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Bears Offense Needs To Keep Them Guessing

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Jay Cutler's return to the Bears starting line-up Sunday will surely be a welcome one. But the Bears had another joyful reunion last week, when their running game showed up unexpectedly against the Carolina Panthers. And as much as I love to see Jay connect 25 yards downfield to Johnny Knox, it's a relief to know Matt Forte can still break off a long run. Because from this point forward? We're going to need to be an offense that can do both.

For years now, the NFL has been a showcase for the aerial attack. Both the rulebook and the playing surface, (in most instances) have been modified to favor mobile quarterbacks and speedy receivers connecting for long completions. And most consistently successful teams in recent seasons, have featured offenses that can put up big numbers. That's one reason the Bears traded for Cutler, and it may be the ONLY reason to employ Mike Martz.

But do big passing games necessarily translate to wins? Not this season, not so far. Over the last 5 weeks, the top 5 passing teams in each week are a combined 6-19. In fact, every team that finished with the most passing yards in a given week, lost their game. In week 3, ALL of the top 5 passing teams (Denver, San Diego, NY Giants, Detroit, and Miami) were losers.

Conversely, the teams that had the top 5 rushing performances, have a combined record of 18-6. That's only 24 games, because in week 4 the Jets' LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene were both in the top 5, together gaining 250 yards on the Bills (who the Bears will meet in Toronto on Nov.7).

Does that mean that it's better to run the ball, then it is to pass? Not really. What it suggests is that it's better to do both well

Teams that can't run the ball but pass well, tend to have gaudy yardage numbers, but lower times of possession. And most of the time, allowing your opponents' offense more time on the field, translates to allowing them more points on the board.

But teams that can only run the ball, as Bears fans well know, means seeing a lot of 7 and 8 man fronts. Which can make for a very long day. Being able to mix it up is just about a sure-fire recipe for success.

The question is, can the Bears run against Seattle, the way they did against the lowly Panthers? After all, the Seahawks have the #2 rushing defense in the NFL.

But who have the Seahawks played? After 4 games and a bye week , they've beaten the winless 49ers, and a San Diego team that seems to have completely lost it's way since giving up Tomlinson. And they've lost to pass-happy Denver and St. Louis.

I don't think their run defense has been challenged yet,this year. For the Bears, this is a perfect week to give them a real test. With an O-line that's again in transition and a quarterback coming back from injury, this is a good week for the Bears to rely heavier on the run. Keep them honest, with lots of play-action, and let Forte and Chester Taylor take their shots.