This stretch of games hasn't been like the 50-burger debacles we saw under Marc Trestman back in 2014, but things haven't been going well for the Chicago Bears over the last two weeks. They were shellacked 38-3 at the hands of Tom Brady and the Buccaneers and looked lifeless for much of the game. They've now dropped two games in a row.
Things could improve with a softer schedule coming up but with COVID-19 issues and lackluster play becoming a trend, it will be hard to trust this team. Here's where a few players stand in this week's edition of the Chicago Bears Stock Exchange.
📈 Rising: RB Khalil Herbert
Don't look now, but Khalil Herbert might be stealing some snaps from David Montgomery when he eventually returns from injury. The rookie back followed up his impressive debut against the Green Bay Packers with an even better performance vs. the Buccaneers. Facing the league's best run defense, Herbert broke 100 yards rushing for the first time in his career and was the first back to hit the century mark against the Bucs this season.
Herbert has shown a nice burst with great vision to hit the hole. He'll be a significant part of this offense for the rest of the season.
📉 Falling: Matt Nagy
It would take me an entire Bears game to go through everything wrong with Matt Nagy at this point so I'll try and keep this brief. His low stock sunk even lower after his team showed little signs of life on Sunday while channeling his inner Trestman with some bizarre postgame quotes. To add insult to injury, Nagy ended up on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday, which led to some very interesting remarks from his players.
While he's away, players such as Jason Peters and Allen Robinson spoke to the media and aired the dirty laundry. Peters gave injury updates on rookie linemen Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins and said Lachavious Simmons received no practice reps prior to his emergency start on Sunday. Robinson meanwhile let it be known he probably would be on a better page with Justin Fields had they been able to get more reps in training camp. Fields took just a few reps with the starting offense during that time.
With Nagy away, the players are speaking their minds a little bit more, something that could be the beginning of a fractured locker room. Things can only get worse if Nagy winds up missing this week's game only to watch the Bears blow out the San Francisco 49ers.
📈 Rising: S DeAndre Houston-Carson
DeAndre Houston-Carson (DHC) is past due for more playing time, but he still takes advantage of the opportunity when it's presented to him. Starting for an injured Tashaun Gipson, DHC played a fairly solid game in the secondary. He had 11 total tackles, one pass defended and also recovered a fumble.
DHC had a tough test on Sunday against the best quarterback of all time while covering two incredible receivers. He continues to impress in limited playing time and is making an argument to see time with the starters even when Gipson is healthy.
📉 Falling: C Sam Mustipher
Are we seeing the final days of the Sam Mustipher experiment? After coming on strong last season due to injuries, Mustipher has failed to take the next step in his development. He continues to get beat off the line and now is having issues snapping the ball. On one play, Mustipher actually rolls the ball to Fields, resulting in a failed play.
The former Notre Dame captain provided a spark to a dreadful offensive line last year but that magic is long gone. There hasn't been any indication that Mustipher is going to be benched, but it has to be on the table after his struggles have gone on for weeks. The production just isn't there.
📈 Rising: P Pat O'Donnell
You know things are bad when we're highlighting the punter. Pat O'Donnell has been getting plenty of work these last couple of weeks after stalled drives from the offense. He saved a touchdown on his first punt by knocking Tampa's returner out of bounds and continues to get kicks off despite increased pressure up front. The man formerly known as "Mega Punt" may not have the biggest leg as once thought, but he's been as steady as they come and it's about time we show some appreciation.
📉 Falling: DL Bilal Nichols
How many times do we need a reminder that punching a grown man in the head while he's wearing a helmet is one of the dumbest things you can do on a football field? Bilal Nichols was the latest player to fall for an opponent's trash talking and he paid the price. Nichols was ejected for punching Bucs center Ryan Jensen in the facemask in the third quarter. Nichols is the latest Bears player to be ejected in the last 365 days, joining former receivers Anthony Miller and Javon Wims.
Perhaps this is another knock against Nagy and his inability to get his players properly prepared. But Nichols still made a dumb decision. Thankfully, he won't be suspended for his actions.
📈 Rising: T Larry Borom
As Peters alluded to earlier, it appears Larry Borom is set to return to the Bears after suffering a high ankle injury in week one. Borom replaced Peters against the Rams briefly before getting injured and hasn't played since. The fifth-round rookie showed plenty of promise in the preseason at left tackle, but could see time on the right side with Germain Ifedi out with a knee injury and Elijah Wilkinson's status up in the air.
Bears coaches were very high on Borom and perhaps he can provide a jolt to the line. They could certainly use it.
📉 Falling: RB Damien Williams
The COVID-19 news has been pretty rough for the Bears these last few days, but they did see the return of Damien Williams for Sunday's game. The veteran running back was removed from the list and was ready to roll in Tampa. The problem was, he had lost his interim starting spot to Herbert and barely saw the field. Williams played just 11 snaps, rushing three times for five yards. Williams also caught one pass on the day as well.
Both his snaps and production were way down from his performance two weeks ago against the Las Vegas Raiders. Williams will still see some carries while Montgomery is out, but once he returns, he'll be relegated to RB3. It's going to be all Montgomery and Herbert going forward.