Joniak’s Journal: Bears’ Run-Pass Ratio Not Where It Needs To Be

By Jeff Joniak

(CBS) The Bears (0-2) host the Steelers (2-0) on Sunday at noon. Here are my observations leading into the game.

— In a manner of speaking, it’s a “noisy” pocket right now for Bears quarterback Mike Glennon. A loud cry for rookie Mitchell Trubisky to take over at the first sign of trouble is far from a shocker. Many portray this as a cut-and-dry decision, but it’s not. If Glennon throws a touchdown pass in the final seconds of the opener to beat the Falcons, does it change opinion? Maybe, maybe not.

— Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was terrific on his conference call with reporters Wednesday. Grilled on his experiences in his rookie 2004 season, Roethlisberger painted a precise picture of the challenges facing a rookie like Trubisky.

— Pittsburgh’s plan was for Roethlisberger to sit the 2004 season behind starter Tommy Maddox. Instead, he started early on after a Maddox injury, and the Steelers won 13 straight, advancing to the AFC title game before losing to the Patriots. The next season, Roethlisberger’s Steelers beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

— Those Steelers teams were built on defense, finishing first and fourth, respectively, in those seasons, including second and fifth in rushing defense. It took the pressure off Roethlisberger, who threw fewer than 300 passes in each of his first two seasons.

— Roethlisberger said he took what the defense gave him early in his career and didn’t try to do too much, because he didn’t want to put his team in a bad situation. He trusted his film study, his coaches and the work he put in each week. He wanted to play, but he didn’t want to be just “thrown in there” and not be ready to go. He didn’t want to look bad or let his teammates down, wanting to know exactly what he was doing.

— A rush to judgement on anointing the next great quarterback aggravates Roethlisberger, who said that in their second and third years, quarterbacks are still seeing looks that make them play like a rookie. It takes time.

— Through two weeks, the Bears’ 29-to-71 run/pass ratio isn’t where it needs to be for a variety of reasons, and it doesn’t fit the stated plan for the offense. Defenses will challenge Glennon to beat them deep and load up to stop the run. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains admits the Bears losing on first down. A year ago, the Bears rushed for 5.3 yards per carry on first down. Right now, they’re 27th in the league  in that regard, earning just 2.9 yards per carry.

— A return of receiver Markus Wheaton (pinkie) could open up the passing game. He caught touchdowns of 69 and 72 yards in 2015 with the Steelers and had 17 receptions of 20 or more yards in his four seasons in Pittsburgh. Roethlisberger was impressed with Wheaton’s ability to use his hands to defeat press coverage and to swipe the hands of defensive backs in coverage to catch those deep balls.

Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.

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