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Bears Calling Card Looks Like It Usually Does

When the Bears have succeeded in the past they've been a strong running team with tough defense and a gritty quarterback, and it appears they have these qualities again, even if Matt Nagy would like them to be more of an air show.

The Bears keep talking about the identity they want to find for their offense.

They hit the jackpot Sunday in a place where people usually go to do this. Viva Las Vegas, the Bears have an offensive identity.

It surfaced the previous week in a 24-14 win over Detroit, but really came to the forefront in Sunday's 20-9 triumph over Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders.

Sorry Matt Nagy, it's not the identity you wanted and he realizes it. This is not the Kansas City Chiefs' high-flying offense he had with Andy Reid and he tried to fashion with Mitchell Trubisky first, and then with Andy Dalton.

"It feels good," Nagy said, sounding as though he'd really convinced himself. "It feels good to have that. And now what we've got to do is as we go through this identity and figure out where we're at, is now be able to grow with that, right?

"Because teams start to see who you are and they're going to have counter ways to come back and counter you and counterattack you and I think that for us we've got to counter that. We always talk about you've got to keep them chasing the cat's tail. So I think that’s important."

So after the win, Nagy was already pushing the envelope on expanding the attack because running it just doesn't suit him. Fortunately, Bill Lazor is calling the plays.

The Bears ran it 37 times and passed it 21 times on Sunday, usually a victorious mix in the NFL even though pass-happy boogers and fantasy football types don't like admitting it. If you're running it 37 times and not winning, they you've got real problems.

The Raiders never really did stop the run. The Bears are running without injured David Montgomery and with him. Jason Peters is blocking the run like he's 10 years younger, or maybe 20 years younger.

They averaged only 3.9 yards per attempt but as Bill Belichick often points out, it's the rushing attempts that count. And the 3.9 yards was only so low because Justin Fields ran for only 4 yards on three tries.

Nagy is not wrong in thinking they need to come up with a counter punch.

Teams don't usually win in the NFL if all they can do is run it, Baltimore's success with Lamar Jackson aside. It's always been that way. Walter Payton couldn't win in Chicago until Jim McMahon could throw to Willie Gault and Dennis McKinnon.

Fields throwing for only 111 yards isn't usually enough for most teams, but part of the Bears identity is a defense that really does look like it did in 2018 under Vic Fangio.

His disciple, Sean Desai, has the Bears in a state where they could even stop the Raiders running game at 71 yards without Akiem Hicks on the field. Imagine if he gets healthy.

"Yeah it sucks having Akiem out but it's next man up and there's a lot of good guys in that room, that defensive line room, rotating those guys in and out," said linebacker Roquan Smith, who had a key pass defended for the second straight game and 10 more tackles So I tip my hat off to those guys."

In this one, no one could point the finger of blame at the defensive secondary like in Los Angeles. The secondary has rounded into shape over the last few games, with DeAndre Houston-Carson coming up with an interception Sunday and the pass rush working with the coverage.

"Coming in on the road and getting a win like this against a team like the Raiders, it's tough," safety Eddie Jackson said. "It's tough.

"We came out, we fought. We knew it was gonna be a fight because Nagy said. Things aren't just gonna go good all the time. We're gonna have our ups and downs. We just had to continue to fight and we rallied together, blocked out all the noise and came out with a win."

Until Fields' passing repertoire is expanded, this is the Chicago Bears identity.

They're a gritty team that can run the ball and defend.

It's a lot like the Bears have been when they've enjoyed success in the past, but applying this formula can only work so often and against the right opponents.

The next opponent has a quarterback who has proven repeatedly it takes more than a gritty team to beat him.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven