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Snap Judgment: Even when they score, Bears overworking their defense

What can we tell from the Bears’ playing time distribution in the Lions game?

Roquan Smith looks more and more like he’s back to normal after an early-season drop-off.
AP Photos

The Bears’ offense played a relatively productive game in their 20-13 win over the Lions on Sunday, but still tasked the defense with an extensive workload.

The defense played its second-most snaps at 83 (according to Football Reference; the NFL had it at 75) and spent 31:54 on the field. Cornerback Kyle Fuller, free safety Eddie Jackson and strong safety Eddie Jackson played every one of them, and cornerback Prince Amukamara missed one play after taking a hard hit.

The Bears are playing nearly 67 defensive snaps per game, which is the sixth-highest in the NFL. Khalil Mack, who played 88 percent of the plays Sunday, is on pace for 977 this season.

Here are some other notes from the snap distribution against the Lions:

Cohen comes back

After playing under 40 percent of the snaps each of the last two weeks, Tarik Cohen got 53 percent of them Sunday. He got seven total opportunities (four targets, three rushes) and produced 37 yards and a touchdown.

The 5.3 yards per chance was well above the 3.8 per target and 2.4 per rush he was averaging coming into the game.

In the backfield, David Montgomery played 60 percent of the snaps, and Cordarrelle Patterson played 26 percent.

Montgomery still dominated in carries, getting 17 (60 yards) compared to three for Cohen (14 yards) and three for Mitch Trubisky (8 yards).

Tight end trouble

Tight end continues to be a problematic position for the Bears.

Trey Burton was limited by a calf injury played 35 percent of the snaps, J.P. Holtz (also a fullback) got 33 percent of the snaps and Ben Braunecker played 21 percent. Adam Shaheen, a second-round pick in 2017, was a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

None of them factored prominently in the passing game. Braunecker caught his first career touchdown pass in the second quarter, but that was his only target of the game. Burton was targeted once, but couldn’t get his feet down in bounds.

Williams’ emergence

Journeyman defensive tackle Nick Williams continued his breakout season with his team-best sixth sack and said afterward this is by far the best opportunity he’s had in his career.

Williams played 42 percent of the defensive snaps, second among d-linemen only to Roy Robertson-Harris at 61 percent. That was Robertson-Harris’ biggest chunk of playing time since Week 5 against the Raiders.

Nose tackle Eddie Goldman, playing through a thigh injury, gutted it out for 35 percent of the snaps, and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols played 34 percent. Defensive end Brent Urban, a midseason pickup, played 25 percent of the snaps.

Trevathan injury opens door for Kwiatkoski

Inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski played his highest snap count (65) since 2016 after replacing injured starter Danny Trevathan. Trevathan, who played 97.3 percent of the snaps going into the Lions game, lasted for just 20 percent and is possibly going to Injured Reserve after his elbow bent entirely the wrong way.

Kwiatkoski has long been thought of as a replacement for Trevathan starting in 2020; both are unrestricted free agents this spring. He had nine tackles, a sack and an interception.

The Bears’ other inside linebacker, Roquan Smith, continues to look more like himself. He played 89 percent of the snaps against Detroit.