The Chicago Bears offense needs to build on their run-first identity
For the first time since their week five Thursday night win over the Washington Commanders, the Chicago Bears' backfield is at full health. With both Justin Fields and Khalil Herbert coming back from injury reserve, Sunday's matchup is expected to feature all three of the Bears' leading rushers from a year ago, including David Montgomery, who signed with the Lions over the offseason.
Led in 2022 by Fields, Herbert, and Montgomery, the Bears finished with the most lethal rushing attack in the NFL in terms of total yards, with Fields himself doing a lot of the heavy lifting to the tune of 1,143 yards, the second most ever by a quarterback.
This year, the Bears have tweaked their rushing philosophies, primarily by limiting quarterback rushing opportunities compared to a year ago. With Fields returning from injury, it is unlikely that the quarterback will suddenly return to his 2022 rushing dominance against the Lions, but still, the offensive game plan should feature the team's rushing attack and more specifically, D'Onta Foreman.
Since Herbert's injury in D.C., Foreman has manned the team's lead back role and has done so extremely well. In five games without Herbert, Foreman logged over 80 rushing yards thrice, including during both of the team's wins against the Raiders and the Panthers. With Herbert returning, it is unclear which back will play on what downs and situations, but if the Bears can find the same amount of success on the ground with a fully healthy unit, it would go a long way in upsetting the Lions.
Unfortunately, Detroit presents one of the league's best-rushing defenses, allowing just under 80 yards per game on the ground (the Lions join the Bears and the Philadelphia Eagles as the only three defenses to hold such a mark through 10 weeks). Sunday's matchup presents a great opportunity for a now fully healthy Bears offensive line to dictate a game versus a strong Detroit unit.
With Braxton Jones and Nate Davis set to return to the starting five, the Bears offensive line is finally shaping into form, although this week was headlined by a somewhat surprising benching of veteran center Cody Whitehair, who had previously started in all 117 career games that he was available for.
Whatever configuration the offensive line starts or finishes the game with, key players such asDarnell Wright and Teven Jenkins will be tasked with creating good rushing lanes against one of the league's premier rush defenses.
In recent weeks, the offensive line has shown massive steps of improvement, especially from the rookie right tackle, who has played lights out as of late. Blocking standout edge Aidan Hutchinson will have its ups and downs, especially when Fields has to drop back, but running the ball behind Wright and a healthy offensive front is paramount for the Bears to establish control against the Lions.