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Hoge's Bears Things: A major injury strikes

Adam Hoge Avatar
November 16, 2022

This week’s edition of Adam Hoge’s Bears Things is unlocked for all to read! But it will normally be a benefit of being a CHGO Diehard! Sign up today to get Adam’s Bears reporting in your inbox every week!

Late in Sunday’s 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions, a significant player suffered a significant injury. That’s where we start this week’s Bears Things.

The Lead: Khalil Herbert goes down

On the Bears’ final kick return Sunday, Bears running back Khalil Herbert lost his footing and took an awkward hit. It wasn’t very noticeable, but the Bears quickly ruled him out with a hip injury, which is never good. 

Monday, head coach Matt Eberflus refused to provide an update on the running back, simply saying he’d talk about injuries on Wednesday. But Tuesday, the Bears put Herbert on injured reserve, keeping him out of the lineup until Week 15. Hip injuries can be particularly tricky, which means it’s difficult to predict when Herbert will return this season.

It’s a significant blow to the Bears’ No. 1 ranked rushing attack. Herbert is second on the Bears in rushing (behind Justin Fields) with 643 yards on 108 carries. His 6.0 yards/carry average is the best in the league. He’s been the lightning to David Montgomery’s thunder, so the Bears will have to make a significant adjustment. 

That said, it is a loss the Bears can overcome. After all, Fields is the most electric runner on the team and has already taken on a large rushing load. Montgomery is still a very underrated back who picks up the dirty yards, especially on third down. And the Bears can now turn to rookie Trestan Ebner, who has taken a back seat, especially since offensive coordinator Luke Getsy increased Fields’ designed runs. The Bears like Ebner and he also could take over Herbert’s kick return duties. Perhaps Herbert’s injury also re-opens the door for rookie Velus Jones Jr. to get another chance in the return game. 

Fields Guide

Here’s your weekly review of Justin Fields’ performance after watching the coaches’ film:

The Good: Nice, easy keep on the first play to pick up 28 yards … Incredible job to escape a free rusher, find space within the pocket and unload a pass to Dante Pettis while getting hit … Continually getting better at keeping eyes downfield when scrambling … Good flip of hips to hit Mooney in the red zone while navigating traffic in front of him … Quick recognition that coverage was passed off on rub route and insane scramble/run to do it himself and get into the end zone … Good pocket presence and footwork to drive throw to Mooney for 22 yards … Good ball location to Cole Kmet on first touchdown, throwing it where only his tight end could get it … Calm, easy throw downfield to Kmet with free linebacker bearing down… Great response to pick-6 by delivering a ridiculous 67-yard TD run.

The Bad: Still not throwing with enough anticipation … Rare high miss to Byron Pringle … Had out-route open to Pettis on 3rd-and-5 and instead took a deep shot to Kmet and underthrew it a touch (back shoulder didn’t seem necessary because Kmet had his man beat) … Pick-6 was a terrible decision (MUST throw it at the defender’s feet as soon as the screen is sniffed out) … Poor touch on back-shoulder throw to Claypool (too much of a line drive) …  Missed check down on 2nd-and-10 sack on final drive … Must throw the ball up on the final play, even though no one was open.

Overall: This was another good game for Fields, who has now strung together four straight games of some of the best quarterback play in the league. That said, this was the worst of those four games with plenty to correct with his coaches. Still, this is the baseline where you want to be operating from — when the “bad” game is still a really good one. Most of Fields’ mistakes against the Lions were common quarterback errors, not long-term issues that cause concern. 

The Draft Room

Well, now that the Bears are sitting in the No. 6 overall spot in next year’s NFL Draft, it’s probably time to start looking at best-case scenarios. The bottomish-middle of the NFL is so bunched up right now that one win could truly be the difference between 5-10 spots in the draft order.

So let’s talk best case scenario: It goes without saying that a higher pick is better. Then you always look at the quarterbacks. There was a time when this QB class was getting compared to Justin Fields’ class in 2021, but that buzz has died down a little bit. Still, Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis and (maybe) Hendon Hooker have enough talent to drive the usual quarterback jockeying that we usually see as the draft gets closer.

The reason that matters for the Bears is because it could put GM Ryan Poles in a position to trade down. A pass rusher like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. or a defensive tackle like Georgia’s Jalen Carter might be too good to pass up, but if there’s enough interest in the quarterbacks, it’s possible to move back a spot or two and still land one of those players. Perhaps you can add even more future draft capital and still grab Northwestern left tackle Peter Skoronski in the top 10. 

One model to keep an eye on is what Philadelphia Eagles’ GM Howie Roseman has done over the last few years. In 2021, the Eagles held the No. 6 overall pick and moved back to No. 12 weeks before the draft, adding a 2022 first round pick. Stocked with three first-rounders in 2022 (after the Carson Wentz trade) he then moved back last year, adding an extra first-round pick in 2023.

So here the Eagles are, now 8-1 this season, projected to have the No. 4 overall pick in 2023 from New Orleans. 

Not a bad place to be in.

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