Fixing the running game was supposed to save the Bears. They did that and still lost. Now what?


Matt Nagy was hell-bent on showing Chicago that he wasn’t an idiot. 

After running the ball only seven times in Week 7’s blowout loss to the Saints, the Bears’ coach came into Sunday’s game against Los Angeles clearly looking to prove that he was capable of putting together a more balanced, winning scheme. Nagy stayed true to his word, rushing the ball 38 times against the Chargers – but for the third straight week, the winning will have to wait. 

“Our run game, today, they stepped up,” Nagy said after the 17-16 loss. 

“We ran the ball well today. We did. I think you’d all agree that from what you all have seen the last six weeks of the year – we were better.” 

It was – however uninterested Bears’ fans may be in hearing it – the team’s best running performance of the season. 162 of the offense's 388 total net yards came on the ground – it’s how they got 12 of their 16 first downs, too. Rookie running back David Montgomery went over 100 yards for the first time in his NFL career, finishing with 135 on 27 rushes (5.0 average). He would also score the Bears’ only touchdown of the game on a four-yard run in the third quarter.

“Our guys blocked well, and 32, you guys saw, he ran hard,” Nagy said. “He runs hard. He's a hard runner. Then when we had an opportunity to take some shots downfield, we made the most of it. Our guys made some plays and turnovers got us.”

“He had a heck of a game,” Allen Robinson said. “I’ve been saying all the time, when that dude gets the ball, he gets in space, he’s going to make plays. He’s a playmaker. It was fun to see him go today. He has that capability each and every week."

The highlight of Montgomery’s day, a 55-yard gain in the 3rd quarter, was the first 50+ yard run for a Bears running back since Jordan Howard got 53 against the Ravens in Week 6 of 2017. 

“The game was just going the way of rushing,” Montgomery said. “That was the flavor of the day today. It was working, we just came up short.” 

“It always helps having that balance as an offense,” Mitch Trubisky said. “We're moving the ball, staying on the field, staying in 3rd and manageable. It definitely helps, and it opened up a lot of things in the pass game. I know it helps our linemen because they did a great job creating those holes all game, and it gives them confidence running the ball and in the pass game.” 

While there’s certainly optimism about the improved run game, it can hardly hold its weight against the half-dozen other issues currently sinking the Bears. After the Saints loss, Nagy spent a good bit of time getting hounded about his choices. The company line at Halas Hall all week was about getting Montgomery and Tarik Cohen involved, and how that was supposed to be the key to reopening Club Dub. On the surface, Sunday’s effort represents a promised fulfilled.  

And yet on Sunday afternoon, the Bears still found themselves in the same place they’ve been all month: watching the glow of a once-promising season grow dimmer by the week. 

“Well, you have to figure out really where you're at with your leaders,” Nagy said. “And then throughout the week -- you don't change much. You understand that there's some things that you've got to change schematically, I think. That's where there might be some minor changes here or there.

“This is just all about motivation. This is all about people caring, and this is all about us in tough times relying on one another.”

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