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Charting The Bears: 2016 In Review

| January 17th, 2017

Before the season began I decided to try to do something a little different by charting some of the things you don’t regularly see in box scores and the end result was some really interesting numbers that may change the way you feel about certain players.

The most time-consuming part of my weekly job on DBB was charting the little things that you don’t see. As most hardcore football fans know, completion percentage doesn’t always tell you if a quarterback is accurate, Pro Bowl voting doesn’t always tell you if an offensive lineman can block, sacks don’t always tell you if a player is getting pressure on the quarterback and interceptions don’t tell you if a guy can cover. There’s more to the game, a lot more and I tried to discover some of that here:

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DaBearsBlog On Vacation This Weekend

| January 13th, 2017

DaBearsBlog is celebrating a birthday in New Orleans this weekend. Should anything of note happen in Bearsland, I’ll be sure to put something up. Otherwise I will be spending my weekend on the 15th at English Turn, cozying up on the front corner stool at Napoleon House and gorging on Willie Mae’s fried chicken.


Picks for the weekend:

3-1 picking winners last weekend. But a miserable 1-3 ATS.

Falcons -4.5 over Seahawks

Patriots -15.5 over Texans

Chiefs -1.5 over Steelers

Packers +4.5 over Cowboys (Dallas 30, Packers 28)

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Finding A Quarterback: The Roster

| January 10th, 2017

When Ryan Pace was asked what he was looking for in a quarterback he might as well have said “not Jay Cutler.”

We’ve come a long way since last season’s season-ending press conference when Pace talked about building around Cutler. The best quarterback in the history of the franchise missed 11 games and was their least productive quarterback last season. Pace made it pretty clear that his days with the team are numbered.

When asked what attributes he looks for in a quarterback, the young Bears GM specified availability and ball security, Cutler’s two biggest weaknesses. Cutler was intercepted on 3.6 percent of his passes last year and his career average of 3.3 percent is worse than everyone on earth but Ryan Fitzpatrick. Cutler has also missed 23 games due to injury over the last six years. The fact that he missed so much time this season, with separate injuries, at 33 years old, doesn’t work in his favor.

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Scouting the National Championship: Allen, Williams, Watson

| January 9th, 2017

There are three players in tonight’s national title game between Clemson and Alabama worth paying special attention to from a Bears perspective.

Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama

By the time the draft arrives, Allen will be the consensus pick to the Bears…if he makes it that far. Daniel Jeremiah is in love with Allen, well-reported in his piece for NFL.com:

I reached out to five NFL personnel executives to find out who Allen reminds them of at the NFL level. Here’s a look at their responses.

Executive 1: Richard Seymour
“Allen isn’t as long or as tall as Seymour, but I see him as the same type of player. He’s very talented.”

Executive 2: Sheldon Richardson
“This is a tough one. He reminds me a little of Sheldon Richardson. Similar size. However, Richardson had more juice and Allen is stronger.”

Executive 3: Ndamukong Suh
“I haven’t come up with a great comparison for him. I do see some similarities to Suh when he was at Nebraska.”

Executive 4: Brandon Graham
“He is a really good player but I don’t view him the same as some of the top interior guys like (Geno) Atkins and (Aaron) Donald. He’s a tweener, similar to Brandon Graham when he was coming out of Michigan. Good player, not an elite player.”

Executive 5: Gerald McCoy
“He’s a tougher, grittier version of Gerald McCoy.”

Summary: That’s one vote apiece for Graham, McCoy, Richardson, Seymour and Suh.

Conclusion: I’ve struggled to come up with my own comparison for Allen. I compared him to Jurrell Casey after studying him this summer, but I no longer think it fits. He’s more powerful than Casey and I think he’s more versatile, too. In my opinion, he dominates college games similar to the way Suh dominated games at Nebraska. However, I think Suh had rare strength and power. I don’t put Allen in that class. I look forward to watching the rest of Allen’s season and hopefully I’ll be able to settle on a comparison with more time to study him leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft.

A defensive line of Allen, Goldman and Hicks in 2017 would make the Bears front an absolute force. Not the flashiest bunch by any means but strong, tough and borderline immovable.

Mike Williams, WR, Clemson

You know who Mike Williams reminds me of? Mike Williams. Seriously, can we stop with all these wide receivers named Mike Williams? It’s confusing.

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Wildcard Sunday Open Thread

| January 8th, 2017

Miami +10 over PITTSBURGH

28-13 Steelers late. Matt Moore brings the Dolphins down the field for a solid backdoor cover.

Steelers 28, Dolphins 20

New York +4.5 over GREEN BAY

Three reasons:

  • Green Bay’s win out has been wildly overrated. They are a few weeks removed from blowing a 17 point lead to Matt Barkley. Packers are here because the NFC North was an unmitigated disaster in 2016.
  • Not sure people realize how good this Giants secondary is. There’s not a pass catching threat on the Pack that will give them problems, as long as they don’t allow Rodgers to run around and buy time.
  • It’s the tournament. You’ve seen what Eli does in these games, right?

Giants 17, Packers 13

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Wildcard Saturday Open Thread

| January 7th, 2017

The Picks For Today

Oakland +4 over HOUSTON

You’ve heard the stat all week. Connor Cook is the first quarterback to make his first start in the postseason. And he’s doing so against one of the league’s best defenses. The gambler in me is screaming, “TAKE THE TEXANS!”

