Bear Down, Nerd Up: Aaron Rodgers remains dominant; Khalil Herbert carves out a role
The Bears held Green Bay's passing attack to its lowest output of the season on Sunday. Even so, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers overcame it.
By now, Bears fans are tired of hearing about Rodgers and the things he owns.
Green Bay's 169 net passing yards was its worst performance of the season, and it marked the Bears defense's best performance of the season against the pass. An astute observer might point out that the Bears' performance in the run game loomed larger than any success against the pass.
But the point still stands, if you limit a Rodgers team to 169 net passing yards, you have to find a way to win that game.
Here are the other numbers and notes that stood out in Week 6.
A little more on Rodgers: We don't need to delve too much into Rodgers' dominance against the Bears. It's all anyone has heard about the past week. But here are a couple nuggets I found interesting.
Since Justin Fields was born on March 5, 1999, the Bears have thrown for 463 passing touchdowns (including the playoffs), according to NFL.com. Since entering the NFL in 2005, Rodgers has thrown for 469. Here's to hoping Fields, who has thrown a grand total of two touchdowns, comes anywhere close to that number.
The Packers have won 9 of their last 10 games at Soldier Field. The 2018 meeting at Soldier Field is the one exception. Per Elias Sports Bureau, the only other team that has nine road wins against one particular opponent in the last decade is the New England Patriots' 9-2 mark at the New York Jets.
Run rookie, run: Bears running back Khalil Herbert has been quite effective in his two games since David Montgomery went down with a knee injury. Herbert on Sunday rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, and also accounted for two catches for 15 yards. This came a week after he ran for 75 yards on 18 carries against the Raiders.
Herbert was forced to be the No. 1 running back for the Bears after Damien Williams went on the reserve/COVID-19 list last week.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Herbert now ranks 11th in the NFL in "rush yards over expected." Next Gen Stats has a model that uses player-tracking data to determine what a running back would be expected to gain on a given play. You can read more about the model here.
Despite playing primarily at running back in only two games, Herbert ranks 11th in yards over expected with 39 more yards than he was expected to gain on his rushes. David Montgomery, who played the better part of four games, is right behind him with 38. Herbert is averaging nearly a full yard per carry more than expected (0.97 yards per run).
He has found more success running left, outside of left tackle Jason Peters, than any other direction. He has run for 94 of his 172 rushing yards running left.
Herbert ranks 15th among all running backs in Next Gen Stats' "efficiency" rating. Generally, a low number in this metric means a runner is running north-to-south. Herbert's 3.58 efficiency rating ranks right there among some of the league's top backs. Montgomery's 3.46 rating makes him only slightly more efficient running north-to-south.
Sacked again: Fields has surrendered 18 sacks this season, which is tied for second among quarterbacks. Only Tennessee's Ryan Tannehill (20) has more. A positive outlook would be to argue that the nine sacks in the Cleveland game skew this stat. A negative outlook would be to point out that Fields hardly played in Week 1 and only about half of Week 2.
Fields ranks below average in Next Gen Stats' "time to throw" metric. His 2.81-second average ranks 19th among 33 qualified quarterbacks. It's important to note that Next Gen Stats does not include plays that resulted in a sack among this metric. But it's not rocket science to suggest that holding onto the ball longer will result in more sacks.
Fields actually ranks ahead of most of his contemporaries in this metric. Jets rookie Zach Wilson (3.08) is dead last in this category. San Francisco rookie Trey Lance (3.12) would be last if he had enough passing attempts to qualify. Fields is ahead of Trevor Lawrence (2.9), but behind Mac Jones (2.64).
Scheme plays a big factor in this. Bill Belichick and the Patriots have made the offense quite simple for Jones and have built their game plan around Jones releasing the ball quickly.
The Bears did the same for Andy Dalton -- Dalton's mark (2.46 seconds) would tie for fifth among QBs, but he no longer has enough attempts to qualify -- but haven't had the same quick attack with Fields. That's partially because he's a rookie and partially because they changed their attack following the Cleveland game.
Roquan's roll: Bears linebacker Roquan Smith finished Sunday's game with 12 tackles. He has now had 21 career games with 10 or more tackles. Since 2000, Brian Urlacher (43) and Lance Briggs (34) are the only Bears players with more.
Dynamic duo: Only three teams have two players ranked inside the top 20 in sacks, and two of them reside in the NFC North. Khalil Mack (six sacks) and Robert Quinn (5.5) are the only teammates ranked in the top 10 together. Mack is tied for fifth and Quinn is just behind him, tied for ninth.
Minnesota's Danielle Hunter (six) and Everson Griffen (four) are tied for sixth and 16th, respectively. Arizona's Chandler Jones (five) and Markus Golden (four) are tied for 11th and 16th, respectively.