Chicago Bears: When was the last time the offense was this deep?
Have the Chicago Bears ever had this many weapons at its disposal?
Two weeks’ worth of dust has settled, and though an identity appears to be taking form, the Chicago Bears, in some ways, remain a difficult case study. They rank 21st in the NFL in points per game (22.0), and are probably two end zone completions away from Midwest writers drafting those “2021 NFL Draft: Prospects to Watch” articles in September. Above all else, though, two numbers stand out.
The 2-0 record, of course. Over the last two decades, the Bears have looked up to the Packers and Vikings in NFC North standings as though they were a father figure. But there’s a swagger that comes with an undefeated record.
And then there’s this new, early-season development: when was the last time the Bears had an offense? Sorry, that question cut short; when was the last time the Bears had an offense with this many reputable weapons? Through two weeks, the Bears have had 11 different players accrue at least one reception.
The only team with more active in that regard — the Denver Broncos — have become a living reincarnation of Muhsin Muhammad’s “where receivers go to die” prophesy, with Pro Bowler Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, and Tyrie Cleveland on injury reports.
Watching Matt Nagy and the Bears shuffle through so many options in the receiving game almost reminds me of one of those classic WWF Royal Rumble events, where everyone comes in and has their “moment.” Even if it’s just one moment, each Bears player has added at least a clip or two to their personal highlight reel.
As a case in point, in the 27-23 victory over the Lions, budding receiver Javon Wims had just a single completion. But could that lone completion — a one-yard touchdown to pull the deficit to three — have been any more important? Would Bobby Massie not be on your ballot for “most versatile offensive lineman” after coming up with a reactive, clutch four-yard snag on fourth down in Sunday’s game against the Giants?
The sum of the Chicago Bears’ parts on offense has been more interesting to watch than any one-man show. Be it a block by Demetrius Harris, Cole Kmet’s first catch, Jimmy Graham going vintage for a few plays, Cordarrelle Patterson’s versatility, the arrival of Darnell Mooney, or Anthony Miller’s clutch play, it’s difficult to remember a puzzle with this many pieces in the Windy City. All that, and we’ve yet to see a Ted Ginn catch.
And perhaps more than anything, it’s opened up what the often-maligned offense can do schematically. Chicago automatically becomes a grittier, nastier team now that they have multiple threats at tight end.
David Montgomery, for example, is reaping the benefits of “13 personnel,” one wide receiver, and three tight ends. Per Brad Biggs’ count, the Chicago Bears ran that personnel eight times against the Giants, and “12 personnel” 13 times, a development that Tarik Cohen has also benefited from, and Ryan Nall could benefit from in the future.
For reference, Montgomery had only one rushing attempt in “13 personnel” in all of 2019, according to The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. The result? Montgomery is averaging 100.5 scrimmage yards per game, which ranks No. 9 among running backs this season.
Trubisky and the Chicago Bears have run more under center, and as a result, Chicago’s line has become more physical. It also helps that Wims and Mooney rank among the top-10 in PFF’s run-blocking grade (86.0 and 74.6) in 112 combined snaps, and Allen Robinson isn’t far behind. One could say the Bears have been more top-heavy, in the Marshall-Jeffery-Forte-Bennett-Cutler days. But did this many players contribute to key plays?
If the team truly has aspirations beyond January, that’s a trend they have to hope doesn’t flutter. Over the last 40 years, 75.5 percent of teams to start 3-0 make the postseason, per Odds Shark. For that reason, there’s a ton at play for the Chicago Bears. Fortunately for them, they appear to have the proper depth to take advantage of it. With that, there’s only one thing left to say:
Extend Allen Robinson.