Making sense of Chicago Bears RB rotation

Chicago Bears - Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

When the Chicago Bears lost David Montgomery to the injured reserve many expected Damien Williams to jump right into his role. However, Bears fans knew that Khalil Herbert lingered, and when the team traded for Jakeem Grant to take Herbert off of kick return it became clear that Herbert had a role on offense.

However, even the Herbert supporters may have been surprised to see the role that Herbert churned out in his first week. Williams had the touchdown, but Herbert had more yards and carries than his veteran teammate.

PFF broke down the usage of these backs, and it does show a clear split. We also may be able to learn a bit more about when we will see each of them.

Snaps and Rushes

As noted, Herbert led the team not only in carries but overall snaps. He played 53% of the offensive snaps and saw 49% of the rushing work. Williams saw 48% of the snaps and 43% of the rushing share. It is slight, but to see it lean to the rookie is impressive.

Passing Game and Long Down and Distance

It appears as though Williams may be losing rushing work, but is getting his usage back in the passing game. Williams ran 37% of the offensive routes, while Herbert was in on just 26%. However, it is worth noting that Herbert blocked on 22% of his snaps, while Williams blocked on 14%. That would put Williams in on 51% of passes to 48% for Herbert, so the opposite of rushes where a slight lean goes to Williams.

The stronger lean goes to Williams on long down and distance. These are third and fourth down snaps with over seven yards when teams anticipate the pass. Williams had 75% of long down and distance snaps to 25% for Herbert. Herbert was mixed in, but Williams was trusted on those key downs.

Short Down and Distance and Inside the 5

Williams and Herbert had the same number of short down and distance snaps, which is snaps with less than three yards for a first. When they needed quick power to move the chains, both were trusted. However, Williams saw 67% of the work inside the 5 while Herbert was at 33%. They went to the veteran when the big goal-line carries were in play.

2-minute drill

The theme is starting to become that they liked Herbert more, but trusted Williams in high leverage spots such as near the goal line, or on third and long. That is true, but then the team went into the 2-minute drill and Herbert was the one seeing every snap. You would assume he had limited time in what is close to a hurry-up offense, but they trusted him here.

What to make of Chicago Bears running back split?

The prognostication should be looking good for Herbert. As noted, if it were not for goal-line carries, and third-down pass attempts, the usage would skew heavily to Herbert. On the other end, he did handle two-minute work, which may lead to more high leverage attempts next week.

Next. 3 trends that continued with Bill Lazor calling plays. dark

Williams was expected to see most of the work and his usage was cut in half while Herbert saw much more than expected. Considering Herbert performed, you could expect a split inside the five on and on third and long, and if that becomes the case, then Herbert is the guy to own in fantasy football.