2022 Week 3 Game Recap: Bears 23, Texans 20 (by Ross Jacobs) *UPDATED
You know that philosophical question about what happens if an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? Well this was two stoppable offenses meeting two movable object defenses and the answer is...nothing. Nobody wins. Both teams royally suck. Seriously, it's embarrassing how bad these two teams are. I'm glad they got a chance to play each other so that at least one of them could actually get a win this year. I bet between them they don't win 5 more games all year.
I don't even know how to summarize this mess. The Bears won the game but they were definitely the worse team here. They benefited from two fluky turnovers, both tipped passes from Mills that went straight to a defender, one in the endzone which prevented a Houston score and the second in the last minute of the game that gave Chicago the winning field goal. The only thing they had going for them here was a good run game with Khalil Herbert against the wet sheet of toilet paper Houston calls a run defense. Fortunately for the Bears they have a soft schedule overall and somehow already stumbled into a win against the 49ers in a tsunami. They are 2-1 by the grace of God and should finish with 3-4-5 wins. The defense isn't the absolute worst in the league but it's obviously not a good group.
Houston has two bright spots and not a whole lot else. This team is just so untalented top to bottom. There's hope here, maybe, but they are still a year away from being halfway decent and 2-3 years away from actually mattering...at best. Unfortunately, even if they bring in more talent they are still being coached by the ultra-conservative Lovie Smith and Pep Hamilton. Hopefully I don't need to tell you that's #notgood.
Fantasy Player Notes:
– So the big question coming out of this game is what to do about Khalil Herbert. How long is Montgomery out? How much of my FAAB do I blow on Herbert? Who the heck even is Herbert?
Herbert was a 6th round pick out of Virginia Tech last year after transferring from Kansas where he spent the previous four years toiling away on a terrible team. He lost his 2019 season to an injury after just 4 games just when he was finally starting to get things moving. At Virginia Tech he had a nice 1183 yards and 8 TDs with a phenomenal 7.6 ypc average.
He went mostly overlooked during the draft due to a mediocre combine and good but not eye-catching stats at Virginia Tech. Unfortunately you really need to play for Clemson or Ohio St or Alabama to actually be good at football...
Herbert is never going to wow you with incredible moves or off-the-charts athleticism. He's not that guy. But he is a technically sound runner with excellent vision, quick feet, toughness, and good hands for the passing game. He's just a good RB. How good? Good enough to be a starter in this league. He's as good as Montgomery and better than CEH for example. He can absolutely hold down the fort and do everything a team needs at that position.
However, I wouldn't say he's the kind of special talent you have to run out and acquire. He's not going to set the world on fire, certainly not on this awful team. Every time he gets a chance to carry the load he does so quite well, but a huge part of his monster game here was it came against the Texans. There's a reason that David Montgomery was the highest owned RB in DFS this week. Houston has, by every conceivable metric, the worst run defense in the league by a country mile. They have given up 177 yards rushing to the struggling Colts offense, 149 to an even worse Denver offense, and now 281 yards rushing to the Bears.
Herbert is fine but unless he's playing Houston every week (spoiler: he's not), do not for a minute expect this kind of outcome every week.
That brings us to the next point about this situation. Montgomery's injury is being called day-to-day by Eberflus. We don't have details on it yet other than it's knee/ankle related and the scans came back negative. If I was taking my best guess I'd say Montgomery probably doesn't play week 4 but should be back week 5 or 6 at the latest. That gives you 1-2 weeks of Herbert as the starter, playing against the Giants and maybe the Vikings. The Giants did give up a nice game to McCaffrey last week but week 1 they held Derrick Henry in check. Herbert should be a nice start regardless just because of the volume he'll get and the fact that the run game is the only thing working for Chicago.
If you can pick him up for free and use him for the week by all means go ahead. It's a solid enough matchup and he'll be the workhorse. The issue trying to get him on a one week rental in FAAB leagues is that someone else is likely to blow a good chunk of their budget on him without checking on Montgomery. They'll see a monster game from Herbert and just assume they are getting prime Le'Veon Bell for 12 more weeks. It's just not worth bidding that much and losing your entire budget on something that's probably a one-week payoff. It's always possible Montgomery's issue could be worse than what we're hearing but based on what we know right now I'd have to say Herbert is worth a small bid if you desperately need a quality start this week but definitely don't go crazy.
*UPDATE* Early reports were that David Montgomery's injury was relatively minor and he was considered day-to-day. Nothing solid has come out yet, but there is now speculation that it could be much more severe than previously thought.
The fear is the injury could be a combination of a high ankle sprain and/or a PCL sprain or tear. Any of those would be enough to knock him out for a month or more, especially the high ankle sprain which looks like the most likely scenario at this point. Getting put on IR is not out of the question. We will continue to monitor the situation but at this point my opinion is that Khalil Herbert should be considered a priority waiver wire add.
– One of the lone bright spots for Houston is their shiny new RB toy Dameon Pierce. For as great a game as Herbert had, I was more impressed with Pierce. That guy just runs so hard every single play. It's impossible not to like him. He didn't have half the blocking Herbert had (because the Bears run defense isn't a total joke like Houston's is) but he was ripping off 7 yard runs over and over. I have no idea how he ended with just 4 ypc.
After a slow start week 1 he's gotten more and more of the work each week. He reminds me of a cross between Marshawn Lynch (visually) and James Robinson, arms flailing all over the place, looking out of control, but the defense just can't bring him down. By the end of the game I was getting quite excited thinking he was ready to jump into the RB1-1.5 conversation and then he fumbled for the 2nd time that game and my worst fear was realized...they pulled him from the game and Rex Burkhead finished out the series.
