5 Candidates with potential to breakout for the Chicago Bears in 2022

Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Khalil Herbert
Chicago Bears – Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears Breakout candidate No. 5: Khalil Herbert

Nobody is sure the direction the Bears will go at running back following this season. David Montgomery is at the end of a rookie contract, and giving running backs long-term extensions is heavily discouraged. But we also don’t know enough about Ryan Poles’ approach to know which way he is leaning. A strong season from second-year running back Khalil Herbert could make his decision much easier.

Don’t be fooled by the meager 4.2 yards per attempt, Herbert was very impressive as a rookie. When Montgomery missed time with a knee injury, Herbert filled in seamlessly and rushed for a total of 197 yards on 37 carries in back-to-back weeks against the Packers and Buccaneers. Much to the disappointment of fans, Herbert was nearly a nonfactor in the offense once Montgomery returned.

The biggest advantage Herbert has over Montgomery is speed. Herbert has a great short-yardage burst and is able to explode through gaps and break open big runs. This home run play threat isn’t a part of Montgomery’s game and could be especially valuable for what has been one of the most stagnant offenses in football ever since 2018. Montgomery may force more missed tackles, but his lack of speed makes it hard for him to have those missed tackles result in big runs. At the very least, I expect Luke Getsy to make an effort to work in both backs.

Where Herbert needs to improve 

To steal game reps from Montgomery, Herbert will need to improve as an all-around back. He recorded two drops on only 16 targets in 2021 and looked very unnatural running routes and catching passes. Given how valuable Montgomery is in this area, it’s crucial that Herbert improves here. This issue may not be entirely fixable, but just making the jump from a bad pass-catcher to an average one would be enough to buy Herbert more playing time.

Carry for carry, Herbert was a better rusher than Montgomery in 2021. However, rushing is only a part of a running back’s responsibilities in the modern NFL. How Herbert performs in 2022 will play a big role in whether or not the Bears look to extend Montgomery.