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Charting a Course for Bears Future

The offense's sudden rise in overall rushing has set down their identity, and next will be expanding their capabilities through free agency or the draft.

Rebuilding an NFL team virtually from scrap as the Bears have done is a gradual process.

It occurs without well-defined layers, at least until a season ends and free agency begins.

As a result, during the first season it's never going to look as good as it will in the future if everything is done properly. It might not even look close to the finished product at times.

"I just think it's a process," Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. "The guys getting to know each other, the players getting to know the offense as we put it in, and then just knowing the players.

"It's a combination of both. And then us figuring out the skill sets of the players. That being the quarterback or the runners or the receivers that we have. I think it's just a combination of time on the job."

The Bears didn't start out trying to run an offense that could not only lead the league in rushing but also approach historical numbers. It simply happened as a result of adjusting to what they saw in their personnel.

"And then a really good job by the coaches and the players figuring it out to move the ball down the field, to be more productive, to create situations and have a chance to win the game," Eberflus said. "And it's been good."

It's been so good since Week 5 that words like prodigious and dominant come to mind. They've averaged 246 yards on the ground in the last five weeks, becoming the first team in NFL history with 225 yards or more rushing five straight games. Three of those weeks were before Justin Fields even became a breakaway threat who routinely took runs 60 yards or longer.

If the Bears continue at their current rate, they would set an NFL rushing record with 3,429 yards and would break the record by more than 100 yards.

It's not necessarily what a team is setting out to do in a league so dominated by the pass but it wouldn't be the first time a team built its running game to a high level before turning its attention to the rest of the offense.

Philadelphia led the NFL in rushing yards and was second in attempts last year before expanding its offense this year under coordinator Shane Steichen to start the season with an 8-1 record.

Philadelphia last year essentially did exactly what the Bears have been doing. The Eagles were 25th in passing and were last in the number of pass attempts. They relied on that No. 1 running game.

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The Bears are last in pass attempts now and first in rushing. They're trying to pass more and with seven games left it won't be surprising if they eventually wind up with a passing yardage or attempts total somewhat similar to what the Eagles had last year, which was 25th in the league.

It's easy to point at the Eagles receiver corps now and say they have better receivers so the Bears couldn't do this, or look at their offensive line and say they have better linemen.

It is true on both counts, but the Eagles also didn't have $116.4 million available to spend in free agency the way the Bears will have before next free agency. In fact, the Eagles were only 23rd in free agency spending this year.

So for the Bears, the view on the horizon will continue to change with each week right on into next season as players come in and out of the offense.

Where would the Bears be now if they had decided from the very start to run their attack more like they are now, instead of after the frustration loss at home to Washington that came up a few inches short of the winning points?

It's impossible to tell and irrelevant because it didn't happen.

This is where the Bears are now and their course has been charted for the future during these past five weeks of setting rushing records.

The possibilities are ahead of them, and it's easy to see they could become at least as strong within a short period as the Eagles have this year.

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Week 10 BearDigest Prediction: Bears 30, Falcons 28

BearDigest 2022 Record: 7-3 (ATS 4-6).

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