In the aftermath, coach Matt Nagy was able to give a partial diagnosis of the team’s woes.
“I know we ended up throwing a lot more than running,” said Nagy, “and, for whatever reason we did, that’s not what we want.”
Mitchell Trubisky dropped back to pass 50 times throughout the game, attempting 45 passes and getting sacked five times. Between four players lining up at running back, the Bears attempted only 15 running plays.
“I think when this offense is at its best, it’s a balanced attack with the run game and the pass game,” said Trubisky, “and we just didn’t do a good enough job to get in a rhythm, and we had to lean more on the pass, which made it easier on the defense because they know it’s coming.”
While no one mentioned perfect parity between the running game and passing game, the Bears threw the ball roughly three times as often as they ran it. This imbalance is primarily due to a pass-heavy second half when passing plays outnumbered running plays nearly eight to one, which is unusual for a game where the Bears never trailed by more than a touchdown.
David Montgomery, the first player selected by the Bears in the NFL Draft last spring, finished with 18 rushing yards on six carries. His most notable play, a 27-yard seam route in the third quarter, put the Bears well into Packers territory before a delay of game penalty forced the Bears in third-, then fourth-and-10.
Montgomery earned Nagy’s praise after his only appearance in the preseason, raising expectations for the rookie. However, Montgomery came into the game with an open mind about his usage.
“I wasn’t really expecting anything,” said Montgomery. “Whatever happened for me, whenever my name was called, I’d be sure that I was ready for the task and opportunity at hand.”
Montgomery was one of three running backs that took the field in the T formation for the first play of the game. The other two found carries just as sparse.
Mike Davis, an offseason acquisition who impressed in a short sample in Seattle last season, finished the night with five carries for 19 yards and six catches for 17 yards.
Tarik Cohen bobbled the pitch on the first offensive play of the game. However, the play was negated by a defensive holding penalty, and Cohen finished the game with zero carries. His impact was limited to catching the ball out of the backfield, which he did eight times for 49 yards.
There’s reason to believe the framing that Thursday night was a one-off. The team’s 46 yards on the ground is the second-lowest output in Nagy’s tenure. Outside of a 38-yard effort in a 23-16 win against the Lions in November, the Bears averaged 126.6 rushing yards a game last season.
For Trubisky, the potential of that running attack is both cause for optimism and frustration.
“We’ve got three great running backs,” said Trubisky. “We definitely need to get them going and get the ball in their hands, and we’ve just got a bunch of playmakers, and it’s frustrating when we have all these playmakers, and you just feel like you left a lot of plays out there with not getting the ball in these guys’ hands.”