LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — It’s unusual to see Chicago unable to run the football. Then again, it’s not exactly common to see the Bears with an 8-3 record, either.
Without being overly consumed by the thought, coach Matt Nagy expressed a desire Friday to get the dormant running game moving better than in Thursday’s 23-16 victory over the Detroit Lions or in other recent victories.
“I don’t think too much is being made of it,” Nagy said. “You have to be able to run the football inevitably. You can’t be one-dimensional. It’s just like on defense. You’ve got to be able to stop the run.
“So for me, running the ball is important, but I’m not just going to run the ball just to say and make people happy that we ran the ball. That’s not what I do.”
The Bears had 38 yards rushing in their win over the Lions, and have had 148 total yards on the ground in the past three games. Their 38 yards Thursday matched their lowest total in a victory since the second game of the 1970 season.
Still, Nagy will continue looking to the best matchup — even if it means an attack completely based on the pass.
“If it’s running the ball 50 times and that’s the way we’re going to win, I’ll run the ball 50 times,” Nagy said. “If it’s running the ball five times and that’s how we’re going to win, I’ll run the ball five times.”
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest it’s not the most important statistic, anyway. They ran for 134 yards or more in all three losses. They also ran for 122 yards or more in three of their wins.
Bears fans’ angst about the running attack might not be a strategic concern, Nagy suggested.
“So you know I think the biggest thing right now is you get into all this fantasy stuff that everybody’s doing and I think their emotions get a little bit tied up into that,” Nagy said. “I just want to win games. That’s all I really care about.”
The Bears are doing that. They have won five straight and have a weekend off now while the rest of the NFL plays, then return Tuesday to get ready for a Dec. 2 road game against the New York Giants.
Chicago was able to win on Thursday despite having the sluggish run game and playing backup quarterback Chase Daniel for injured Mitchell Trubisky. They might not know Trubisky’s availability for the Giants game due to his right shoulder injury until late next week.
“He’s got to communicate to us how he feels and then we’ll do the same and figure out where it goes on a day-to-day basis,” Nagy said.
Much like with the lack of a running game, the Bears say they’ll adjust if they have Daniel playing again against the Giants. Daniel completed 27 of 37 for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s just like having Mitch in there, it wasn’t a steep loss,” running back Tarik Cohen said. “He gets to the line of scrimmage and makes his calls and then we go from there.”
Nagy said Trubisky may have even learned something about the offense from watching the win over Detroit.
“I asked Mitch at the end of the game how he felt watching it from the sideline,” Nagy said. “His first words to me were, ‘Yeah, it’s different. You see different things and you get it from our perspective as coaches.’
“You get to see what we’re talking about when we talk to you on the sidelines. As long as he steps on the sideline, he gets to see what we’re talking about and then he uses that when he’s back out there to understand that, that will only help him.”
More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL