Is Chicago Bears offense too predictable?

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Jordan Howard
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 22: Jordan Howard /

The Chicago Bears have limited their playbook for rookie Mitchell Trubisky. Have they taken away too much, and do they need to try to open it up more?

The Chicago Bears are a run-first football team. Every fan should know this by now. So should every defense. The Bears frequently tried to establish a ground game with Mike Glennon. However, since rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has been thrust in the offense, they have essentially gone from a run-first team to a run-only team. The Bears defense has been keeping them in games since Trubisky came in, but at some point, the offense is going to have to pay them back. Would a more open mind in terms of play calling give this unit a chance?

Thanks to Warren Sharp of, the information as to how predictable the Bears can be is easily accessible. The Bears are downright predictable. It is affecting this team on first down. On first and ten, the Bears ran the ball 57% of the time and threw 43% with Mike Glennon. Since Trubisky has taken over, the Bears have run the ball 80% of the time in that situation. Over that span, the next closest team is Dallas, who runs the ball 66% of the time. League average is 54%. It has led them to have a 44% success rate on first down. League average is 49%. This means that more than most teams, and more often than not, the Bears are set up with second and eight or longer.

While the play calling is predictable, the way in which they are doing it is also very predictable. 42% of the time on first down this team has at least two tight ends on the field. Only Washington, Baltimore, and Jacksonville run that personnel more. 14% of the time they have three tight ends on the field, only Tennessee uses that formation more. Only Carolina and Tennessee hand the ball off in 13 personnel more than Chicago. 47% of the Bears rushing attempts on first down come from these personnel groupings.

What is even more interesting to note is that teams have already noticed and made adjustments. They are selling out on the run. The Bears are successful on 50% of their first down pass attempts, but just 41% of their rushing attempts. This seems crazy considering the talent disparity of Jordan Howard and the power running game compared to this passing attack. It is clear that teams are not respecting the pass, and using strength in numbers to dominate the run. This has set up easier situations to pick up yards passing the ball.

Since Trubisky has taken over, the offense has actually been more efficient overall compared to Glennon. However, they are still below average when rushing the ball on first down, while being an above average offense passing the ball on first down with their rookie quarterback. The pass is a play called two out of every ten snaps, so it likely catches the defense off-guard, but it has been their most successful first down play call through seven weeks and has been even more efficient since Trubisky has taken over.

While their passing success with Trubisky comes over just 13 attempts, it should be something the Bears consider looking into moving forward. Facing so many second and longs has also led to longer third down situations. This is why only three teams have been less efficient running the football on third down.

Next: What does Dontrelle Inman bring?

Essentially, the Bears being so predictable in running the football on first down is setting them up to fail to pick up first downs in short yardage situations on third down, which they have also predictably run the ball in. The Bears need to show some signs of balance to get this offense off of the ground. They already admitted to their talent issue at wide receiver and made a trade for Dontrelle Inman. Now, it is time look in the mirror and understand that the play calling is hurting just as much, and make that adjustment with the slight boost in talent.