Chicago Bears: Week 5 wrap up, takeaways, and week 6 preview

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With week 5 officially in the book for the Chicago Bears, let’s breakdown everything as Chicago leaves Las Vegas with a win. The Bears are over .500 for the first time since December 27th, 2020, a stat that doesn’t look noticeable to many but should be considered noteworthy as the Bears are on a two-game winning streak.

1) No David Montgomery, no problem for the Bears running game. Running backs Khalil Herbert and Damien Williams combine for 34 carries, 139 rushing yards, and one touchdown. Herbert and Williams averaged 4.1 yards per carry, which means the Bears running game shouldn’t miss a beat with David Montgomery out for the foreseeable future.

2) Speaking of Damien Williams, he’s been a sneaky good option for the Bears as a receiver this year. Williams averaged 10 yards per reception on Sunday, his highest of the season. Williams has continued to be an impact player for the Bears despite playing behind Montgomery.

3) Khalil Mack got his revenge game. The Bears pass rusher was all over the field on Sunday afternoon, quieting any doubters who used sack production as a means of saying Mack was too old or overpaid. The eighth-year pass rusher now has five sacks on the season and was constantly in the face of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr on Sunday, including sacking Carr on a two-point conversion attempt, giving the Bears an eight-point advantage.

4) Linebacker Alec Ogletree seemed to play more than Danny Trevathan, who made his season debut had just three tackles. Trevathan played just 15 percent of snaps on defense, while Ogletree played 52 percent of snaps. Two possibilities exist when looking at Trevathan’s decreased snap count in his season debut: The Bears are easing Trevathan back from a knee injury or Ogletree legitimately played well enough during Trevathan’s absence, impressing the coaching staff enough to hold down the starting job.

5) Safety Eddie Jackson seemed revitalized when speaking to the media during his postgame press conference. The Bears secondary still has communication issues to hammer out but Jackson was clearly proud of the way the Bears secondary performed. Wide receiver Henry Ruggs and tight end Darren Waller had just seven receptions combined.

6) Chicago rushing defense limited the Raiders to just 3.2 yards per carry, just the second time this season the Bears have allowed just under 3.5 yards per carry. The other time was week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. Despite missing Akiem Hicks in week 5, the Bears rush defense was more than solid, proving that the defensive line is playing at a high level.

7) One area of concern for the Bears is the lack of finishing opponents off. Week 5 marked the third time this season the Bears had the opportunity to put Raiders away but failed to do so. Cairo Santos’ two field goals in the fourth quarter helped but Santos’ first field goal came on the end of a 10 play, 57-yard drive that lasted just over six minutes. Field goals are fine with a lead but touchdowns usually end up being the final blow when putting opponents away for good.

8) Justin Fields threw the ball just 20 times against the Raiders, completing just 12 passes. At some point, the Bears need to open up the offense more and allow Fields to throw the ball more, especially with two tough games against the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coming up.

9) The Robert Quinn revenge tour continues. The 11th-year veteran wasted no time getting involved on Sunday afternoon, tackling Raiders running back Josh Jacobs for no gain on Las Vegas’ first offensive play. Quinn didn’t register a sack but still made his presence felt, consistently generating pressure. Fun fact: Quinn’s play in 2021 has earned him a grade of 75.2 from Pro Football Focus.

10) The Bears are good but not good enough on third down. Chicago converted 46 percent of third downs on Sunday, still eclipsing the Bears season average of 32.75 percent. The Bears do need to improve in this area to ensure the offense can keep stacking up strong performances together.

Looking ahead to week 6

The Green Bay Packers are coming to town and there’s something different about this Bears-Packers matchup. Maybe it’s the Justin Fields effect but the Bears have been playing well enough to warrant hanging with the Packers and making this a slugfest. Green Bay narrowly escaped the Cincinnati Bengals on the road in week 5, with Packers kicker Mason Crosby missing three potential game-winning field goals.

The Bears’ secondary will have its hands full trying to slow down Aaron Rodgers and Packers wide receiver Devante Adams but Green Bay’s secondary is also banged up with star cornerback Jaire Alexander unlikely to play, while CB Kevin King is injured too.

Matt Nagy has never beat Packers head coach Matt LaFleur and the Bears have beaten the Packers just once since 2018. With Rodgers not expected to return in 2022, the NFC North crown is wide open and for a changing of the guard to begin, the Bears will need to come away with a win on Sunday afternoon.

31 questions to Bears camp: How good can the RB position be?

When the Chicago Bears report to Halas Hall for training camp, running back will be an important position to keep an eye on. Workhorse David Montgomery will lead the way, while fifth-year veteran Tarik Cohen returns from a torn ACL sustained in 2020. Damien Williams will provide some quality veteran depth, especially after having played in an offensive system similar to the Bears while with the Kansas City Chiefs for two seasons in 2018 and 2019. Khalil Hebert, Artavis Pierce, Ryan Nall, and C.J. Marable will provide depth, making running back one of the deepest positions on the roster.

How good Chicago’s running backs can be will hinge on how quickly the offensive line gels, potentially setting the stage to be one of the NFL’s best running back rooms this year. Montgomery returns fully healthy, looking to take another step forward, realizing his true potential as a dual-threat running back.

“It wasn’t enough for me last year, knowing my untapped potential that I have within myself,” Montgomery said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Just being more vocal, being able to stand what I say and allow my words to carry a lot of strength when I speak. Doing all things right at all times.”

Halfway through the 2020 season, Chicago’s offensive philosophy changed, becoming a pass-first offense over a seven-week span. The Bears failed to rush for 100 or more yards in this same time span, before making a switch at quarterback, which allowed the running game to flourish.

“Biggest thing for me that clicked, just the mentality for everybody,” Montgomery said. “We all just trusted in each other. We believed that something was going to work. It’s embracing the role that is meant for me, whatever that may be. I think I could have done better for my guys around me.”

Montgomery will lead the way but the Bears will have plenty of contributions from Cohen and Williams, two players who provide additional value in the passing game, allowing head coach Matt Nagy to get creative with matchups.

“Being that I’ve been in this offense, I could give out pointers here and there but these guys, they’re great, they know what they’re doing,” Williams said via the Bears official YouTube page. “So all I can do is give my vet, my little things here and there of what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen. I’m just trying to get in here like the rookie kid and fit in.”

As Chicago continues to prepare for the 2021 season, running back is a positional group where the potential is unlimited, generating plenty of excitement.

Chicago Bears: Biggest questions at the RB position

The Chicago Bears will begin training camp at Halas Hall in just over two weeks and one position that can be labeled as the best on the team is running back. Featuring workhorse running back David Montgomery and complementary pieces in Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams. Depth also exists with players like Artavis Pierce, Ryan Nall, C.J. Marable, and Khalil Herbert, giving the Bears multiple players with a dual-threat skillset.

As Chicago continues to prepare for the 2021 NFL season, let’s get into three questions regarding the running back position.

1) How good can Montgomery be in 2021?

“It wasn’t enough for me last year, knowing my untapped potential that I have within myself,” Montgomery said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Just being more vocal, being able to stand what I say and allow my words to carry a lot of strength when I speak. Doing all things right at all times.”

As Montgomery enters year three, Chicago’s revamped offensive line should allow for him to see an increase in production with 2000 yards from scrimmage being a reasonable expectation. Montgomery clearly has high expectations of himself, looking to become one of the NFL’s best running backs, joining names like Christian McCaffery, Saquon Barkley, and Alvin Kamara.

If Montgomery takes the next step forward, he’ll be eligible for a contract extension next offseason but to have a breakout season, Chicago also needs to continue feeding Montgomery and using his dual-threat skillset to the fullest advantage.

2) How much do Cohen and Williams open up the offense?

Chicago added Williams this offseason and with Cohen returning, the Bears will be able to run multiple plays featuring two-back sets. Both players have shown the ability to be dual-threat playmakers, impacting Chicago’s running and passing attack.

Cohen and Williams will also allow Nagy to get creative in terms of playcalling, while providing quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Justin Fields with mismatches against linebackers, freeing up wide receivers Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney for additional deep throws.

3) Is Khalil Herbert being slept on?

Chicago drafted Herbert with the 217th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. During his lone season at Virginia Tech, Herbert averaged nearly 27 yards per return, showcasing the ability to be an electric player on special teams.

“They really want me to come in here and learn as much as I can,” Herbert said via the Bears official Youtube page. “Establish a role on special teams, they’re really big on that. Getting in my playbook, learning as much as I can to help contribute to the team in some way or form”.

Herbert should carve out a role on special teams, giving the Bears a long-term option as a returner but he should be given opportunities to impact Chicago’s running and passing game throughout his rookie season.

Damien Williams experience a valuable asset for the Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears made a number of intriguing moves throughout the NFL’s annual free agency period, bringing in veterans like running back Damien Williams to help shore up depth throughout the roster. One unexpected signing was Williams, especially since many believed that running back depth wasn’t necessarily a need for the Bears but William’s familiarity and experience within the offensive system that head coach Matt Nagy runs made him an intriguing pickup.

Despite opting out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19, Williams enters a running back room featuring David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen. While his role will be a rotational player, Williams did spend two seasons (2018 and 2019) with the Kansas City Chiefs, playing in an offensive very similar to what Nagy hopes to run.

“Being that I’ve been in this offense, I could give out pointers here and there but these guys, they’re great, they know what they’re doing,” Williams said via the Bears official YouTube page. “So all I can do is give my vet, my little things here and there of what I’ve been through and what I’ve seen. I’m just trying to get in here like the rookie kid and fit in.”

When looking at Williams career, rarely has he ever been asked to be a workhorse running back. Rather, he’s continued to be a rotational player, amassing just 13 starts since 2014, while playing in 85 games. As a dual-threat running back, Williams has made a name for himself as a pass catcher over the years with 138 receptions for 1106 yards, and 10 touchdowns, averaging eight yards per reception.

Montgomery and Cohen are very experienced in the Bears offense, however, adding a player like Williams as a sounding board will be helpful for younger running backs like Ryan Nall, Artavis Pierce, and Khalil Herbert, all three of which could end up battling for roster spots heading into 2021.