CHICAGO — Over a long weekend, the Bears had time to contemplate where in the world their running game went in the season-opening loss to the Packers before returning to practice Monday at Halas Hall.
While no one has offered up a clear explanation for what happened in the 10-3 loss — a one-score game the whole way — coach Matt Nagy is the one who holds the play-call sheet and makes the decisions.
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky attempted 45 passes, the third-highest total in his 27 career starts and dropped back to pass on 52 snaps. He was sacked five times and scrambled twice, running once on a busted play that was designed as a shovel pass to tight end Ben Braunecker. It created an unbalanced offense as he handed the ball off 12 times — only seven coming after the first two possessions.
The predictable pass-heavy attack made it easier for the Packers to guess what was coming and Trubisky struggled. He completed 25 of 46 passes for 228 yards, averaging 4.96 yards per attempt — and 3.94 yards on passes not intended for Allen Robinson. The Bears continued to throw against a Packers defense that used only one inside linebacker, Blake Martinez, for the entire game as 5-foot-11, 197-pound safety Raven Greene played a hybrid role. So Trubisky was throwing against sub personnel all night.
"It's one-dimensional," Nagy said Friday. "Even with it being a 7-3 game, I knew that. I was aware of that. But we'll figure this thing out. We'll get it right."
The Bears opened in an unusual personnel package with three running backs — Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Mike Davis — along with two tight ends. The Packers countered with their nickel package, substituting size for speed and athleticism. Cohen fumbled the pitch and the Bears were fortunate that Packers nose tackle Kenny Clark was called for holding. There was a clear alley to the left had Cohen not mishandled the ball.
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"If we hold on to that ball, that might be down the sideline for 40 yards," Nagy said. "It was blocked up like a gem."
Cohen didn't get a handoff the rest of the game. The carries went to Montgomery (6), Davis (5) and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson (1) on a third-and-1 dive play that was blown up by Clark. Montgomery did catch a 27-yard pass down the seam, tying for the longest gain of the night for the offense.
"Between him, Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen, those three guys, they're all special when they have the football in their hands," Nagy said Monday. "I recognize that, I realize that."
None of the eight quarterbacks with the most pass attempts won in Week 1. The Bengals' Andy Dalton, the Redskins' Case Keenum and Trubisky were the only ones involved in games that were within 10 points entering the fourth quarter. Here's a look.
- Kyler Murray, Cardinals: 54 pass attempts, trailed 17-6 entering the fourth quarter, tied.
- Andy Dalton, Bengals: 51 pass attempts, led 17-14 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
- Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers: 47 pass attempts, trailed 30-3 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
- Matt Ryan, Falcons: 46 pass attempts, trailed 28-0 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
- Matthew Stafford, Lions: 45 pass attempts, led 17-6 entering the fourth quarter, tied.
- Mitch Trubisky, Bears: 45 pass attempts, trailed 7-3 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
- Case Keenum, Redskins: 44 pass attempts, trailed 21-20 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
- Eli Manning, Giants: 44 pass attempts, trailed 35-10 entering the fourth quarter, lost.
The outlier is Stafford as the Lions led the Cardinals by 11, but the Lions' running game has been either inconsistent or nonexistent in the two decades since Barry Sanders retired.