Will Chicago Bears' passing attack improve against Packers?
In his weekly media briefing, Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains addressed the issue even before taking the question he knew was inevitable:
"We're very aware that it's going to be hard to win NFL games throwing for just over 100 yards."
Last week, the Bears' 220 rushing yards more than made up for their puny 101 yards through the air in a 23-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I think a lot of credit should go to Mike (Glennon)," Loggains said. "If you eliminate dropped balls, he'd have finished 19 of 22, and he did exactly what he needed to do to win that game."
More accurately, the Bears' quarterback did the bare minimum in a winning effort.
But by running roughshod over the Steelers, future opponents must allocate more resources to stopping the Bears' diverse running attack featuring Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.
That should allow Glennon and a mediocre group of wide receivers more room to operate -- at least theoretically.
Bears wideouts combined for 1 catch and 9 yards last week, and they'll need to be more productive going forward, starting with Thursday night's nationally televised game against the Packers in Green Bay.
"The run game is a quarterback's best friend," said Bears coach John Fox, who's a staunch advocate of the ground attack but would like more balance in the offense.
"You always try to be two-dimensional, meaning run and pass," Fox said. "Any successful offense tries to do that, and we'll continue to try to improve in that area."
The Bears' run game and run defense both are top 10. They've outrushed their opponents 365-251 and have a 5.0-yard average per carry compared to their opponents' 3.4.
"Anytime you run for (220 yards), it should open up the pass game because people have to respect our running game," said Glennon, who will be making his first start at Lambeau Field.
"And that's kind of our identity -- we're a run-first team. With those guys up front and our running backs, I think we'll continue to be that."
Because the Steelers often dropped seven or eight defenders into coverage and were focused on not allowing any long completions, it also made the running backs an integral part of the Bears' limited passing game.
Only three Bears caught more than 1 pass in Week 3, and all three were running backs.
Howard led the way with 5 catches for 26 yards, to go with his 138 rushing yards on 23 carries (6.0-yard average). Cohen, who rushed for 78 yards on 12 carries, was next with 4 receptions for 24 yards.
Benny Cunningham did not get a single carry, but he caught 3 passes for 23 yards, and 2 of his receptions picked up first downs.
Glennon said Cunningham's contributions may have been overlooked but were significant.
"Obviously Tarik and Jordan had huge games, but Benny played a big part as well in doing his job," Glennon said. He does all the little things right. He's behind the scenes, a guy you don't hear a lot about, but as good a pro as I've been around at the running back position.
"He had those two big third-down converts, and that's kind of what his role is, and he does his role very well."