Bears vs. Jaguars — What to Watch 4

Bears center Sam Mustipher faces a stern test from Jaguars undrafted rookie nose tackle Doug Costin; Can Mitch Trubisky and the Bears’ offense keep their hot roll going?

SHARE Bears vs. Jaguars — What to Watch 4
merlin_94935261.jpg

The Bears have averaged 157.5 rushing yards per game and 5.6 yards per carry with 2019 undrafted rookie Sam Mustipher (67) starting at center the past three games.

David Berding/AP Photos

Key matchup

Bears center Sam Mustipher, a 2019 undrafted free agent from Notre Dame, has been a revelation since becoming the full-time starter against the Packers in Week 12. In four games with Mustipher at center, former center Cody Whitehair at left guard and ’19 undrafted free agent Alex Bars at right guard, the interior line has anchored a running attack that has averaged 157.5 yards and 5.6 yards per carry.

“He’s a leader, and he has extreme confidence in himself,” Bears coach Matt Nagy said of Mustipher. “You hear about the stories when he was at Notre Dame and running all these meetings with guys like Quenton Nelson [a two-time All-Pro with the Colts] and all these other players at Notre Dame. Go check out the touchdown run [against the Vikings] and watch Sam Mustipher’s celebration after the touchdown. It’s pretty neat, and that’s where we’re at right now.”

The Jaguars counter with a Cinderella story of their own in rookie nose tackle Doug Costin, an undrafted free agent from Miami who has been particularly impressive since replacing former first-round draft pick Taven Bryan as the starter in Week 9 against the Texans. Costin has been stout against the run and recently was ranked as the third-highest rookie defender in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.

Trending

The Bears, who ranked 31st in the NFL in scoring after Week 11, have been on an almost unprecedented offensive tear the last three weeks, scoring 30 points against the Lions, 34 against the Texans and 33 against the Vikings last week. It’s the first time the offense has produced 30 or more points in three consecutive games since 1995.

The Lions (32nd), Texans (24th) and Vikings (25th) all rank in the bottom 10 in the NFL in scoring defense. But so do the Jaguars (30th), which means the Bears have an opportunity to continue their offensive resurgence.

Player to watch

Though quarterback Mitch Trubisky has been the focal point of the Bears’ offensive surge, David Montgomery has been the most productive player.

In his last four games, the second-year running back is averaging 108.5 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry, with five touchdowns. The Jaguars rank 30th in the NFL in rushing defense and 24th in yards per carry.

X-factor

The Jaguars have lost 13 consecutive games and are in line for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 draft — presumably Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Coach Doug Marrone said he will be going all-out to win. The team has played close games against the Packers (losing 24-20), Browns (losing 27-15) and Vikings (losing 27-24 in overtime) but also have lost to the Titans 31-10 and Ravens 40-14 the last two weeks. So that can go either way.

The Latest
Brewery CEO Petteri Vanttinen described the new lager as having “a taste of security, with a hint of freedom.”
Hendriks not buying Donaldson’s “inside joke” explanation for calling teammate Tim Anderson “Jackie”
Jordan Jackson, 22, faces three counts of aggravated assault of a peace officer, one count of possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, Chicago police said.
Mr. Wiley started as a copy clerk in 1952, working from midnight to 8 a.m., and attending classes at Northwestern University during the day.
A man was wounded by a security guard during a shootout at Millennium Park.