Khalil Herbert is expected to ‘knock it forward’ in the absence of David Montgomery.
Khalil Herbert can keep going to ‘knock it forward’
The offense wants to ‘knock it forward,’ while the defense wants to push opponents back. It’s the mind – set that has performed the Bears to grind-it-out champions over San Francisco and Houston on their way to a 2-1 start.
In a 23-20 victory over the Houston Texans, Chicago embodied an old-school identity of ruthless running and blocking, going to result in the franchise’s largest single-game rushing output in 38 years (281 yards). Walter Payton given rise the Bears to at least 281 rushing yards against Dallas on September 30, 1984.
On Sunday, Khalil Herbert took over in the first quarter for an injured David Montgomery, who suffered knee and ankle injuries while in pass protection. With 157 yards and two touchdowns, he redefined the term “knock it forward.”
“I feel like he took that literally in his heart,” Bears right guard Teven Jenkins said. “He’s more determined now than he used to be. He’s running more downhill, more physical. I love seeing that from him.” The Bears have quickly moved for the second-most yards (560), third-most first downs (27) and second-most rushing yards after first contact (225) in the NFL through three games.
When Chicago implemented a new scheme during the offseason, it envisioned building a run game that could consistently sustain this level of production split among its stable of backs.
What the Bears didn’t expect was for their rushing strike to be forced to lead the crime due to early season struggles in the passing game. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Justin Fields has tried 45 passes in three weeks, the fewest by any team since 1982.
This season, the second-year quarterback’s 23.0 QBR ranks 31st out of 32 qualified quarterbacks. Missed throws, late turnovers, and a lack of consistency are just a few of the problems the Bears hope to solve with their young quarterback.
Herbert rushed for 7.9 yards per carry and had six feat runs of 10 yards or more against Houston, including a 52-yard scurry in the third quarter that set up his second touchdown.
Herbert and his teammates began to run to the side of the field after scoring to watch his big run on their tablets. He had never seen anything like the hole created by the entire offensive line pulling to the right.
“We could have drove a bus through there,” Herbert laughed.
It was evidence to a 5-foot-9 running back who does not consider his size to be a hindrance to the type of workload he can handle.
On his 20 rushes against Houston, Herbert averaged 5.2 yards before contact. While he handled with pain and swelling from the workload on Monday, he is prepared to deal with it again if Montgomery is unable to play against the New York Giants (1 p.m. ET Sunday, Fox).
That is the distinction between this season’s offense and the one he was a part of in 2021. When Montgomery was injured in Weeks 5-8 of last season, Herbert took on the role of a No. 1 back. When Montgomery returned, Herbert became an afterthought on offense, averaging no more than four yards per carry from Weeks 9 to 17.
That extension of his production risen, and the Bears believe it can be replicated in the future by relying on history to help carry this offense in Montgomery’s absence.
“You look at last year what he did — four games in a row, led the NFC in rushing,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “He’s done it. He’s a good player. I think he’s an exciting guy to watch.”
About Khalil Herbert
|No. 24 – Chicago Bears|
|Born:||April 21, 1998
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
|Height:||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|Weight:||212 lb (96 kg)|
|High school:||American Heritage (Plantation, Florida)|
|NFL Draft:||2021 / Round: 6 / Pick: 217|