The Bears played in their 18th game on Monday Night Football since 2010, which is tied for the most in that span with the New Orleans Saints and the New York Giants. The Bears are 12-6 in those games, but Monday’s loss to the Rams was not pretty.
The offense disappointed again, and it has everyone wondering if the 5-2 Bears are frauds.
We dive into the numbers in the latest edition of Bear Down, Nerd Up, our weekly stat breakdown and useless info department for the Chicago Bears.
Make no mistake, Darnell Mooney is WR2: Snap counts tell the story. Bears receiver Darnell Mooney totaled 51 snaps (81% of offensive plays), more than even Allen Robinson’s 50. Anthony Miller’s 37 snaps (59%) made him a distant third.
Nick Foles targeted Mooney seven times Monday night, more than any other player. Tight end Jimmy Graham had six targets. The downside was that a number of those targets for Mooney were simply not catchable. Mooney hauled in three catches for 40 yards.
Foles tried to find Mooney in the end zone on a ball that was tipped and intercepted by Rams safety Taylor Rapp.
“I was trying to fit it to the corner of the end zone to give Mooney a chance to make a play,” Foles said. “The defender made a nice play tipping it to his teammate.”
Despite two game-winning touchdowns this season, Miller is more and more looking like the third option behind the rookie Mooney.
Hekk of a night: After the win, the Rams reportedly gave a game ball to punter Johnny Hekker. In a masterful performance, Hekker pinned the Bears inside the 10-yard line five times Monday night.
Hekker pinned one punt at the 1-yard line and boomed another one 63 yards down to the Chicago 6-yard line.
Naturally, the Bears spent much of their night playing deep in their own territory. On the five Bears possessions immediately following Hekker’s five punts, the Bears totaled 61 net yards of offense, or 12.2 yards per possession.
The first three of those punts came when it was still a one-possession game in the first, second and third quarters, respectively. Following those three punts, the Bears responded with possessions of five yards, five yards and four yards for 14 net yards.
The last two punts came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand for the Rams. Foles and the Bears played with a sense of urgency, opening up the playbook even in their own end, and totaled 18 yards and 29 yards. Still not exactly long drives.
Hekker certainly earned his game ball. His performance vaulted him into the NFL lead with 16 punts inside the 20. He’s one ahead of Bears punter Pat O’Donnell and Seattle Seahawks punter Michael Dickson, both of whom have 15 punts inside the 20.
Leonard’s revenge: Former Bears outside linebacker Leonard Floyd’s two sacks Monday night nearly matched his season total from a year ago. In his final season in a Bears uniform in 2019, Floyd totaled three sacks.
In seven games with the Rams, Floyd now has four sacks. The Bears released the former first-round draft pick over the offseason and elected to sign veteran edge rusher Robert Quinn to a sizable contract to fill Floyd’s role.
Floyd and the Rams had a field day against an overmatched Bears offensive line. Per NFL Next Gen Stats, the Rams top four pass rushers were all better than average. Aaron Donald led the group with a 3.75-yard average separation from the QB at the time of the throw. Floyd turned in a 4-yard average (league average is 4.51 yards).
Donald recorded eight QB pressures (a 20.5% pressure rate), while Floyd had six QB pressures (16.7% rate), according to Next Gen Stats. Monday was Donald’s ninth game with eight or more QB pressures since Next Gen Stats began tracking such things in 2016. That’s four more such games than any other player. Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack has four such games, tied for a distant third-most in that time frame.
Primetime Mack: Speaking of Mack, in 11 primetime games with the Bears, Mack has 11 sacks, eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception returned for a touchdown. When the bright lights are on, Mack shows up to play. He had a strip sack Monday night that was recovered by the Rams, helping to force a punt (which naturally Hekker booted to the 1-yard line).
When Mack records a sack, the Bears are 15-5. His 63 sacks since the start of the 2015 season are third in the NFL in that span.
Touchdown Eddie: Safety Eddie Jackson’s fumble return for a touchdown was the sixth defensive touchdown of his career. Since Jackson entered the league in 2017, his six defensive touchdowns leads the NFL. His three fumble return touchdowns are tied for the most in the NFL since 2017 with Jadeveon Clowney.
Jackson also quietly led the Bears with nine tackles.
Mario’s world: Bears defensive end Mario Edwards had two more tackles for loss Monday night. Not bad for a guy who played 18 snaps. Edwards has three tackles for loss this season, including his first sack a week ago against the Carolina Panthers.
He has been another revelation for the Bears defensive line, which continues to churn out quality defensive linemen.