Don’t Expect Marion Barber to Save the Bears Running Game


It looks like Marion Barber will make his Bears regular season debut against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday (Photo: Chicago Tribune)

Marion Barber practiced for the second straight day on Thursday, meaning he’s a step closer to make his regular season Bears debut on Sunday.  It’s no secret that the Bears running game has struggled to the tune of the second lowest rushing total in the league with a meager 161 yards on just 51 attempts through 3 games.  It begs the question – can Marion Barber save the Bears running game?  I hate to be a glass half empty kind of guy, but I’m not counting on it.  Check out my reasons why after the jump.

It Takes Commitment

A big problem with the running game has been a lack of commitment.  Just ask Mike Martz.  If you really want to turn this running game around, you’ve got to try to rush more than 17 times a game, which is the Bears’ average, a number which is skewed by 27 attempts in Week 1.  I doubt that the handful of plays when Barber comes in to give Forte a breather will really up the carries.

It’s Still a Line Problem

Marion Barber won’t help Chris Williams successfully execute the trap block or get him around the corner any quicker.  Marion Barber won’t help Frank Omiyale seal the corner or remember the snap count for that matter.  I don’t care if you get Walter Payton and Gale Sayers in the Bears backfield, running behind this line, you’ve got problems.

Wearing Down

People like Barber for his explosive running style.  He brings it every single time he runs the ball.  Six years of that punishing style have caught up with Barber and he’s just an average runner at best any more.  Last season, he averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, down nearly a full yard off his career average.   And that was behind a more formidable Cowboys line.   Don’t forget, the Cowboys let him go for a reason.  How has that Roy Williams pickup worked out so far?

Too soon?

Coming off a calf injury that’s sidelined him a month, do you really think Barber will be able to carry the Bears from zeros to heroes overnight?  Me neither.  With a shortened offseason and limited work toward the end of preseason, Barber will need time to get into a groove.  Even if down the road he could be the thunder to Forte’s lightning, it’s not going to be immediate.

In Closing

Don’t look for the Bears to suddenly go from the 5/1 pass/run ratio to a 50/50 ratio just because Barber hits the field.   Barber could be a valuable addition to the Bears’ offense, especially down in the red zone, and to spell Forte.  Look for a few big pad-popping runs and maybe a touchdown, but the Bears will still go as far as Jay Cutler’s arm will take them.

Do you think Barber can suddenly turn around the ground game?  What are some unexpected benefits Barber could bring to the offense?  Let me know your thoughts in the Comments section.

BEAR DOWN!!!

 

  • sqlpope

    Mad MIke seems to call too many dancing plays or delayed handoffs when he does call a run, getting Forte caught behind the line. Being Martz, he may still call a few for Barber to throw people off, but I expect (hope) he’ll focus more on the downhill run with Barber in. Linemen like to slam ahead. The fancy runs are more difficult for them to make work. With any luck, the moderate success of a few Barber down-your-throat runs will bleed over into the early down calls for Forte. So, I think there’s a decent chance his presence will turn around the run game, less for his overall production, than his effect on Martz’s playcalling.

  • sqlpope

    Mad MIke seems to call too many dancing plays or delayed handoffs when he does call a run, getting Forte caught behind the line. Being Martz, he may still call a few for Barber to throw people off, but I expect (hope) he’ll focus more on the downhill run with Barber in. Linemen like to slam ahead. The fancy runs are more difficult for them to make work. With any luck, the moderate success of a few Barber down-your-throat runs will bleed over into the early down calls for Forte. So, I think there’s a decent chance his presence will turn around the run game, less for his overall production, than his effect on Martz’s playcalling.

  • BearGogglesOn

    Good insight pope. Matt Bowen wrote an interesting post for NFPost about how to fix the Bears offense and he discussed this, but even saying it would benefit Forte:

    “1. Change the run game: Martz wants to use his O-Line to pull on the Stretch G (front-side guard pull strong), the Counter OF (front-side guard pull weak), etc. Why not get back to basics, run the Lead Open, Lead Strong or the quick inside trap out of the one-back look? Matt Forte can hit the hole, get up field and produce. Win up front, put a body on the linebackers and play some physical football. Quick, downhill plays.”

    Check out the whole article here: http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Trying-to-fix-the-Bears-offense.html&team=111

    I think you’re both right. Get Forte and/or Barber running downhill quick. I just don’t know if a tiger (Martz) can change his stripes and actually do what we all seem to know – run the damn ball!

  • BearGogglesOn

    Good insight pope. Matt Bowen wrote an interesting post for NFPost about how to fix the Bears offense and he discussed this, but even saying it would benefit Forte:

    “1. Change the run game: Martz wants to use his O-Line to pull on the Stretch G (front-side guard pull strong), the Counter OF (front-side guard pull weak), etc. Why not get back to basics, run the Lead Open, Lead Strong or the quick inside trap out of the one-back look? Matt Forte can hit the hole, get up field and produce. Win up front, put a body on the linebackers and play some physical football. Quick, downhill plays.”

    Check out the whole article here: http://www.nationalfootballpost.com/Trying-to-fix-the-Bears-offense.html&team=111

    I think you’re both right. Get Forte and/or Barber running downhill quick. I just don’t know if a tiger (Martz) can change his stripes and actually do what we all seem to know – run the damn ball!

  • QuinnJaquillard

    On the flip side… I don’t see getting Barber back into the mix as hurting the ground game! We have to have some kind of bright side to look at given the past few weeks!

  • QuinnJaquillard

    On the flip side… I don’t see getting Barber back into the mix as hurting the ground game! We have to have some kind of bright side to look at given the past few weeks!

  • flowermike

    Boom, and this may read rhetorical…. redundant at least…….

    No offensive play will work without blocking. Sweetness himself could not revive this running game without line play.

  • flowermike

    Boom, and this may read rhetorical…. redundant at least…….

    No offensive play will work without blocking. Sweetness himself could not revive this running game without line play.