As the Chicago Bears enter their bye week to prepare for the final stanza of the season, we too can take a breath to see what can be salvaged in yet another lost season. Individual accolades are tough to come by on bad football teams. Pro Bowl and All-Pro selections do not often come for players toiling away on bad squads, but a couple of Chicago Bears do deserve recognition and might just etch their name in the franchise record books.
Let’s start with Montez Sweat. No, he’s not going to set a franchise record in half of a season, but he’s already up to 2.5 sacks in just four games played, 0.5 behind the team leader in Yannick Ngakoue. He’s managed to wake up the pass rush and should lead the team in sacks by season’s end if his first four games are any indication of what kind of value he brings. His arrival has also helped the Bears avoid setting a franchise low in sacks. The team is still last in the league in sacks per game this season, but Sweat has five more contests to try and pull the team out of the cellar.
We talked about TJ Edwards and tackles way back in September after his hot start. Tackles are an interesting record because the official stat didn’t start until 1994. However, Pro Football Reference will show a player’s unofficial tackles (reported inconsistently by teams, not the league) from 1993 and earlier if that player played in the 1994 season. So, for example, we have no number for Mike Singletary or Dick Butkus, but we do for Dante Jones in 1993. The way I see it, there are three different numbers to consider - Dante Jones 189 unofficial combined tackles in 1993, Roquan Smith’s official 163 combined tackles in 2021, and Brian Urlacher’s 117 solo tackles from 2002.
Edwards has racked up 127 combined tackles so far in his first season in Chicago. He is on pace for 180 combined tackles, which would shatter Roquan’s official record of 163 but fall short of the Dante Jones unofficial mark from 1993. For those more into the solo tackle mark, Edwards currently has 73, which would put him on a pace of 103, well short of Urlacher’s mark. With a healthy finish, the official combined tackles record looks like a safe bet.
Finally, let’s talk about DJ Moore. We covered Moore’s hot start back in early October as it was clear he was as good as advertised. Moore crossed the 1,000 yard receiving mark last week, which is not exactly a common achievement for the Chicago Bears. The Bears have never had the same receiver have three 1,000-yard receiving campaigns and the all-time career yardage leader, Johnny Morris, compiled 5,059, a pittance in the modern NFL. We’ll leave that for another time.
Moore needs 506 yards over the final five games to overtake Brandon Marshall’s single season record of 1,508. Moore’s game log shows a strong preference for Justin Fields as quarterback, averaging 106 yards in the seven games that Fields played from start to finish. That’s more than twice what he averaged during the Tyson Bagent starts and the first Minnesota game that Fields exited early with injury. That 106 yard pace with Fields would give him the single season record. This one should go down to Week 18 against the Packers.
Moore also has four 100 yard games on the season, all with Fields at the helm. If he can eclipse the century mark another four times in the final five games, he will claim a record currently shared by Harlon Hill, Jeff Graham, and Brandon Marshall all to himself. That would be quite a finish but I’m not betting against Moore.
Do you think Edwards and Moore break the records? What are you watching for in the final five games of the season?