Six-time Pro Bowl center Olin Kreutz says it's no great mystery why the Bears are last in the NFL in average gain per run and third from the bottom in rushing yards.
A glance at the videotape is all it takes.
"We're getting our asses kicked," Kreutz said. "Week after week, we're not running the ball well. That's about what's happening. We're just not very good at running the ball right now."
Former Bears offensive coordinator John Shoop was fond of saying, "It takes a village to run the football." If so, the Bears have a lot of natives who aren't getting the job done, from running back Cedric Benson to every member of the offensive line.
"The way to improve it is for everybody to work on it," Kreutz said. "But we've been saying that for a long time now. So what do we have to do? If we knew, we would have done it. We're working hard at it. It's not showing in games right now. So we're pretty bad at running the ball, and we recognize that. We're embarrassed by it, and we're trying hard to get it fixed."
As bad as the Bears have been in averaging 78.8 rushing yards per game, Kreutz said he has seen it worse in his 10 years.
"We've had some bad offenses around here," he said. "This isn't the worst it's been, but this is pretty bad."
In 2002, Anthony Thomas led the Bears with just 721 rushing yards while averaging 3.4 yards per carry. Benson's on pace for 963 yards but has averaged only 3.0 yards per attempt.
"If that's something they feel like they should do, I'm sure they're going to do it," Benson said. "It's not really my area to worry."
Benson has enough to worry about trying to collaborate with his offensive line and figure out why the Bears are the only NFL team without a 20-yard run this season. His longest gain this year is 16 yards.
"We're all part of that unit," Benson said. "The run game's not going to work with just one guy. It's going to take all of us, and we've been over different things and stuff that we feel could help improve it. The bottom line is we've just got to get better."
An occasional big play would help in that regard. Benson had a career-high 28 carries last week, but his longest gain was nine yards.
RB Cedric Benson
Jose Sanchez/AP Images
"The biggest thing is we're not getting big plays," offensive coordinator Ron Turner said. "If you're going to average 4.5 five yards a carry, you've got to get some big plays. Any team that averages that in the running game, they don't get that much every run. You get two yards, one, five, four and then you get 30. That's what we're not getting."
Benson has heard the criticism just about every week since he posted his only 100-yard rushing game of the season in Week 2 against the Chiefs. He had 101 yards on 24 carries for a 4.2-yard average nine weeks ago, the only game all season in which he's averaged more than 3.8 per carry. Rather than dwelling on past failures he's trying to look to the future, which he is convinced will bring better production.
"It's only difficult and frustrating when you think about it more than you should," Benson said. "It's going to come. It's going to crack. I don't know how to explain it or what better way to put it. All I can do is show you."
Bears fans are waiting.
News & Notes
- Comparing Urlacher to Butkus and Singletary
- "New" Soldier Field vs. "Old" Soldier Field
- Reliving the 61-7 win over Green Bay in 1980
- An excerpt from Cindi Dammann's Tailgating Tales
- Getting to know LB Jamar Williams
All of that plus much more in the latest issue of ...
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