After losing to the Arizona Cardinals at home, the Chicago Bears have dropped six of the last seven games, and continue to be on the outside looking in for the playoffs. Let’s recap week 13 for the Bears.
1) Running back David Montgomery was the Bears’ best playmaker on Sunday. The third-year pro had 21 carries for 90 rushing yards and one touchdown. Montgomery was also involved in the passing game with eight receptions for 51 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per reception. The weather certainly factored into the Bears using Montgomery heavily but Sunday also proved that for the final five games of the season, the offense needs to revolve around Montgomery, which means shifting to a pass-first philosophy.
2) The Bears led the Cardinals in four key categories: Time of possession, first downs, total yards, and turnovers. Arizona averaged just five yards per play but having a short field on the first two possessions as a result of Andy Dalton’s interceptions is what led to an earlier-than-expected Arizona lead. The Bears’ defense isn’t good enough to overcome mistakes made by the offense, which means both sides of the football need to play a near-perfect game to have a chance at winning.
3) Jakeem Grant being the Bears leading receiver on Sunday shows how much the WR room needs to be overhauled during the 2022 offseason. Arizona locked up Darnell Mooney all afternoon and without Allen Robinson or Marquise Goodwin, the Dalton was forced to throw to the likes of Grant and Damiere Byrd. Chicago traded for Grant to be an impact player on special teams, not in the passing game, despite having some speed.
4) Center Sam Mustipher had two fumbles on Sunday. In other words, the Mustipher experiment needs to end for the Bears. With rookie offensive tackle Teven Jenkins officially active, the Bears can reshuffle the offensive line, inserting Jenkins into the starting lineup while moving James Daniels or Cody Whitehair to center. The Bears need to see what they have in Jenkins during the final five games of the season as Chicago believes it finally got an OT with the potential to develop into a franchise cornerstone on the OL.
5) Montgomery’s postgame presser was one of the best I’ve ever heard since I started covering the Bears in 2017. “I’m a fighter, I’m never going to stop fighting,” said Montgomery. “I’m never going to stop giving it everything I got.”
Talk about someone who’s a leader of men and is intrinsically motivated. With the chance of making the playoffs bleak, Montgomery’s positive energy should radiate throughout the locker room.
6) For the second straight game, cornerback Artie Burns posted some solid numbers with six tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass breakup. Burns may not be a long-term solution but he’s a good enough security blanket to finish out 2021 before the Bears have to make a decision on his future with the team during the 2022 offseason.
7) The Cardinals’ offense is everything Matt Nagy hopes his offense can be someday. Arizona had the ball for just over 25 minutes but averaged 7.5 yards per pass attempt. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray carved up the Bears’ secondary all afternoon with explosive plays in the passing game to keep the Bears defense on its toes. Kliff Kingsbury has emerged as one of the smartest offensive minds in football and the Cardinals are finding their groove with the postseason right around the corner.
8) The Bears were 3-for-3 in the redzone and 4-for-4 on fourth down yesterday. Rarely does that ever happen but Matt Nagy found a way to get it done yesterday. Nagy is on his way out but at least converting in the redzone and on fourth down mattered in a game that Chicago tried to keep competitive.
9) One way to slow the Cardinals down is creating turnovers. And the Bears’ defense had none on Sunday. While Roquan Smith was hampered due to a hamstring injury, the Bears need to be better in this category to have a chance at being able to play complementary football and give the offense a chance at scoring more points.
10) The Bears had two drives on Sunday that lasted more than seven minutes. While this may not seem noteworthy to some, it is progress for an offense that’s been through growing pains over the last four seasons. Long drives aren’t the issue now but execution is still lacking as the Bears are unable to cap off these drives with touchdowns, instead of field goals.