I don't know what it is about NFL coaches and fumbling, especially rookies, but they just hate it. You're not allowed to drop the ball even with three 240 lb linebackers trying to drag you down or else you get benched, but QBs will throw stupid passes into triple coverage 2-3-4 times a game and nothing happens to them (coughJustinFieldscough). Maybe all will be forgotten by next week and Pierce will get his regular workload again, but I think the risk is there that they pull him back a little to “teach him a lesson.” Pierce is too good to leave on the bench for long, but do not underestimate the stupidity of coaches in this situation. We may have to wait a few games to get the full Pierce experience again.
– The other bright spot for Houston...Davis Mills. Yes, even off of a 2 interception game that they lost. The first time I noticed Mills and was impressed by him was when he got destroyed by Buffalo last year. Sometimes it takes a bad situation to see the good. In this case, both the interceptions were just flukes, both tipped passes that flew right to a defender. They just happened to come at really inopportune times. I've been a skeptic of RC's theory that Mills might be the best QB from the 2021 class but after this game...I'm starting to come around.
Mills was fine here. Not special...yet...but as RC pointed out he's working with crap around him. It's an issue he and I have discussed a lot this year in regards to several other QBs (that I won't mention even though they beat KC this week).
Context is everything in football. There's 21 other guys on the field with the QB and each of them has an effect on his performance. We tend to talk about these guys like they are alone out there, like everything that happens falls on their shoulders, but that's not the right way to think about it. Surround a guy with crap weapons and crap blocking and make him play a very good defense and he is going to look like crap no matter how good he is (Mayfield). Give a mediocre QB great weapons, great blocking, and let him play scrubs (every QB at Alabama) and he will look like a god.
When you look at the overall performance of the Houston passing game it's not very impressive, but if you just isolate on Mills and what he is doing right/wrong you'll see that he's really quite developed and playing well. He makes quick decisions, works through his progressions, sets his feet with good footwork, and fires the ball with a nice release and good velocity. He doesn't make a ton of terrible decisions. He doesn't hold the ball too long. He doesn't get overly aggressive. He's a really solid QB that just happens to play on a team with bad pass blocking and receivers that can't separate.
There's hope with Mills but I'm concerned. I don't like the coaching. I don't like the playbook. I don't like the receivers (outside of Cooks). He's got a lot working against him. Mills looks like he could be a Matt Ryan caliber QB but he needs help. He's not getting it this year which will hold him back for fantasy purposes, but maybe, maybe he'll get some help for 2023. If Caserio doesn't go trade or draft some more receiving talent this off-season then I'm out. If he does then this could be a shock turnaround team next year the way RC was hopeful for in 2022. As usual I think he was just a bit too early...but early is better than late.
– Speaking of the Houston WRs, they are a huge part of the struggles. Cooks is good and everyone knows that. He was double/triple covered a large chunk of this game. Chicago was looking for him on every play because they knew Mills was looking for him on every play...because nobody else is getting separation. For fantasy there's not much you can do but hold him and pray the connection starts working again. Cooks doesn't really have trade value with most people because he's so underrated to begin with.
I was a fan of Nico Collins coming out and you can see the ability but he's just not getting away from DBs. I'm starting to get worried he's the next Bryan Edwards.
Chris Moore was the 2nd best receiver for Houston here, but he's just a complimentary piece, not the type of guy that should be a #2.
– So much for the OJ Howard breakout. He was actually on the field the 2nd most snaps at TE behind starter Pharaoh Brown but Jordan Akins was much more involved in the passing game. They are all decent players but you can't use any of them for fantasy due to the rotation and lack of volume. Brevin Jordan could be back from his injury at some point and further muddy the waters.
– I can sum up the entire Bears receiving corps with one word: “nope.” If it wasn't already abundantly clear that you should run far, far away from this passing game, 106 total yards against the Texans horrid defense should convince you. Darnell Mooney is the only NFL level talent on this roster and he's literally triple covered constantly. It's the same issue Allen Robinson faced last year. When you're the only threat defenses can key on you and take you out.
I'm sure Mooney will get loose for a couple of bombs here or there, but Fields just isn't capable of making this work consistently. You can try to wait it out but I don't see things getting much better. If there's nothing better on waivers though you might as well just hold and pray.
– As far as Fields goes...I don't know what to tell you. Hopefully nobody in FFM land has him. I don't know why you would since we've been preaching against this since before he was drafted. The only hope for Fields in fantasy is if he starts running more often. Even that won't save him if he can't even muster 150 passing yards.
– Make it three weeks in a row for Jonathan Owens getting 10+ tackles. I did see him get juked out of his shoes a few times here, but for the most part quite capable. It's working for fantasy since everyone is going to run a lot against this defense. Play it until it stops I guess.
His running mate at safety, rookie Jalen Pitre, is just a baller like RC scouted. He's all over the place making tackles, blitzing, playing deep. The guy just has a nose for the ball. His two interceptions weren't anything special that he did, but it speaks to how he's always in the action.
Kamu Grugier-Hill had his 18 tackle outburst week 1 and looked like he was going to make a run at season tackle leader but only has 8 tackles combined in the two games since. No idea what his issue is but I'd avoid this until something changes.
Snap Counts of Interest:
51 = Cooks
40 = Collins
31 = Moore
13 = Dorsett
35 = Pierce
24 = Burkhead
48 = Brown
18 = Howard
17 = Akins
59 = Mooney
54 = St Brown
36 = Pettis
38 = Herbert
15 = Ebner
58 = Kmet