Best guess for the 2015 Bears offense is that head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase will not only establish a credible run game, but also one built around two running backs. It’s what Fox has always done, even with Peyton Manning as his quarterback.
But whether reaching a Super Bowl is contingent upon a run game with two backs carrying the football at least 100 times each is an interesting what-if.
Teams over the past decade have won Super Bowls without going a meaningful two-deep at running back. But only with either a Hall of Fame quarterback or a historic defense.
The New England Patriots won the last Super Bowl with zero backs netting 100 carries. But they also had four with 60 or more carries, and Tom Brady.
The Seattle Seahawks won the previous one with only one 100-carry back. But it was Marshawn Lynch (301), Russell Wilson (96) and Robert Turbin (77) combined for 173 carries, the Seahawks ran the football 52 percent of the time, and they fielded a defense ranked No. 1 in yardage and points allowed, by significant margins.
The 2010 Green Bay Packers had only Brandon Jackson (172) with 100 carries. But like New England, they had something of an offsetting edge at quarterback.
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As for GM Ryan Pace’s perspectives, he was with 2009 New Orleans Saints who won a Super Bowl riding Drew Brees. But the Saints still ran the football on 45 percent of their snaps and also had two 100-carry backs — Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas — in addition to Reggie Bush with 70.
When the 2006 Indianapolis Colts defeated the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, they had Manning but also handed the football to Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes a combined 413 times.
The Bears got to that Super Bowl with a defense bordering on historic before Tommie Harris’ season-ending injury in game 11, and with 453 carries by Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson. They got to their only other Super Bowl with a historic defense, and even with Walter Payton carrying 324 times, Matt Suhey also had 115.