The Chicago Bears 2021 Season Awards

Bears awards
Spread the love

The 2021 season saw the Chicago Bears have their first losing season in four campaigns but that is putting a positive spin on what has been one of the most dysfunctional operations over that span. If we are to take the in-depth piece from The Athletic (subscription required), it is borderline impressive things stayed together enough to even get the six wins they finished with.

Still, there were some noteworthy performers and their value could be paramount for a team trying to identify the building blocks going forward. Last Word on Sports is taking a moment to identify those performers for each team and these are the players who shined in Chicago.

The Chicago Bears 2021 Season Team Awards

Most Valuable Player (and Comeback Player of the Year) – Robert Quinn

This was a tough choice between Robert Quinn and our next entrant. But anytime a player sets a new franchise record it is noteworthy. When it comes in a season like the Bears just had, that feat is amplified. That is the case with Quinn’s 18.5 sacks, breaking Richard Dent’s 37-year-old mark. 

What makes it even more special is that it came after he had just two sacks the entire 2020 season. It’s also not even a career-high for the 11-year veteran who also holds the Rams single-season franchise record with 19 sacks back in 2013.

He also had 17 tackles for loss and 22 quarterback hits.

Dent’s record-setting season came one year before the Bears won Super Bowl XX. The Bears have a long way to go before that but do have a defensive stalwart to hang their hats on.

Offensive Player of the Year – David Montgomery

David Montgomery has a legitimate argument for being the MVP of this team. Consider that he went over 1000 yards from scrimmage for the third time in his three-year career despite some of, if not the worst quarterback play (and coaching) in the NFL since he arrived as a third-round pick back in 2018.

He finished with 849 yards on the ground at a 3.8 yards per carry clip with seven touchdowns adding 301 yards on 42 receptions.

On top of the poor passing game, Montgomery played in just 13 games; the fewest of his career. He also had to split the workload in the backfield more than he has in previous years thanks to the emergence of another option.

Montgomery is entering the final year of his rookie deal and we know how the NFL treats backs.

Defensive Player of the Year – Roquan Smith

This could have been Quinn because of the record and such. But Roquan Smith has already been snubbed enough with him not making earning a Pro Bowl selection. He finished fifth in the NFL in total tackles (sixth in solo) and third among off-ball linebackers in tackles for loss with 12 adding three sacks and four quarterback hits for good measure.

Smith posted a career-low 3.6 percent missed tackle rate.

It is also a testament to Smith that he was able to make as many plays as he did with Akiem Hicks appearing in just nine games and Eddie Goldman looking like a shell of his former self through most of the season.

If there is a knock against him, it’s that he doesn’t turn the ball over a lot with just five interceptions and one credited forced fumble and recovery in his career.

Offensive Rookie of the Year – Khalil Herbert

Khalil Herbert edges out even Justin Fields for this honor as a sixth-round draft pick to a pleasant surprise as a fill-in for Mongtomery and even finding a role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield once the latter returned. He finished the season with 103 carries for 433 yards with two touchdowns and 14 catches for 96 yards.

During Montgomery’s absence, Herbert averaged 86 yards on 4.41 yards per tote and 4.89 yards per reception.

Herbert’s emergence took some of the sting of not having Tarik Cohen available for the second straight season. His effectiveness in both the running and passing attacks is what casts at least a bit of a shadow over Montgomery’s future with the Bears.

If nothing else, he gives the Bears a solid second option in the backfield and as a returner.

Defensive Rookie of the Year – Thomas Graham

This one feels a bit like cheating. Thomas Graham appeared in just four games each coming at the tail end of the season. That doesn’t matter though because he was easily the best option opposite Jaylon Johnson on the corner. He allowed 50 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed, best among Bears corners.

He also played the fewest games so that has to be taken with a grain of salt compared to the eye test.

Graham received a lot of buzz in training camp last season and, if given the chance, he will likely do the same this time around. For a team with a lot of holes to fill on its roster, the potential to have Graham be a solution is huge.

Most Improved Player – Darnell Mooney

Darnell Mooney is our final entry but he has an argument for MVP and Offensive Player of the Year. The second-year wideout ended the season with 1055 yards on 81 grabs with four scores. That’s over 400 yards and 20 catches better than his rookie season despite all of the instability under center and inconsistency on the sidelines.

After the Bears win over the New York Giants in Week 17, Mooney said that his tendency to be talkative in the locker room and ask a lot of questions led to having a connection with all of the Bears quarterbacks leading to the receiver’s consistency.

Former Bears coach Matt Nagy has described Mooney as “special”.

The Bears had better hope he can take it to another level next season as it appears they will lose Allen Robinson. If Mooney does get even better, that won’t matter.

Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images