Vic Fangio's protege has the D back to its old form so far.
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Sunday's win over the Las Vegas Raiders felt different than other road victories.
Perhaps it was the hordes of Bears fans in attendance who effectively took over Allegiant Stadium, or maybe Khalil Mack finally getting his revenge against his former (and now disgraced and unemployed) head coach.
Either way, there was something in that dry, desert air that even got head coach Matt Nagy's attention during the 20-9 triumph. The coach said this win was "one of the most special wins" he's been a part of since joining the Bears and pointed to the players for that reason.
The Bears showed up to play hard-nosed football on Sunday and we're seeing some new names start to rise in the Chicago Bears Stock Exchange.
Here's who is rising and falling in this week's report.
📈 Rising: RBs Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert
I can't separate these two players after what they both did on Sunday. Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert had some pretty big shoes to fill with starting running back David Montgomery out for the next month. They handled the pressure well, each seeing plenty of touches and moving the ball downfield with ease.
Williams had 16 carries for 64 yards and a touchdown, while Herbert went 18 for 75. Both backs averaged 4.0 yards per or more per carry and ensured a Bears win with key runs all throughout the day. Montgomery will still be missed, but the backfield is in good hands with "WillBert" pounding the rock.
📉 Falling: DE Mario Edwards Jr.
When you have one unsportsmanlike penalty in a game, you can usually forgive it as being in the heat of the moment. But two of them is cause for concern, especially when you're gifting the opponent 15 yards each time. Mario Edwards Jr. did just that against his former team, compiling two penalties that resulted in long first downs. Edwards got into it with an offensive lineman for his first penalty, then tossed running back Josh Jacobs after a tackle for his second. The latter call helped result in the Raiders only touchdown of the day.
Edwards is a very good role player on this defense, but he needs to compose himself. The Bears were fortunate his penalties didn't result in more points for the Raiders and that won't work against better opponents. If Akiem Hicks comes back, he could be in the doghouse for a bit.
📈 Rising: DC Sean Desai
There are many, many players on defense who deserve so much credit for their play over the last few weeks, but let's not forget about the man coordinating the whole thing. Sean Desai has really come into his own as of late and has the defense playing out of its mind. After a rough showing in week one, fans wondered if he was ready for the job. It turns out he just needed a little more time getting acclimated.
Desai's defense has held the Detroit Lions and now Las Vegas Raiders to 23 points combined over the last two weeks. He's showing exotic looks that we haven't seen since Vic Fangio was in town and he has the players playing inspired football. Seeing guys like Mack and Robert Quinn jumping for joy after a big sack warms the heart. We'll see how long Desai sticks here, though: With Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady waiting, he has some big tests coming up which will show just if this defense is for real or not.
📉 Falling: QB Andy Dalton
What a week for Andy Dalton. The veteran quarterback finally gets healthy and promptly loses his job to Justin Fields last Wednesday, ending his reign as "QB1." Though that infamous tweet will live forever, his time is done in favor of Fields.
But hey, Dalton will be back in the huddle if Fields ever misses time due to injury, right? Maybe not because the rookie quarterback is as tough as they come. Fields was hit all over the place and did briefly exit the game after hyperextending his knee in the second quarter. Suddenly, it was Dalton in the game ... for all of a couple plays. It seems as if Fields is indestructible and no amount of punishment can take him out. That leaves Dalton to just stand around and ponder.
📈 Rising: S Deon Bush
It feels like Deon Bush has been a member of the Bears secondary for a decade. It's actually been only five years, but that's still a long time for the former fourth-round pick. Though he's primarily been a reserve on a one-year deal, Bush has been seeing more time on defense with the injury to Tashaun Gipson over the last two weeks and he's showing he can be a starting safety in the NFL.
Bush put together another nice game on Sunday, coming on in relief of Gipson. He totaled a pair of tackles and a pass defended. He's known for his strong tackling and run support, but Bush has been extremely good in coverage as well. According to Windy City Gridiron's Jacob Infante, Bush is fourth among safeties in the NFL with a 45.5 completion percentage allowed. He's helping out anyway he can and could push Gipson for his spot soon enough.
📉 Falling: ILB Alec Ogletree
Though Alec Ogletree is still playing at a high level right now, he could be in for some reduced playing time. Linebacker Danny Trevathan made his season debut on Sunday after spending the start of the year on injured reserve. Trevathan didn't get the start over Ogletree and played just 10 snaps on the day, but you have to imagine he's going to see more playing time sooner rather than later. And the Bears aren't taking Roquan Smith off the field.
Ogletree will need to make it difficult on the coaching staff to keep him on the field. He played 35 snaps on Sunday, his fewest of the season but still had six tackles. I expect him to continue to start for the next week or two, but his resurgence could be coming to a close soon.
📈 Rising: TE Jesper Horsted
I've been very critical of the tight ends this year, but I have to give all of them props for how they showed up in the running game with their blocking on Sunday. Let's also give some shine to Jesper Horsted for catching Fields' first career touchdown. Horsted, active for the first time this season thanks to injuries at the position, caught just one pass and played two snaps, but he made the most of it. He battled a Raiders defender for the two-yard touchdown and showed he has quite the rapport with Fields.
Just like in the preseason, Fields fired the ball to Horsted while he was being covered. The former Princeton standout adjusted to make the catch, but the trust is clearly there between these two players. This is probably a pipe dream at this point, but I would love to see Horsted on the field much more over the next few weeks. He can be a dangerous weapon in the passing game.
📉 Falling: KR/PR Jakeem Grant
When Jakeem Grant was traded last week to the Bears from the Miami Dolphins, he admitted he didn't know anything about them other than how sensational Devin Hester was back in the day. So it was only natural for him to try and do his best Hester impression by taking out nearly every single kick or punt to try and make something happen.
Unfortunately, it didn't go too well.
Grant made some poor decisions that cost that Bears valuable field position at times, choosing to field certain punts and kicks that should have been touchbacks. The former Dolphin does have some impressive speed and I wouldn't be surprised to see him break loose for a touchdown return at some point. But he was too amped up and isn't making anyone feel great about surrendering a future sixth-round draft pick for him.