There are times when football is a complex game where the X’s and O’s are overwhelming.
But watching a revitalized Bears offense over the last few weeks isn’t one of them.
Chicago’s football team controls its playoff destiny over the final two weeks. And while outside factors have helped lead the Bears to this point, some internal improvements have provided a guiding light. Particularly on the offensive side of the ball, where a wave of factors have played into the unit’s newfound success.
Let’s briefly dive in.
Montgomery isn’t getting buzz as a Pro Bowl snub, but he should be:
PFF ranks Montgomery as its third-highest-graded running back behind all-world performer Derrick Henry and stud rusher Dalvin Cook. When you’re running well enough to be put into a category with those two guys, you’re doing something right. The best part is that it doesn’t take advanced analytics to show us that Montgomery is at the core of the offense’s improvement.
Montgomery is averaging 108.5 rushing yards per game over the last four games. He has flashed some playmaking skills as a receiver out of the backfield, too with 14 catches for 137 yards. Altogether, Montgomery has scored 6 touchdowns in four games. He is averaging 21 touches and 142 scrimmage yards per game. Montgomery is finally the focal point of the offense and it’s paying off.
Offensive Line as a Strength
One factor leading to Montgomery’s excellence is an offensive line that is playing its best ball of the year. Moreover, it might be the Bears’ best group among the players it has healthy. I hate the cliché of peaking at the right time, but it sure looks like this line is doing just that:
Over the last 6 weeks, Charles Leno Jr. @charleslenojr72 is the 5th highest-graded offensive tackle in the NFL
His 87.0 run blocking grade ranks 3rd among OTs pic.twitter.com/3eTCRBvjpH
— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) December 23, 2020
#Bears right guard Alex Bars hasn't allowed a pressure since Week 13 against the Lions
0 pressures on 65 pass blocking snaps against the Texans and Vikings pic.twitter.com/eg9kArOFzZ
— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) December 22, 2020
Sure, it would be better if the Bears were at full strength with James Daniels at guard. However, the interior trio of Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, and Alex Bars is doing work. That Bars hasn’t allowed a pressure since Week 13 is impressive. Remember when he allowed a pressure on his first professional snap? Bars has grown so much since that Buccaneers game. Talk about taking your opportunity and running with it.
And how about that Charles Leno Jr. stat? Being the fifth highest graded offensive tackle over the last six weeks is tremendous stuff. Overall, Leno’s 74.4 grade this season ranks 29th among PFF’s 82 qualifying tackles. In other words, slightly above average. Or to put it differently, he is a starting caliber offensive lineman in a league that I’m not convinced has enough of them. So let’s not take that for granted.
Play Action and the Rise of Mitchell
Improved offensive line play and a commitment to the run has allowed the Bears to play on Mitchell Trubisky’s greatest strength — play-action passing.
This is Football 101:
Textbook stuff from all parties. Coaches, blockers, skill position players … everyone!
The End Result is a Functional Offense
If you're looking for proof that the Shanahan/McVay style of offense can make almost ANY QB look good (*stares at Browns fans*), look no further than Chicago.
Matt Nagy has McVay-ized his offense and MITCH TRUBISKY has produced like a top-10 QB. https://t.co/oNUaqIE8YJ
— Steven Ruiz (@theStevenRuiz) December 23, 2020
The simplification of the Bears’ offense has kick-started what was an unlikely run at the postseason. Playing some sub-par competition in recent weeks has helped matters. And getting an assist from George Kittle and friends provided a boost, too. But even then, the Bears, themselves, needed to have rubber hit the road and get moving in the right direction. They’ve done that to this point. Now, to do it for two more weeks. If they can do that, then January football is a real thing that could happen. Buckle up.