The losing streak is finally over, Montgomery needs more carries, and Mack is still playing great. These and other tidbits on the Chicago Bears news.
The Chicago Bears finally ended their losing streak by beating down the Houston Texans. After six consecutive losses, they played an almost complete game and, in the process, kept their faint playoff hopes alive. The running game was on point, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky played well, and the tight ends contributed. Additionally, special teams had a turnover. It was great to see the team play well and finish a game. It was long overdue.
Here are some other Bears tidbits for this week.
Give Monty the damn ball!
Running back David Montgomery had a great game. He had 113 rushing yards and a touchdown. He added 42 receiving yards as well. it all started on the first play from scrimmage when he took the handoff and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.
While that was great, the offense still hasn’t integrated Montgomery into the offense enough. After that touchdown run, he only had 10 more carries for 33 yards. Yes, the Bears won in a blowout but the way to put a team away is to run the ball down its throat after taking a big lead. Montgomery had 6 carries for 106 yards in the first half.
Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy talked last year about involving the running game more in the offense. He hasn’t done that with Montgomery, however. Last season, he averaged about 15 carries per game. This season, that average is down to about 14 carries per game. In the last three games (including Week 14 vs. the Texans), that average is just 13.
The coaches have to find a way to give Montgomery more carries. Yes, they adjusted the playcalling to tailor Trubisky’s assets, but having him drop back 113 times in three games is just asking for trouble. Some of it already happened as he threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball four times, losing three of them. Furthermore, the new-look offensive line is playing very well so Montgomery needs more carries.
Mack is back…or maybe he wasn’t gone in the first place
Linebacker Khalil Mack had himself a great game against the Texans. He forced and recovered a fumble, defended a pass, registered a pass, and scored a safety. He was putting pressure on Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson all day. The sack he had was his first in five games. He registered 5 sacks in his previous four games. Many people started writing him off already.
Despite the drought, Pro Football Focus has him as the highest-graded edge defender in 2020. He may only have 7.5 sacks but he’s been in the quarterback’s face all season long. Would it be nice to see more sacks? Yes, it would, but to think he’s having a bad season is nonsense. He’s still having a dominant season.
Hopefully, Mack continues his great play and gets a few more sacks in the process so people can stop the undeserved criticism.
Pay the man!
Another player who played well against the Texans was wide receiver Allen Robinson. He had 9 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. That wasn’t the only thing he did well in the game. On rookie wide receiver Darnell Mooney‘s 12-yard touchdown reception, Robinson was key with a great block, freeing up some space for Mooney to get into the end zone.
Robinson has been locked in a battle with the Chicago Bears over a new contract. Well, that isn’t technically the case. He and the Bears were in negotiations for a new contract but the Bears apparently withdrew from talks early in the season. Nothing has happened since and the belief is that he won’t return in 2021.
That would be a huge mistake for the Bears. Robinson is a great WR1. He’s been the most consistent receiver on the roster. With his game last week, he eclipsed 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. He is only the fifth receiver to do that, joining Curtis Conway, Marty Booker, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall. He did that despite Trubisky and Nick Foles struggling.
We don’t know if Trubisky, Foles, or someone else goes under center. No matter who it is, Robinson needs to be there to help him. Mooney is a good pickup but he’s still young. Anthony Miller is too inconsistent to help them and for some reason, the coaches don’t want to use Riley Ridley very much despite praising him constantly. There is also Javon Wims but he isn’t good enough unless you need a boxer (even then he lacks ability).
The Bears need to keep Robinson on the roster. If they let him walk, they’ll see how bad a decision that’ll be during the 2021 season.
This is the offensive line the team needed from the beginning of the season
Let’s give this new offensive line some credit. Having Charles Leno and Germain Ifedi as the tackles, Cody Whitehair and Alex Bars as the guards, and Sam Mustipher at center, the offense has run a lot smoother. Mustipher has done a great job of handling the blocking schemes. The unit is playing together better. The linemen are opening up nice holes for the running game and giving the quarterback pretty good protection.
Bobby Massie, who was the starter at right tackle before he injured his leg, was eligible to come back against the Texans but the coaches felt more comfortable with the lineup they currently have. That is a good decision despite Massie being the highest-rated offensive lineman for the Bears this season. There is no need to make changes when the line is playing so well. If the Bears have any hope of making a run and getting into the playoffs, this offensive line must lead the way.
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Mustipher’s play has been terrific. He isn’t allowing pressure on the quarterback and is doing great on his assignments. He’s showing that he should be in the mix for the starting center job next season. While with the Seattle Seahawks, Ifedi struggled at right tackle. He must have learned something because he’s playing the position in Chicago. Bars is showing that perhaps the Bears got a good pickup. He was an undrafted rookie because of the knee injury he suffered. He was a second or third round prospect before the injury and ultimately signed with the Bears last season.
We don’t know how this line will look next season. Expect either Leno or Massie to be cut. The team can save a big chunk of salary cap space By letting either one leave. We can even wildly speculate that maybe both get cut, saving $17 million. The line needs change, but the Chicago Bears might have the pieces to put out a good line on the field.