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Ending the One-Sided Bears Approach

It's been all running for the Bears as their passing game is still looking to synch up between receivers and quarterback despite the fact it's seven games into the season.

It's seven games into the season and the Bears are mired with a one-sided offense and a rookie quarterback.

At least they have one side of it working, with the sixth-ranked running attack in the league. If they want to accomplish anything, they'll need to correct the imbalance.

"We've discussed over the years about getting the run game going and that's a big positive for us that we've gotten that going, I think, pretty consistent here throughout the year, the run game," Bears coach Matt Nagy said.

So naturally it would seem they should be able to parlay the run into stronger passing in the form of play-action passing. But they aren't.

"We are happy with the run game but want to get better in the passing game and be more complementary as well," Nagy said.

They talked after drafting Justin Fields about the franchise's first 4,000 yard passing season in an era when most teams do it regularly without batting an eyelash, but to date they haven't had a day with Fields playing when they threw for 200 net yards let alone challenge the 4,000 mark for this year.

Their high for the year was the 188 put up in the opener with Andy Dalton as starting quarterback.

So it's back to the drawing board behind the COVID curtain at Halas Hall as they try to find balance to go with the league's sixth-ranked running game but an offense last in yardage.

This means extra work and Zoom meetings for receivers and Fields as they try to build better timing in the passing attack, particularly with wide receiver Allen Robinson.

"We have solid chemistry," Fields said. "We, of course, need to get better. It's not the best in the country, of course, but we're growing each and every day, so I mean, me him and some other receivers are going to start meeting on Zoom by ourselves and kind of start getting our own thing together."

Yet, it was Robinson who described the passing connection as from perfect on Tuesday when he talked about two of the three interceptions in Sunday's 38-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

"Right now, I think the main thing is we're just trying all to figure out our niches and the scheme of what we're doing and trying to figure out everything like that," Robinson said.

Seven games into a season seems a late time for a No. 1 receiver and quarterback to be synching up within the passing attack but Robinson wasn't part of organized team activities in the offseason as a franchise free agent, and Fields wasn't practicing with first-string receivers much at training camp.

"I mean, that's the plan that we put in place from the very beginning," Nagy said. "That, to me, is something that when we talked about the plan that we had going into this before Andy got hurt, that was the plan that we followed then, to what you're asking about the question of the timing.

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"So now that we're in this situation right now and that Justin is playing is now the timing that he can get or gain with these guys in practice is very important. And so having guys practice and be out there to work on timing is crucial, and our guys have done that."

The Zoom meetings are needed because they are in special league protocol due to the recent outbreak of COVID with the team, which included Nagy and receivers coach Mike Furrey. Otherwise, the players would be meeting together in person.

"I'm telling you, we work extremely hard when trying to get the timing together and the chemistry," wide receiver Darnell Mooney said. "You're dealing with injuries, you're dealing with somebody's hurting so you can't get as much as you want to. But the reps that we do get, they're definitely helping."

Mooney called these extra meetings another way to improve communication. This was obviously lacking on two interceptions thrown Sunday.

"Just to get some chemistry on watching the game together and seeing things of the other opponent, something that we can pick on and maybe audible and get a key on what they're doing in the game," Mooney said. "And then when we get in the game, we see after each other and echo off of that. Or get like a you know, a play where we know what's going on and try to echo off what they're doing. Or try to audible off what they’re doing."

So Fields is encouraged to the point where he suggested they'll break out of this quagmire soon.

"I can feel it," Fields said.

He cited nothing specific or tangible.

"Just feel it. You just have those feelings. You just feel it. It's coming," Fields said.

With a team averaging 14.4 points and 124.4 yards passing a game, this will have to be enough evidence until they actually can try to do it Sunday against San Francisco.

Fields was asked if maybe more play-action or run-pass option plays might help, and if he feels comfortable with such tactics.

"I'd like to score touchdowns," he said. "That's what I want to do, no matter how it's done."

The Bears might be looking for a balanced attack with a synched up passing game, but at this point they'll even take some unbalanced points.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven