Jeremy Langford Shines For Chicago Bears in Win


The Chicago Bears tallied another win and another fourth quarter comeback Monday night, as they rallied from a 16-7 deficit in the final stanza to register a 22-19 victory.

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There were more than a few bright spots for the Bears – and certainly plenty to be concerned about – but the star of the night for the Chicago Bears was rookie backup running back Jeremy Langford.

Though he didn’t start – second-year man Ka’Deem Carey got the nod, and played well in the first series but didn’t see much time after that – Langford emerged as the Bears’ best option while starter Matt Forte is out with a knee injury.

Langford collected one touchdown and 72 yards on 18 attempts, an average of four yards per carry, but more impressively had three catches for 70 yards on four targets, including a whopping 31-yarder on a leaping, diving grab in the first quarter. In the fourth quarter, on a crucial drive that ended in a one-yard Langford score, he snagged a short pass on a third-and-five and turned it into a 23-yard gain.

Nov 9, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; Chicago Bears running back Jeremy Langford (33) is defended by San Diego Chargers defensive end Ricardo Mathews (90) during the first quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The receptions were particularly good to see after Langford dropped the crucial third-down pass in the fourth quarter in last week’s game against the Vikings, forcing the Bears to punt, leading to the Vikes’ game-winning field goal.

But while his statistical showing was impressive, the plays that don’t show up in the box score were more surprising. Langford repeatedly picked up blitzes, giving quarterback Jay Cutler time to find open targets downfield. Rookies routinely struggle with blitz pick-up, but Langford looked like a seasoned veteran meeting linebackers and secondary blitzers in the backfield.

Yes, the Chargers’ defense is porous (26th overall, 23rd against the pass, 30th against the run), but Langford and the rest of the Bears’ offense looked very good Monday night. Cutler threw for 345 yards (two touchdowns, two turnovers) while spreading passes around to seven different receivers. Langford led Bears’ rushers with 72 yards, but Carey added 28 yards on seven carries and Antone Smith added 11 yards on one carry.

Total, the Bears’ running backs, in Forte’s absence, had 111 yards on 26 carries.

Nov 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) carries the ball as Minnesota Vikings free safety Harrison Smith (22) defends during the second half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

There hasn’t been a definitive timetable announced for when Forte will return from a knee injury, but it seems like he’ll miss at least one or two more games. The Bears need to continue leaning on Langford and Carey – I’d like to see more carries for the latter, who ran hard between the tackles Monday – to get a better sense of what they have in the two backs.

It’s really too early to address this with any seriousness – Langford’s only seen a high number of snaps in one game — but with Forte’s contract up, it’s imperative the Bears use Langford and Carey to determine whether the team can move forward next year with the two young backs or whether they want to bring Forte back.

Forte is a great running back; he’s better between the tackles than people realize, he’s the best pass-catching running back in the league, and he’s solid picking up the blitz. But he’s 29 and closing down on 30 years old; the clock is ticking on his career, as painful as that is to say.

And the Bears aren’t one or two players away from winning. They’re at least one – probably two – handfuls of players away from winning. If Langford and Carey can prove to be a good one-two punch for the Bears’ running game, the Bears can use the money they would have needed to sign Forte for another player on defense, or to upgrade the offensive line.

But like I said earlier, it’s only one game, and the Bears face two good defenses (St. Louis, Denver) in their next two games. If Langford shines against those two teams, then Forte’s future with the Bears beyond this season could really be in doubt.

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