The specifics aren’t really important as much as the overall. And while individual plays and schemes were generally vanilla, the underlying offensive philosophy wasn’t.
The ’15 Bears ran the football, just as offensive coordinator Adam Gase said they would. Interestingly, they did it in a hurry much of the time.
In Thursday’s first half the Bears went to the line of scrimmage without a huddle 16 times. Two of the snaps were nullified by penalties but that still had them running 14 of their 29 plays in the half without a huddle.
“I like it,” said quarterback Jay Cutler. “I like it a lot. It gives us a lot of time on the clock; if we want to change a play, want to go to something else, we can. I think it kind of wore the defense out as we progressed throughout the game. The way the game got going there toward the end, I think that was because we ran so many plays.”
Gase, in line with the thinking of coach John Fox, said that the Bears will run the football. Without starting running back Matt Forte, the Bears rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns, and, more important, did it with a balanced game plan that may be the template for 2015.
Gase stayed the course despite a spate of offensive penalties and gave the offensive line a chance to right itself. He called six run plays vs. three passes in a first quarter that saw the Bears manage just 49 yards. But the pattern was set: The first half ended with the Bears throwing on their last seven plays, in a hurry-up situation over 1:02. But prior to that, Gase sent in 11 running plays and exactly 11 pass plays.
The game planning may have been simple and intentionally non-revealing, but the overall was revealing: 33 runs, 34 pass plays, and the latter with those seven straight in the final hurry up minute of the first half.
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“All the running backs did great tonight,” said quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who played the majority of the game. “I thought they did a great job, as well as the offensive line up front, opening holes for those guys.”
Not that the past means anything, but in last year’s opening first half under Marc Trestman the Bears piled up 14 points and 197 yards but in what turned out to be an ominous foreshadowing, threw the ball 24 times and ran it just 12. Meaning: a 67-33 pass run ratio. For the Trestman regime, the ratio turned out to be 63-37.
That time, and not so much the football, is passed.