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Snap Judgment: Is it time to shake up the Bears’ offense?

A look at the playing time distribution from the Bears’ loss to the Raiders and what it indicates going forward.

Cordarrelle Patterson barely saw the field in the Bears’ loss to Oakland.
For the Sun-Times

Bears coach Matt Nagy has a week to sift through what ails his team before he turns his attention to the Oct. 20 home game against the Saints. That’s going to be a big test for the Bears.

Before putting their 24-21 loss to the Raiders in the rearview, here are some observations on the snap counts from that game:

Patterson must be more than a gimmick

One of the strangest aspects of the Bears’ offensive struggles — and their effort to snap out of them — Sunday against the Raiders was multi-purpose threat Cordarrelle Patterson stayed planted on the sideline most of the night.

One of the benefits of coach Matt Nagy having so many talented skill players is that it gives him many options to shake things up. Patterson is one of the team’s savviest, most experienced players on offense, and he’s been explosive in a limited role. Going into Sunday, he averaged 6.5 yards per touch.

But with the Bears desperate to get their offense moving, Patterson played a season-low two snaps and had one carry for 5 yards. He averaged 4.3 over the first four games, which probably still isn’t enough. Something in the 8-10 range would be worth a try when the Bears resume.

Cohen reemerging

Nobody fits in the perfect cross section of low-risk and high-reward like Tarik Cohen, and Nagy pivoted toward him against the Raiders. Cohen played 53 percent of the snaps against the Raiders, his highest share since the opener.

He never got going on the ground (10 yards on four rushes with a long of 4 yards), but he caught six of his seven targets and got 39 yards. It was nothing magical, but if Cohen can give them steady, modest production with the threat of breaking a long one, that’s a guy they need to keep using.

Wims goes quiet

The Bears have given Javon Wims the playing time that would normally go to Taylor Gabriel the last two weeks because Gabriel is in the concussion protocol. Wims played 94 percent of the snaps against the Vikings in Week 4 and turned in a career-best performance with four catches for 56 yards.

Against Oakland, he played 93 percent of the snaps, but didn’t produce much. Chase Daniel targeted him just once, and it was incomplete.

Backfield check-in

The Bears opted to pass on 34 of 51 plays (66.7 percent), and David Montgomery was their leading rusher with 25 yards on 11 carries. He also played 52 percent of the snaps, down from 69 percent the week before.

Bears quarterback Chase Daniel went to Montgomery just once as a receiver, hitting him on a great throw for 11 yards. Montgomery was well-covered, but Daniel put it precisely where he needed it to make a play, and Montgomery bodied the defender perfectly on the catch.

Nowhere to go on offensive line

The offensive line has been inconsistent, but there isn’t much Nagy can do about it personnel-wise.

All five starters played 100 percent of the snaps Sunday, and the Bears are down to just Cornelius Lucas III and Rashaad Coward in reserve. They’re better off letting this group try to correct itself.

Right guard Kyle Long and right tackle Bobby Massie are the only starting linemen to play less than 100 percent of the offensive snaps for the season, and those absences were because of injury, not performance.

Managing Mack’s workload

The Bears held Khalil Mack out for at least two plays near the end of the Raiders’ final scoring drive. He was probably spent. Oakland drove 97 yards for its go-ahead touchdown and ended up running 71 plays to the Bears’ 51 for a time of possession advantage of 34:43 to 25:17.

There’s been a lot of that for the Bears this season.

Mack played 62 of those 71 defensive snaps (85 percent), which was in his normal range. He was at 84 percent for the season going into the Raiders game and is on pace to play 947 snaps over 16 games. That would be 198 more than what he logged in 14 games last season. Ideally, the Bears would scale it back a little, but that’s not an option when they’re getting pounded like they were Sunday.

Iron Men

Three defensive players were out there for every snap: linebacker Danny Trevathan, safety Eddie Jackson and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.