The Chicago Bears beat the Minnesota Vikings 33-27 in their Week 15 matchup. Both teams showed up, particularly on offense, in an extremely important game. The winner, in this case Chicago, now has a good chance of making the playoffs while the loser (Minnesota) is virtually out of the playoff race. Here are 3 Bears takeaways from Week 15.
The Bears cannot be taken lightly
Two weeks ago, this statement would have been completely untrue. They lost to the Detroit Lions in heartbreaking fashion, blowing a 10 point lead by allowing 2 touchdowns in the final 2 minutes and 18 seconds of the game. This loss extended their losing streak to 6 games, and it looked like it was all over for Chicago.
The next week, however, the Bears blew out the Houston Texans. But it was still too early to say that Chicago is a strong team, as the Texans are not good.
In this week’s matchup, they had another impressive win against Minnesota. This was a big turn around from their previous game against the divisional rivals, when they lost 19-13 in a depressing effort. The Vikings are a very solid team, but Chicago scored first on a Darnell Mooney receiving touchdown and led the rest of the game.
Something clicked for the Bears. They have scored 99 points in the past three games with no sign of letting up. The offense is humming, likely due to a change in play calling. Chicago has converted into a run-first, play action pass offense, something much more suited for the team than their previous offensive strategy.
Hopefully, the alterations the team has made are not too late. According to the New York Times, Chicago has a 33% chance of making the postseason. If the 1/3 chance goes in Chicago’s favor, the Bears could be a sleeper team to watch out for in the playoffs. It is unlikely that they would win more than one or two games in the postseason, but as long as the Bears offense, defense and special teams continue to work in tandem, they should not be taken lightly.
Resigning Allen Robinson is the top priority
Allen Robinson is one of the most dependable wide receivers in the league. His contract with the Bears expires this offseason. For a long time, Bears fans and media have been pushing for an extension, but for whatever reason, the two sides have yet to come to an agreement.
Robinson is often overlooked due to poor play by his quarterbacks. He has some of the surest hands in the league and can catch almost any ball thrown to him. He has dropped only 1.5% of passes this season, and repeatedly makes amazing catches.
Behind Robinson, the Bears wide receivers are just okay. Rookie Darnell Mooney has impressed, with 46 catches and 0 drops. However, he does not have the same height and ability to outmuscle the defender for tough catches. Anthony Miller, although talented, does not seem to fit in any role besides slot receiver.
Chicago’s offense is finally getting its legs. Without Robinson, however, it would totally collapse. If the Bears make the playoffs and win a game or two, he might be more inclined to stay in the Windy City. Bears fans just need to hope that the front office recognizes Robinson’s value and prioritizes extending him.
David Montgomery has found his rhythm
In his first one and a half years in the NFL, running back David Montgomery showed much potential despite unimpressive statistics. He showed a clear ability to break tackles and power through hits to gain extra yards. However, breaking tackles does not matter too much if you’re getting hit 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage.
This was David Montgomery’s struggle for a long time. A revolving, porous Bears offensive line gave him no opportunities to get lanes and run the ball downhill.
However, Chicago’s offensive line suddenly figured it out. Up front, Germain Ifedi, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars and Charles Leno have started the past 4 games together, and Montgomery has seen an immediate impact.
With those five offensive linemen blocking for him, Montgomery has 108.5 rushing yards per game and 5 rushing touchdowns. Against the Vikings, he set his career single game record in both carries and rushing yards.
Head coach Matt Nagy’s play calling also caused problems for Montgomery. In the past, Nagy tried to establish a pass first, throw the ball downfield offense. With Chicago’s lack of weapons and an inaccurate deep ball quarterback in Trubisky, this didn’t work. It also meant less touches for the running back.
Nagy then handed the playbook to offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Lazor changed things up, making the Bears offense more focused on the run and frequently using play action to throw the ball. Montgomery has benefited, getting more carries and opportunities to make plays.
Because of an improved offensive line and more beneficial play calling, David Montgomery has finally found his rhythm. The rushing lanes that he could not get in the past are now open to him, and he can now show his true star potential each week.
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