But I’m not doing it. Because I don’t think Brock Osweiler is any good and this seems like the perfect stage for him to formally end his Houston career. Not saying the Raiders win the game. Saying they keep it close.

Texans 16, Raiders 13

SEATTLE -7.5 over Detroit

Lions stink. And Devin Hester!

Seahawks 27, Lions 14

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421 Comments

DBB Weekend Show: All Adam Jahns Edition! [AUDIO]

| January 5th, 2017

ON THE WEEKEND SHOW!

  • Adam Jahns for a half hour, discussing what the postseason press conference means about the future of the Chicago Bears. Special focus on the quarterback position, Alshon Jeffery, Kyle Fuller, injuries to the 2015 draft and how to approach the secondary starting in March.
  • Picks for the Wildcard Round: Raiders +3.5, Seattle -8, Miami +10, New York +4.5.
  • Lots and lots of Shea McClellin talk!

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Across The Middle — It’s Finally Over

| January 5th, 2017

After the worst season in terms of total losses in franchise history, the Bears should have one mission this offseason: find a quarterback.

Two weeks ago, I cited John Fox’s record without Peyton Manning as a reason to fire him. Here’s the counter argument: Fox won almost 80 percent of games when he did have a franchise quarterback. I don’t know how much credit Fox deserves for his time with Manning (a former Broncos player once told me Manning ran the whole show), but I do know that a great quarterback changes everything.

Guys like Jack Del Rio and Mike Mularkey have job security solely because their teams have good, young quarterbacks. The Cowboys went from 4-12 to 13-3 largely because they upgraded from the likes of Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel to Dak Prescott. Mike McCarthy was getting fired two months ago but he’s now preparing for a playoff game because Aaron Rodgers put his team on his back.

It takes more than a great quarterback. The Colts continue to prove that. But the Bears have a good system in place and the kind of supporting cast that would be favorable for any quarterback to step into.

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“This Won’t Happen Again”: Pace & Fox Address Media

| January 4th, 2017

Ryan Pace and John Fox addressed the media today. The following are my thoughts:

  • Both Pace and Fox set the perfect tone for a 3-13 press conference. They acknowledged the injuries but made clear the results of the season were unacceptable.
  • Pace sure sounded like a GM zeroing on the quarterback position this offseason. Made very clear that his decisions at that position this offseason will greatly impact the future of the organization. As Pace said, “Everything is on the table”.
  • Bears only have 19 players on the roster from previous regime. That’s kind of amazing.
  • Alshon Jeffery discussion was tepid. Pace did not sound like a GM willing to commit major resources to a player whose production – though excusable – has plummeted.
  • “Ball security is critical” -John Fox. It was obvious from the head coach’s comments that he does not want a QB who throws the ball to the other team.
  • Pace was on the money with his evaluation of the Bears secondary. They need to add playmakers with better ball skills.
  • Pace is “not giving up on Kyle Fuller”. His commentary on Fuller was some of his most passionate. Fuller will be given every opportunity to compete for this team in 2017.
  • Fox’s way of saying injuries cracked me up: “consistency of games available”.
  • Pace believes Jonathan Bullard needed this year to learn to play defense a different way. He expects a leap next year.
  • Both coordinators are staying.

I really like Ryan Pace. But this is a massive offseason for the young GM.

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Five Things We Learned From the 2016 Season

| January 2nd, 2017

It’s so easy to look at the record, 3-13, and pronounce the Bears an awful team with no hope. But that simply isn’t what took place this season. The Bears were in year two of a rebuild, lost $60M worth of players to IR and played 6 of their 16 games with Matt Barkley at quarterback. Bill Belichick wasn’t getting this group to the postseason.

So what did we learn from this difficult campaign?

  • The Bears found their offensive identity. The 2017 Bears will be defined on offense by a bully interior of their offensive line and the best power back they’ve had in recent memory, Jordan Howard. Expect every decision made on that side of the ball this offseason to complement this approach. And don’t be surprised if the Bears look to add another back to the rotation who can provide more than a spell for their workhorse.
  • The team does not have one reliable player in their secondary. The Bears won’t come into next season with seven new guys in their secondary. They’ll continue to develop players like LeBlanc, Hall, Callahan, Amos and maybe even Bush and HJQ. But the team must make secondary the primary focus of the spring and add several – not one or two but several – valuable assets to this unit.
  • Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Leonard Floyd looks the part. Pernell McPhee should be healthy come September. But the Bears must add to their pass rush. Whether that means finding rushers for the defensive line or zeroing in on a top edge guy in the draft, the only way for this team to increase their turnover total is to increase the pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
  • Ryan Pace deserves our faith. Look at Pace’s additions this offseason: Sitton, Whitehair, Howard, Floyd, Freeman, Trevathan, Hicks, Massie. Every one of them a significant improvement. Hell, even Hoyer and Barkley kept the Bears competitive as backups. The Bears had their best offseason in terms of personnel additions in years. Now they face two huge questions this time around. Is Alshon going to be brought back? Who is playing quarterback? Pace deserves a chance to answer both.
  • John Fox may not. Fox will get 2017. But he will get no more excuses.

The arrow is pointed decidedly up. But just as one great offseason can move the organization in the right direction, a bad offseason can derail the train as quickly. The next five years of Bears football will be defined by what Ryan Pace does between now and Bourbonnais.

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