Snap Judgment: What little run game Bears have depends on David Montgomery
If the Bears intend to run at all, which is always in question with Matt Nagy, it’s going to have to go almost exclusively through Montgomery now that Tarik Cohen is out. Here’s a breakdown of the backfield, and several other notes on playing time from the loss to the Colts.
It’s hard for Bears coach Matt Nagy to spread playing time the way he wants when the team doesn’t run that many plays. The Bears set season lows with 62 plays and 27:32 time of possession in their 19-11 loss to the Colts on Sunday.
Whatever Nagy had planned in the run game sure didn’t happen, so the game offered little clarity on how he plans to proceed without Tarik Cohen. The running backs got just 13 carries; David Montgomery ran 10 times for 27 yards and Cordarrelle Patterson ran three times for 5 yards.
Montgomery played by far his season-high at 85.5% of the offensive snaps, leaving just 18% for Patterson and 2% for Ryan Nall. Recent practice squad call-up Artavis Pierce was inactive.
Even taking into account the diminished opportunities in the running game, Montgomery getting 77% of the running back carries is a significant jump from the 60% he had the first three games. Last season, Montgomery got 72%.
Kmet needs time
Rookie tight ends are rarely ready right away, and Cole Kmet is no different. With Jimmy Graham a better receiver (for now) and Demetrius Harris a better blocker (for now), it’s no surprise Kmet has played just 30% of the snaps so far.
Graham, by the way, has played 69% and Harris is at 43%. Harris also has more passing targets than Kmet, seven to 3.
Kmet played his lowest share of offensive snaps Sunday at 24%.
It’s important to keep in mind that three rookie tight ends have put up 600-plus yards as rookies in the last two decades. Yes, Kmet was the highest-drafted tight end this year, but that position is second only to quarterback in the amount of time it typically takes to acclimate to the NFL.
Quinn settling in
The Bears seem to have found outside linebacker Robert Quinn’s range. In three games coming off a rocky preseason, he has played 25, 32 and 32 snaps.
He’s going to play on third downs and other obvious passing scenarios, but otherwise the Bears are using Barkevious Mingo (42% of the defensive snaps) and James Vaughters (36%) the rest of the game. Mingo played 35% of the time against the Colts, and Vaughters played 32%.
That’s a much different plan than they use for Khalil Mack, who played 86% of the snaps last season and is at 87% so far in this one.
Mooney over Miller
The Colts game was the third in a row that fifth-round pick Darnell Mooney played more than Anthony Miller. Mooney got 46 snaps to Miller’s 43 on Sunday.
Their overall production is similar. Mooney has 145 yards and a touchdown on 13 catches (20 targets), while Miller has 133 and two scores on nine (19 targets).
Miller has played 52% of the snaps this season, down from 64% last season.
Missing Eddie Goldman
The Bears have relied heavily on nose tackle Eddie Goldman, a Pro Bowl alternate last season, and are missing his ability as a run stopper. He opted out of the season because of coronavirus concerns.
In his absence, as well as without injured d-tackle John Jenkins, the Bears played Akiem Hicks 76% of the time against the Colts, Bilal Nichols 61%, Roy Robertson-Harris 47% and Brent Urban 38%. Hicks is at 77% for the season, which is in line with the 74% he played in his last fully healthy season (2018).
Beras cornerback Kyle Fuller, safeties Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson and linebacker Roquan Smith played every snap against the Colts. Rookie Cornerback Jaylon Johnson played all but one.