Improved Chicago Bears run game would be a big help to Trubisky
In Chicago for decades now when the offense struggles all arrows have been aimed at the quarterback.
Mitch Trubisky, in particular, is everyone's favorite target.
Due to the franchise's miserable track record trying to fill the game's most important position and in large part to Trubisky's original price tag -- in dollars and draft capital -- that is not shocking.
But the simple facts are that the Chicago Bears' drop through these first three games, from 21st in total offense and ninth in scoring last season to 29th in total offense and 26th in points this season, is not all on Trubisky.
One of the best ways to aid a struggling quarterback is with a ground game, and what should be at least as disappointing as Trubisky's play so far is the Bears' running game, which is just 21st in the league and terribly skewed by one 46-yard run from Cordarrelle Patterson and a 25-yarder from David Montgomery, without which the Bears actually would be 27th after finishing 11th last year.
That after the Bears replaced three of their four backs, investing third-, fourth- and fifth-round draft picks in David Montgomery, a seventh in Kerrith Whyte, making Mike Davis a priority free agent and adding Patterson.
Trubisky has to get better, but it sure would help if defenses didn't know they could drop six and seven in coverage and force him to stand in the pocket and try to beat them.
Part of the problem for head coach Matt Nagy has been a reluctance to thrust the rookie Montgomery into a dominant role and not knowing the group overall that well.
Nagy said Wednesday: "It needs to get better. Our run game needs to improve. And so there's not much more you can say to that other than we know that we want to be better from quarters one through three and not just in the four-minute mode there in the fourth quarter."
Sorting out who can do what, Nagy said: "David's doing a lot of good things right now and all three of them are.
"With Tarik, you got him kind of as that hybrid guy that's a running back-wide receiver, and where we're at with that, we're still kind of learning.
"Mike Davis -- Mike's done everything we've asked him to do in his role, and I think for us it's a good problem to have because we've got three guys we really trust."
While we understand all of that and it is only Week 4, as Nagy says, "it needs to get better."
Realistically the backs definitely aren't the whole problem.
Kyle Long finally is healthy (we think) and was expected to have a big bounce-back year.
But Long has struggled so far, James Daniels and Cody Whitehair still have just three NFL games each at their new positions, and Charles Leno already has more dumb penalties than he had all last season.
While Nagy was reluctant to criticize his backs, he showed no such restraint with their bodyguards.
"I think we can play a little bit better there." Nagy said of the O-line. "I think we can be better there. They know that."
There also is Trubisky's missing contribution after he was the NFL's fifth-leading quarterback rusher last season with 68 carries for 421 yards, a 6.2 average. Through three games this season, he has added just 5-21, 4.2.
"It's obvious I'm not running as much as I did last year early on," Trubisky said. "Defenses definitely take notice of that. I think that's what helped us on third down last year, me picking it up with my feet and opening things up.
"I think it will come. It's not something you force necessarily."
At the moment, the Bears are just 14th in the league in passing percentage in run-pass ratio at 62% pass-38% run, with the team directly behind them the Kansas City Chiefs at 61.5% pass-37.5%, so it's hard to argue that, while play-calling was an issue last year, it is the problem this year.
This much is clear, a better running game by itself may not make Trubisky a better quarterback, but it sure would make his life a lot easier.
It's not something he can do on his own.