Bears have to hand it to Forte - literally

It sounds as if everyone at Halas Hall wants to run the football more often except the guy who's calling the plays - coach Marc Trestman - and even he appears to finally be coming around to that way of thinking.

In a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Lions at Detroit the Bears abandoned the ground game, running just seven times for 14 yards, plus a Jay Cutler kneel-down that lost 1 yard.

They had 51 pass plays.

That play selection hasn't gone over well with the rank and file.

"I trust our offensive line, and those guys want to run the ball, too," said running back Matt Forte, who had just 5 carries for 6 yards. "I know they were upset about the outcome of last week."

The Bears host Dallas on Thursday night looking for a more equitable distribution between run and pass. To find the kind of balance that has been missing this season, Trestman needs only to look at the offensive game plan that worked so well a year ago in the Bears' 45-28 romp over the Cowboys.

The Bears ran 32 times for 149 yards and had 37 pass plays.

"We felt like last year we kept good balance in the game," offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer said. "We felt like that ratio helped us, and hopefully we can continue that game plan. Maybe not the same runs or the same passes, but keeping that balance will always help our team."

It would benefit the air attack as well, according to quarterback Jay Cutler.

"You want to throw the ball," Cutler said. "You want to throw touchdowns. You want to throw for big yards. But you definitely want to win football games, and anyone who has been doing this for a while realizes that you've got to have the best of both worlds.

"You've got to move the pocket; you've got to be able to run the ball; you've got to do some play-action; you've got to mix it up. There's no one out there who can drop back 40-50 times consistently and win football games."

Forte agrees, and not just because he wants more carries, which he certainly does. Forte also that knows a balanced attack is best for everyone, especially with three straight games at Soldier Field and a season finale outdoors in Minnesota.

"It's of the utmost importance, especially if we're playing outside," Forte said. "You can't just sit back there and throw 50 passes a game and expect to win. Their front four (in Detroit) were pinning their ears back. They didn't have anything to do but pass rush.

"They're not respecting the run, and then, if you play-fake, they're not going take the fake because you haven't been running the ball. It's a big part of the play-action game, to keep the defense (from knowing) whether it's pass rush or stop the run."

The Bears have a more lopsided pass-run ratio than they had last year, but they have not been nearly as effective throwing the long ball. Part of the reason is because defenses can focus more energy on the deep ball when they don't have to respect the run.

"It's a lot of things," Cutler said. "We haven't scored early, so we've been behind a little bit, and we haven't run the ball as well as we wanted to early on, (so) we haven't really forced teams to come up and play us tight."

As a result, the Bears' top three yardage receivers from last season - wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennett - all are averaging fewer yards per catch than they did in 2013. Jeffery has the biggest drop from 16.0 yards to 12.7.

Trestman appears to have seen the error of his ways.

"We have to attempt to run the ball more," the Bears' coach said. "As I told the team, we don't have to run the ball for seven yards a carry. Running the football has a residual effect on a lot of different things. It helps your play-action game (and) it gives your (offensive linemen) a chance to come off (the ball).

"So we'll try to do more of that. It's something we certainly want to do each and every week. We didn't get it done last week; we admit to that. We have to get some more balance."

The time is now. Although the Cowboys (8-4) are a much-improved team this year, they're still only 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 27th in average gain allowed per run.

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