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Snap judgment: Bears TE Cole Kmet finally gets that bump in playing time

Kmet played a season-high 43% of the snaps, and the corresponding move was Demetrius Harris playing a season-low (by far) 7%.

Matt Nagy finally made good on his vow to play Cole Kmet more.
Matt Nagy finally made good on his vow to play Cole Kmet more.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

The Bears gave one of their better overall performances in taking the Saints to overtime Sunday, but came up short in a 26-23 loss that dropped them to 5-3.

Beyond the many issues they need to figure out offensively and some frustrating lapses on defense, here’s the Chicago Sun-Times’ weekly look at how Matt Nagy and his staff divided up playing time:

Would Wims be missed?

There’s certainly a possibility the Bears will be without wide receiver Javon Wims against the Titans after his ejection for throwing punches at Saints safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson. Whether that’s from an NFL suspension or a simple benching by Nagy is to be determined.

Wims played just 13% of the offensive snaps and two snaps on special teams. For the season, he has played 26% of the snaps — significantly more than Cordarrelle Patterson (18%) and Ted Ginn (12%), just as a point of reference. So the Bears would have to rework some things without him. Ginn would likely be his replacement offensively, and the Bears could make Riley Ridley active.

The most Wims has played this season was 45% against the Giants, and he played 16% in the loss to the Colts.

Wims has eight of the Bears’ 312 passing targets this season and has five catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. He’s also regarded as a good blocker. But if Nagy wants to make a point by making him inactive, it wouldn’t be hugely detrimental for one game.

Here are the wide receiver snaps from Sunday, by the way:

Allen Robinson, 97%
Darnell Mooney, 93%
Anthony Miller, 76%
Javon Wims, 13%

Kmet gets his chance

Nagy has continued lamenting that the Bears haven’t played rookie tight end Cole Kmet enough this season, but he finally fixed that issue Sunday. Kmet played a season-high 43% of the snaps, and the corresponding move was Demetrius Harris playing a season-low (by far) 7%.

Harris had averaged 40% of the snaps prior to the Saints game, but his playing time declined from 44% against the Buccaneers to 36% against the Panthers and 29% against the Rams.

Kmet had not played more than 35%, which he logged against the Panthers when he caught his first touchdown pass. As his playing time has gone up, so has his production. Kmet has five catches for 67 yards on five targets the last three games after one catch in the first five.

Hicks the Hulk

Few players can say this: Akiem Hicks is looking better and better at age 30.

Hicks played a season-high 92% of the defensive snaps against the Saints for his biggest share of the playing time since Week 6 of 2018 (also against one of his former teams, the Patriots). He had three tackles and a quarterback hit.

Hicks has played 71% or more every game and has been at 80% or higher each of the last four. He leads all Bears defensive linemen at 81% of the defensive snaps for the season.

What about Quinn?

It’s hard to figure out exactly what’s going on with outside linebacker Robert Quinn after the Bears said his ideal playing time is 50-60% and he rarely is in that range. He played 51% against the Saints, just the second time this season he has been in for more than half the snaps.

“From the start, they’ve been kind of monitoring my snaps and it’s been working,” Quinn said Monday. “So I’m not going to get down on ourselves because we had a rough week. But at the end of the day I know I haven’t had production, but the pressure and hits have been there. That’s affecting the game.”

Quinn, who plays primarily in obvious passing situations, has one sack and four pressures.

Offensive line carousel

The Bears have now used nine offensive linemen. Starting left guard James Daniels is out for the season, center Cody Whitehair missed Sunday with a calf injury and right tackle Bobby Massie exited the game after hurting his knee.

Massie was in for just four snaps, and backup swing tackle Jason Spriggs played 65. Spriggs missed one, too, causing the Bears to send in Alex Bars at left guard and shift left guard Rashaad Coward to right tackle.

Perfect attendance

The Bears are down to two players who have been in for every snap of the season on their side of the ball: left tackle Charles Leno and right guard Germain Ifedi.