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Khalil Herbert Bears
NFL

Khalil Herbert Excels For Bears Every Chance He Gets

  • Jack McKessy
  • September 28, 2022
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Chicago Bears starting running back David Montgomery may have gone down with an ankle injury in Week 3, but the Bears have no reason to worry about their run game declining. Second-year running back Khalil Herbert has taken up the RB1 mantle seamlessly and run with it.

As Chicago’s passing game continues to flounder with quarterback Justin Fields off to a rough start in year two, their running backs have collectively been carrying the offense. Montgomery ran wild against the Packers in Week 2 with 122 rushing yards on 15 carries while Fields put up just 70 passing yards on 11 attempts. Montgomery went down in Week 3 against the Texans, but Herbert stepped right up and immediately excelled.

This isn’t new for Herbert, who had a quietly solid rookie season in Chicago that mostly saw him stuck in Montgomery’s—and sometimes Damien Williams’—shadow. When he did get the spotlight, he shined. The highlights of his first year were his 197 rushing yards on 37 carries combined in the two games he started his rookie year after Montgomery suffered a knee injury early in the year.

For a second straight year, Montgomery was hit with a lower-body injury early in the season, once again giving Herbert his chance to exert his dominance as the Bears’ featured back. Right away, he’s done just that.

Herbert was the leader of Chicago’s offense in Sunday’s victory with 157 yards and two touchdowns on just 20 carries. That production didn’t just lead all running backs and receivers for the Bears, it was also more yards than Fields had as a passer and rusher combined. The yardage and touchdowns both marked career-highs for Herbert, and his 7.85 yards per carry were the best in a game in which he had more than five carries.

The second-year back had all of his tools going in his dominant performance against Houston. His vision and patience were excellent behind his blockers up front; he consistently found gaps at the first and second levels that allowed him to take off on big runs.

Herbert paired that good vision with his great contact balance and ability to fight through would-be tacklers downfield. His first touchdown run on Sunday showed off exactly that as the Virginia Tech product saw one gap close on the inside, bounced to the outside to get past the line of scrimmage then cut back inside between a couple of good downfield blocks from the center and right tackle. After that, he bounced off a couple of Texans defenders’ tackle attempts and bulldozed through the back of guard Braxton Jones (and his good blocking) into the end zone.

Not to exaggerate the dire state of Chicago’s passing offense, but the Bears would not be in a position to win games without their rushing offense performing at the level it has so far this year. Montgomery had a monster performance against the Green Bay Packers that kept the Bears hanging around last week in what could have been a much closer game. And it was almost entirely thanks to Herbert’s showing in Week 3 that the Bears narrowly beat Houston at home.

Herbert deserves a lot of credit for stepping up when the Bears needed him most on Sunday. As Montgomery remains day-to-day with his ankle injury, the second-year back may need to continue carrying Chicago’s offense for at least one more week.

After seeing how the New York Giants, the Bears’ Week 4 opponent, were unable to stop Dallas’ rushing attack on Monday night, Herbert will likely get another chance to shine as the featured piece of Chicago’s offense if Montgomery is still out. Should he continue to dominate with the chances he’s given, it won’t make the Bears’ decision on Montgomery, a pending free agent, very difficult to make.

Herbert has proved himself to be everything the Bears could hope for in a lead back in limited chances so far. He could easily establish himself as an important part of their offense not only this year but in the years to come with more chances to shine this year.

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Jack McKessy