Snap Judgment: More Robert Quinn equals better pass rush for Bears

The Sun-Times’ weekly look at the Bears’ snap counts shows an increase for Quinn, decrease for Anthony Miller and more.

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Robert Quinn didn’t get to the quarterback Thursday, but he opened lanes for Khalil Mack.

Robert Quinn didn’t get to the quarterback Thursday, but he opened lanes for Khalil Mack.

Danny Karni/AP

If it seemed to viewers at home like there was a lot more Robert Quinn in the Bears’ 20-19 win over the Buccaneers on Thursday, they were correct. And it made a big difference.

While Quinn never got to Tom Brady or made a tackle (he did think quickly to pounce on the fumble caused by cornerback Kyle Fuller in the second quarter), his presence was a big help to Khalil Mack. Mack had two sacks and would’ve had another if not for a personal foul call.

The Bears appeared to be restricting Quinn to third downs and other obvious passing situations in his first three games, but played him a season-high 58% of the snaps in the Bucs game. That’s a big jump from 39%, 47% and 44%.

There’s no question it’s prudent. But there is a question of whether it’s viable.

The risky part of the Bears signing him to a five-year, $70 million deal—the second-largest by any free agent this year—is that Quinn is 30 and in his 10th season. He is one of the greatest pass rushers of his era. He had 40 sacks from 2012 through ’14. But he hasn’t been an every-down player since then.

His playing time Thursday is close to the max of what’s reasonable for him at this stage. He played 14 games for the Cowboys last season and averaged 68% of their defensive snaps, or 46 snaps per game.

The Bears already went without Quinn in practice all preseason and didn’t have him for the opener, so they’ll have to be judicious about how much they use him. It’d be ideal if they could pull back in certain situations, but every Bears game this season has gone down to the wire and there’s probably plenty more to come.

The other member of the pass-rush triumvirate, by the way, is defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, and he played a season-high 57 snaps against the Bucs. If the plan is to overwhelm opponents with Mack, Hicks and Quinn, they’ve got to be on the field together as much as possible.

Patterson pays off

Another player who got more involved Thursday: running back Cordarrelle Patterson.

His entire time with the Bears has been interesting because he’s a world-class talent but coach Matt Nagy hasn’t unlocked that potential. Last season was lost, as Patterson got just 28 touches. He already has that number through five games in 2020.

Patterson played a season-high 24% of the snaps and chipped in 45 total yards. If the Bears are getting 30-40 yards per game out of Patterson, they’re making good use of him. He was especially effective as a receiver out of the backfield with catches of 5, 25 and 8 yards.

Ground game rests on Montgomery

Patterson did very little as a runner, and the Bears seem intent on going through David Montgomery almost exclusively now that Tarik Cohen is out for the season.

Montgomery played 81% of the offensive snaps and took 10 of the 13 running back carries. Neither he nor Patterson was successful, averaging 2.9 and 2.3 yards per carry, respectively. Montgomery added seven catches for 30 yards, though, which could be a suitable substitute for a running game.

Montgomery played 45%, 54% and 56% of the snaps the first three games, then jumped to 86% and 81% after Cohen’s injury.

Miller dips again

A few days after Nagy essentially said there was nothing to see here when it came to wide receiver Anthony Miller’s significant decrease in playing time this season, Miller played a season-low 41% of the snaps.

He was productive, though with four catches for 28 yards on four targets and had a crucial third-down catch on the game-winning drive.

Allen Robinson, who played 87%, was targeted 16 times and had 10 catches for 90 yards, while rookie Darnell Mooney played 65% of the snaps and caught two passes for 15. Mooney was also wide open for a deep ball, but quarterback Nick Foles couldn’t get the ball there.

Kmet still stuck

Speaking of things Nagy said, he mentioned that the 15 snaps rookie tight end Cole Kmet played against the Colts were not enough.

He bumped Kmet’s playing time to 21 snaps against the Bucs, but he still didn’t factor prominently in the offense at 33% of the snaps. Foles did not target him. Kmet has played 31% of the snaps this season, working mostly behind Demetrius Harris (44% Thursday and for the season).

Daniels knocked out

The injury to starting left guard James Daniels is a major concern for a Bears offensive line that looked like it was starting to find some footing. Daniels, who missed only one snap the first four games, played 51% Thursday before exiting. Alex Bars played the other 49% of the snaps at that position.

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