The Bears are still looking for their last-minute game-winning drive. Justin Fields once again played tough to keep the team in the game, and once again wasn’t able to come through at the end of the fourth quarter for a win. But the Bears 27-24 loss to the Falcons wasn’t all on him. He wasn’t the only big playmaker either. Here are the team’s biggest risers and fallers from Week 11.
VELUS JONES JR.
Jones Jr. was a healthy scratch the past two weeks, so just making it onto the active roster was a step forward for the third-round draft pick. He made an instant impact on the field to show his coaches that giving him another chance wasn’t a mistake. Jones Jr. took on kickoff return duties with Khalil Herbert on injured reserve, and reeled off a 55-yard return on his first opportunity of the afternoon. Jones Jr. made it back on the field on offense, too, but was used largely as a decoy. Luke Getsy used Jones Jr. as an eye-candy motion man on several Justin Fields rushes, including one Fields touchdown run. That was all for the rookie wide receiver, but it was still progress.
Montgomery entered the season as the Bears’ bellcow running back, but slowly started ceding carries to Khalil Herbert. Now with Herbert on IR, Montgomery was back leading the way in the backfield and finished the game as the team’s top playmaker not named Justin Fields. He carried the ball 17 times for 67 yards and a touchdown. Montgomery also led the team in receiving with three catches for 54 receiving yards. Most impressive was Montgomery’s ability to gain yards after contact, like we’re used to seeing. It routinely took several players to bring him down.
Coming into this week, Schofield had been the ideal backup guard for the Bears. He came in and did a good job replacing Cody Whitehair at left guard in Weeks 7 and 8. Then, when Teven Jenkins went down with a hip injury, Schofield switched sides, and once again played well at right guard in Week 10. Against the Falcons, Jenkins was healthy enough to be active for the game, but Schofield drew the start again. This week, Schofield let the offense down a couple of big plays. On a third down play, Schofield missed a handoff on a defensive line stunt and allowed a sack. That pushed the Bears out of field goal range. At the end of the first half, Schofield was called for a holding, and was still beat, allowing a Justin Fields hit. That pushed the Bears back, and Cairo Santos ended up missing a 56-yard FG attempt. Then, on the first play of the second half, Schofield was beat again for another Fields sack. Unless Jenkins suffers a setback with his hip injury at practice next week, Schofield’s days as a Bears starter are probably doneー until the next injury.
BEARS RECEIVERS NOT NAMED DARNELL MOONEY
The Bears have tried all season to find a consistent No. 2 wide receiver to produce alongside Darnell Mooney, and they’ll still be searching next week. New addition Chase Claypool still has yet to make a major catch in three games with the Bears. He’s been relegated to screen / short route work. Byron Pringle’s only job appears to be blocking. Velus Jones is still working his way back into the good graces of his coaches, clearly. Equanimeous St. Brown was good on one scramble drill, but otherwise didn’t make much of an impact, and Dante Pettis wasn’t targeted. The Bears will need someone to emerge as a true No. 2 for this passing offense to take the next step.
Too many times the Bears could’ve stopped a Falcons ball carrier, and too many times they let him slip through their hands for extra yards. Sometimes that resulted in an easier third down attempt and sometimes it resulted in a fresh set of downs. It wasn’t just one player either. Linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs alike missed tackles. The back breaker was a Jack Sanborn missed tackle on the Falcons final drive of the game. Sanborn had been excellent all game, but on a 3rd-and-1 Cordarrelle Patterson carry, he could’ve stopped Patterson five yards behind the line of scrimmage. That would've forced a punt or tough fourth down attempt. Instead Patterson was able to get back to the line of scrimmage and the Falcons converted a first down on the next play. That got the Falcons close enough for Younghoe Koo’s game-winning 53-yard field goal.
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