Offensive Approach Among Biggest Bears 2021 Decisions

Should they keep the under-center emphasis and the personnel attached to it, or try to be the shotgun style of attack they used during less successful weeks while retaining different personnel?
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Besides the Allen Robinson tag or free agency decision facing the Bears, perhaps the biggest choice they'll make is how to proceed with their offense in terms of personnel, blocking and overall alignment.

It doesn't quite pack the wallop of whether to extend Mitchell Trubisky's contract but actually can impact that decision while being of more overall signficance.

After increasing the number of under-center plays over shotgun plays in the final six games with Trubisky at quarterback, the Bears enjoyed far greater success running than during Games 4-10. It let them establish the run, keep defenses off balance and they went on a stretch of 30 points or more over four straight games. They ran for 144.3 yards a game then, after averaging 52.6 yards from Game 4 through Game 10.

This not only ended their six-game slide but let them get back in the hunt on the way to a playoff berth as seventh seed in the NFC.

While doing this, they still only lined up under center 36% of their snaps on the year according to league numbers compiled by sharpfootballstats.com. This was 15th most snaps under center in the league.

Are they going forward with this approach and expanding the number of snaps under center?

The personnel decisions they made included Sam Mustipher at center, Cody Whitehair moving to left guard, Alex Bars at right guard and Germain Ifedi at right tackle.

With James Daniels returning from injury next year at one guard, Ifedi a free agent and some salary cap decision possibly upcoming on regular right tackle Bobby Massie, the Bears need to make quick decisions about the future of this offensive approach to know what to do with their line.

This, in turn, could impact whether they really do want to bring Trubisky back another year. If they're not going to emphasize this approach again, there's not point in bringing back Trubisky at all because he's proven he isn't effective as a shotgun/pocket passer in the mold of Nick Foles.

While it would seem like a no-brainer decision to stick with the approach and retain Trubisky or sign another quarterback capable of running this style offense, their accomplishment did come with an asterisk attached.

Virtually all of the teams they played in the final six games of the regular season experienced trouble stopping the run against any team, let alone the Bears and their different style of offense.

When the Bears finally ran up against some stiffer competition in the playoffs and in the regular-season finale with Green Bay, the daylight materialized at a far lower rate or not at all. They only had 48 yards rushing against the Saints in the playoff game loss. They had 108 yards against the Packers in a loss to close the regular season.

Now, the Bears did use Trubisky a lot under center when he was quarterback in the first three games of the season and they averaged 144 yards rushing for those three games. However, the end result wasn't quite the clear-cut success they had later, even if the three opponents were weaklings on defense. They beat Detroit, the Giants and Atlanta. Both the Lions and Falcons were poor defensively while the Giants eventually had a stronger defense but at that point in the year were struggling.

"I think, you'd probably be surprised at how little in the calls has changed," offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said about the offensive design changes since the early season. "You know, some of what happened early in the year was unique to Mitch and his abilities and some of what happened early in the year was part of strategically how we game-planned.

"So I think we have the kind of offense that can make changes like that when necessary. I think we've shown that throughout the year as far as how much we run, how much we pass, how much we are in the shotgun, how much we're under center, how much we move the pocket, how much we throw quick, try to throw deep, those changes can be made pretty seamlessly in my mind."

If they can only achieve rushing yardage using this approach when playing against weak teams, what's the point of doing it to start next season? 

They need to be effective no matter who they play.  

Or perhaps they'll just flip between styles of attack depending on the opponent.

This, too, would require bringing back Trubisky because Foles isn't able to flip styles with the same ease. He's not as mobile.

It's all going to be hashed out when coaches begin doing analysis and film review of their season. 

The end result will be interesting, but might not be evident to Bears fans until next regular season begins.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven