Before the Chicago Bears begin the second half of their season, let’s take an in-depth look at the Bears offense and how it’s faring at the halfway point.
I already shared my report on the Bears’ defense, you can check that out right here!
In case you were wondering like I was, these are the rankings over the last three weeks since the now-famous mini-bye turnaround.
- Total Yards: 7th
- Points Scored: 2nd
- 3rd Down%: 1st
- Red Zone%: 10th
That’s a top-10 offense, folks. Let’s hope that trend continues in the second half of the year. Okay, onto the positional breakdown.
You don’t have to be reading this article to know that Justin Fields has been playing at a high level over the last three weeks. And for this report, I’m going to share where he stands on the year, but then take a deep dive into how drastically he’s improved.
Sit back and enjoy …
Looking at the entire season, Fields ranks 26th in passing yards (1,322), 21st in passing touchdowns and 8th in yards per attempt (12). When you look at the ratings, Fields has the 13th-best QBR (55.1) and comes in at 22nd for passer rating (85).
His two game-winning drives are tied for fourth-best in the league. And it can be argued he’s a couple of key drops away from having at least a couple more this season.
As a rusher, Fields has the 11th-most rushing yards in the NFL and is second among quarterbacks with 602 yards on the ground. Fields has the second-most rushing first downs gained (42) and yards per carry (6.6).
Now let’s look at some key stats over the last three weeks …
First, Fields’ passer rating is the ninth-highest (104.7). He is also tied for third in passing touchdowns (7). When under pressure, Fields has been the 10th-best QB in terms of completion percentage (59.1). He’s also thrown the second-most touchdowns while under pressure (3) and has the league’s best passer rating under pressure (128.6).
An area Bears Fans should get excited about is Fields’ ability to carve up defenses in the intermediate range (10-19 yards downfield). Over the last three weeks, Fields’ adjusted completion percentage in this range is atop the NFL (84.6) and his passer rating also ranks first with a near-perfect 157.9.
For Fields, it’s all about continuing to develop and consistently play at a high level down the stretch to prove he is a top quarterback in this league that the Bears must continue building around.
Upgrade Need Level: 0
The Bears have their quarterback, period.
The Bears have the league’s top rushing attack at the midway point, and it’s not just Fields, the Bears’ backs have had a large role in this, too. The Bears run the ball more than any other team (36.1 attempts per game) and lead the NFL in rushing yards per game (195.4) — beating second-place Baltimore by nearly 30 yards per game. The Bears have the second-most yards per attempt (5.4) only trailing the Ravens by a tenth of a yard (5.5).
Top Performer: Khalil Herbert
Khalil Herbert continues to impress in his second season. Despite one start, he ranks 13th in the league with 586 rushing yards. For context, the next back with one or fewer starts ranks 47th. Herbert is a top-10 back in yards per attempt, coming in seventh (6.0). His 17 runs of 10+ are tied for sixth-best, and he’s the only back with less than 100 attempts that ranks in the top 10 with these sorts of runs. Herbert also comes in t-13th at the position in rushing touchdowns (4).
David Montgomery leads the Bears in rushing attempts (106) but he’s well behind Herbert in rushing yards (397), yards per attempt (3.7) and rushing touchdowns (2). Montgomery has been more productive as a receiver catching 14 passes for 143 yards.
Rookie Trestan Ebner has 18 carries but is only averaging 2.6 yards per rush.
Herbert and Montgomery complete the three-headed monster that is the Bears’ rushing attack. They each provide something a little different to the table, but each role is important in its own right. It will be interesting to watch and see if Montgomery can end up as the team’s leading rusher (at least at running back) or if Herbert will end up on top.
Upgrade Need Level: 0
The Bears have one of the best duos in the game at the position, there’s no reason they need to “upgrade.” However, moving on from Montgomery for monetary reasons may be in our future, and if that’s the case, this moves to a five as Ebner has a lot to prove in the league still.
Alright, time for a reality check as it’s time to look at a position that has struggled for the vast majority of this season. Did you know that the Bears only have one wide receiver with more than 11 catches this season? Yes, you read that correctly.
That leads us to the …
Top Performer: Darnell Mooney
Darnell Mooney leads the Bears with 32 catches and 407 yards. That’s over 20 catches and 250 yards more than the next receiver. And don’t forget, it was a rough start for Mooney who only had 27 receiving yards through the first three weeks of the season. After he hit the jugs following the Texans’ game, he has averaged 4.7 catches and 63.3 yards per game.
As mentioned, the rest of the receiving corps has not been able to produce. Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis have nearly identical stats as they each have 11 catches for 164 and 167 yards respectively. N’Keal Harry has four catches this season in three games and Chase Claypool has two in his lone contest as a Bear.
It’s worth noting that Claypool has the same amount of targets (6) in one game as rookie Velus Jones Jr had in five.
Byron Pringle, who many believed would have a large role on this team, only played three games before being placed on IR. He began practicing two weeks ago, which means he has another week to be activated off IR or remain on it for the rest of the season. If he can get healthy, Pringle is someone to watch in the second half of the season.
Upgrade Need Level: 8
Claypool’s arrival bumps this down from a 10, but receiver is still a large need for the Bears moving forward as they continue to build around Fields. If Claypool can provide production that mirrors his rookie season, the Bears have two strong options in him and Mooney. Adding another playmaker at the position would be the icing on the cake that can make this offense a top unit.
The Bears struggled to get production from the tight end position throughout the majority of the season; however, things have changed over the last couple of weeks as Fields has been able to get Cole Kmet into the end zone.
Top Performer: Cole Kmet
Kmet is second on the team with 19 catches and 200 yards. He leads the Bears with three touchdown receptions, all of which have come in the last two weeks. That is good to tie for the third-most at the position in the NFL. He has three games with 40 or more yards. Kmet also has three games where he’s failed to reach the 20-yard mark.
In terms of blocking, Kmet’s PFF grade for run blocking is the fifth-highest among tight ends that have played 127 run block snaps or more. His pass block grade of 71.6 is fourth in the NFL of tight ends that played at least 30 pass block snaps.
There’s not a lot to write home about outside of Kmet. Ryan Griffin and Trevon Wesco have combined for four catches and eight yards.
Upgrade Need Level: 5
Kmet’s scoring production is an exciting recent development that hopefully can continue in the second half of the season. He’s also been one of the best blockers at his position, and proving he can be an effective starter in this league.
The Bears still could benefit from adding more talent around him. Another pass-catching presence at the position in the future would be a welcomed addition.
The final positional group to examine is the Bears’ offensive line which has had its fair share of struggles in pass protection, but it’s hard to deny the impact they’ve had paving the way for the Bears’ elite rushing attack.
Top Performer: Teven Jenkins
Even though Teven Jenkins had to begin the season splitting right guard duties with Lucas Patrick, he has proven to be the Bears’ best lineman. You’ll find clips of him bulldozing through defenders on a weekly basis and he’s been a joy to watch. Jenkins has the Bears’ highest run block grade on PFF (81.1), which is fifth of all guards in the league that has played at least 145 run block snaps.
Jenkins has played the third-most snaps among Bears’ offensive linemen (456), and he’s given up the fourth-fewest pressures (9) of the eight linemen who have played 155 or more snaps. Jenkins is proving to be the real deal.
Rookie Braxton Jones has given up the most pressures (28), which is 12 more than the next Bear, Lucas Patrick. Patrick’s 16 total pressures allowed is alarming considering he’s played the second-fewest snaps (269). Sam Mustipher and Larry Borom are the other two Bears that have allowed double-digit pressures. Mustipher has allowed 13 and Borom has given up 10.
It’s been the tackles giving up the most sacks as Jones and Borom are responsible for Fields being sacked eight times. Four Bears’ linemen have been flagged multiple times, with Jones leading the group with three penalties.
Upgrade Need Level: 7
Even though this unit has done a solid job creating rushing lanes, there’s a lot of room for improvement in pass protection. And if the Bears want any sort of future with Fields blossoming into a top-tier passer, they’ll need the protection to match.
There you have it! An in-depth snapshot of the Bears’ offense at the halfway point of the season. It’s remarkable to see what this unit has been able to accomplish since they changed things up after the loss to the Commanders. With sky-high hopes and a ton of momentum, the Bears should continue finding their way for the rest of the season.
And that will be a lot of fun to watch!
Do you have any key observations or takeaways from the first half of the season? Let me know in the comments!