Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.
It seems like Mitchell Trubisky ran with the ball a lot more last season and that his ability to do so really helped the offense. Why isn't he running as much this year?
Mitchell Trubisky did run the ball more last season; he rushed for 421 yards and three touchdowns on 68 carries in his 14 starts, an average of 30 yards per game. In five starts this season, Trubisky has rushed for only 21 yards on five attempts. Here's how the Bears quarterback explained not running as much this year: "I think teams have been doing a good job taking it away. I'm trying to be a pass-first guy, running when it's open, and it hasn't been there. Just keep looking for it but doing my job as a passer first." Coach Matt Nagy weighed in Thursday, saying: "Here's what I'll say to his scrambling: It's not happening as much. Some of that might be because teams see on tape what he was doing last year and now they might want to bracket him or keep him in or spy him. Some of that is because of the defense and then some might just be because he's not doing it. And I think that is a weapon that we have in his arsenal, in our arsenal as an offense. I try not to over-coach that and say look to run because when you do that you miss a progression. Instinctually, if a progression isn't there or a play isn't there that we thought was going to be there, that's where you see a little bit more scrambling and ad-libbing, and that hasn't been happening this year."
Why wasn't Roquan Smith on the field as much against the Saints as he has been in previous games? Was it related to whatever personal issue he has been dealing with?
Elk Grove, California
The personal issue that caused linebacker Roquan Smith to miss the Vikings game Sept. 29 at Soldier Field has not been disclosed, so we have really no way of knowing whether that has affected him in any way. I can tell you that Smith played only 69.2 percent of the defensive snaps (after playing 98.4, 100, 92.2 and 88.9 in his first four starts) because the Bears subbed him out for a fifth defensive back when the Saints went with three receivers, one running back and one tight end. Said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano: "Versus 11 personnel it was something we wanted to use to stamp out the run. We weren't going to play sub and play a four-man front because we struggled against Oakland with the four-man front. So we wanted to present them with a little different look; keep our base front in there and play five DBs. You still match up well in the secondary with the 11 personnel. We executed well in the first half and didn't do so well in the second."
I was wondering why the officials picked up the running-into-the-kicker flag against the Saints last Sunday at Soldier Field. In my view, the play looked identical to the play in London when the Bears were flagged for running into the kicker against the Raiders.
The penalty against the Saints last Sunday did not stand because the New Orleans player, Zach Line, deflected Pat O'Donnell's punt with his fingers. If a defensive player contacts the ball—or the snap touches the ground—a running-into-the-kicker penalty cannot be called. Unfortunately, Kevin Pierre-Louis did not touch the ball in the Bears' previous game when he drew a costly penalty for running into Raiders punter A.J. Cole.