On the surface it seems obvious, but without the threat of the run Chicago's play action collapses.
The concept of the play-action pass is simple-- make the defense think you're running the ball, then make them pay with a pass. It's a play that's easier called than executed, and Bears' offensive coordinator Mike Tice understands that.
Starting with Matt Forte, the Bears have the ideal foil for their play-action pass. Averaging 4.7 yards per carry, he's a player who needs to be accounted for, especially on first and second down. It's these runs that keep a defense in the box, which becomes prime territory for Jay Cutler to work.
Thus far he has worked. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Cutler is completing 65.4% of his passes on play-action, and averaging over 10 yard per completion. Both are marked improvements, and make his life much easier. Something that isn't lost on Tice, who speaking to the media today said:
"When you go play-action, you get an opportunity to make them start and restart. When you do that, you can get some of those big shots down the field."
It's a proven formula. If your offense has a running back who teams respect, and a quarterback who can accurately sell and throw the play-action, good things happen. Given Chicago's 4-1 record it's working, and considering Mike Tice's understanding of what the Bears need to do, it looks like it will keep paying dividends in 2012.