 yards, but we will keep pounding it."
Indications are that the Bears will keep pounding it behind J'Marcus Webb at left tackle. He didn't appear to do anything to win the job against the Giants, but backup Chris Williams didn't do anything to take the job either.
"I would like some resolution," Webb said. "(But) that's not up to me. I feel like if I keep working hard, everything will work out."