61 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Coaches

| October 31st, 2014

marc-trestman-1

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

This coaching staff, through eight games, has not been good. Here are the questions that should be asked when issuing a grade:

(1) Are they getting the most out of their offensive talent?

Absolutely not.

(2) Are they getting the most out of their defensive talent?

No, their deployment of linebackers has been misguided. There’s nothing they can do with the secondary.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

16 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Special Teams

| October 31st, 2014

Pat+O+Donnell+Chicago+Bears+v+Cleveland+Browns+CHwrqGENVQdl

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Special teams must be taken element for element…

  • Robbie Gould has been steady.
  • Pat O’Donnell has shown flashes of being a superior punter. He’s a rookie so growing pains are expected and he needs to develop his short-punting game. But that leg, especially late in the year at Soldier Field, will be a weapon for this organization.
  • Mistakes have been rampant and mistakes, like it or not, get pinned on the coaching staff. In the case of the Bears, mistakes are far more the product of a constantly, in-flux bottom of the roster. No play summarized the error-prone ways of these Joe D units more than the brilliant P.O.D. punt covered about three seconds too early and subsequently returned for a touchdown in Carolina. It was a flash of brilliance, a terrible mistake and ultimately a lack of attention to detail causing the club six points.
  • At some point is the coaching staff going to convince the kick returners to stop taking the ball out of the end zone? I would hazard a guess this season’s collection of useless kick return men have cost the Bears upwards of a 100 yards of field position.
  • Santonio Holmes’ greatest contribution to the season has been not fumbling punts.
  • Strangely enough the Bears kickoff return against average is top ten in the league. Their punt return against average is bottom ten.

Grade: C

Tagged: , , ,

48 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Linebackers & Secondary

| October 30th, 2014

NFL: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Shea McClellin had a breakout game and broke his hand in practice the following week.

Jon Bostic had a breakout game and his back decided it had enough.

Darryl Sharpton had a breakout game and has been relegated to situational defense since for some reason.

Lance Briggs can’t stay on the field. D.J. Williams is a useful if unspectacular player in the middle. Khaseem Greene struggles as the Bears can’t find a position for him and the sample size is far too small to evaluate Christian Jones.

The unit as a whole deserves credit for helping to improve last year’s porous run defense and some blame for their struggles in coverage. But when a team has found themselves starting their fourth, fifth and sixth linebackers in a game how fair an evaluation can one actually provide?

Grade: Incomplete

Note: The Bears won’t do this but they should go full youth movement at the position over the second half of the season. Sit D.J. Williams. Sit Lance Briggs. Find out what you have in a combination of Sharpton, Bostic, Jones. Move McClellin around and see where, if anywhere, he can be most productive. Bears have eight games to learn what they have at linebacker for the next several years. To misuse that time would be a terrible mistake.

Keep reading to learn how bad the secondary has been!

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

68 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: D-Line

| October 30th, 2014

dline

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

This is a tale of two units.

At defensive tackle the Bears have a pair of excellent starters. If Jay Ratliff did not miss time with a concussion who knows how productive a campaign he could be enjoying. But his performance in the first half against the Miami Dolphins was one of the most dominant I’ve seen by a defensive tackle in years. Stephen Paea has endured (and I’m sure it’s pained him) endless criticism on this page alone over the duration of his career but this year he’s been week-in and week-out the Bears most reliable and impacting defensive lineman.

It also seems Phil Emery found two solid tackles in the draft. Both Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton, when they’ve gotten on the field, have jumped off the screen and made plays. Are they going to be every down starters in the years to come? I wouldn’t bet against it.

Evidence the defensive tackles have been the Bears most improved unit? A year ago the Bears ranked 32nd in the league against the run allowing 161.4 yards per game. This year they are ranked 13th, allowing only 110.1 per. That is a massive turnaround and it sure can’t be credited to what’s happening behind them.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

60 Comments

Position-By-Position at the Bye: Offensive Line

| October 29th, 2014

kyle long

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Here is what we expected from the offensive line coming into the 2014 season: Bushrod, Slauson, Garza, Long, Mills. The sturdiness and dependability of these five men in 2013 was a key to the club’s offensive resurgence. Yes, Mills was a weaker link but Trestman and Kromer protected him brilliantly with a combination of actual tight ends and Even Britton lined up as a de facto tight end.

It is hard to judge this group on eight games of odd configurations. Bushrod missed time and was replaced by a player (Ola) with no business playing left tackle in the NFL. Slauson will have a lost season and is, in my opinion, the Bears best offensive lineman. Garza missed a ton and while the transition to de la Puente felt seamless, the Bears certainly missed his comfort and leadership along the line. Mills has continued to struggle but injury has not allowed the Bears to provide the protection of a year ago.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

104 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Pass Catchers

| October 29th, 2014

Chicago Bears v Green Bay Packers

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

The biggest issue with grading this group? Once Forte is taken out of the mix there are only three players who can even receive a grade.

  • Here are two statistics I think explain Brandon Marshall’s lack of productivity. (1) Last year Marshall caught passes over 61% of the times he was targeted. This year that number is ten points lower, slightly above 51%. (2) Last year year Marshall had 70 first downs. This year he has 24 through 8 games. Marshall almost single-handedly won the San Francisco game, making acrobatic catches on one leg, but outside of that evening he’s been shell of his dominant self. Is injury to blame? Perhaps. But he is playing and he must be evaluated based upon that play.
  • Alshon Jeffery has been the most misused wide receiver in the sport this year. Are the Bears really so out of ideas that they’ve decided to exclusively run Devin Hester’s playbook for Jeffery? You know, bubble screen, end around, bubble screen, bad button hook that gets inevitably dropped…etc. When Jeffery has been used to stretch opposing defenses vertically (Atlanta, Jets) the passing game has thrived. But it seems to be an element drifting slowly out of the playbook.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

144 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Running Back

| October 28th, 2014

Chicago Bears v Washington Redskins

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

Matt Forte

If the Chicago Bears were 5-3 instead of 3-5 there would be pronounced, serious support for Matt Forte as the league’s most valuable player. He’s second in the league in receptions. He’s got over 1,000 yards from scrimmage. He’s got 6 touchdowns. Most importantly he has put the Bears offense on his back. They are the twentieth ranked scoring offense in the league. Without him they would probably be dead last…by a wide margin.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

130 Comments

Position-by-Position at the Bye: Quarterback

| October 28th, 2014

cutty

The following is part of a series of position-by-position breakdowns at the halftime point of the 2014 season.

JAY CUTLER

The most controversial, frustrating and enigmatic player on the Bears roster has been controversial, frustrating an enigmatic. If one just looked at his numbers, one would be impressed as Cutler is well on-pace to record the greatest quarterbacking season in the history of the organization. (On pace stats are silly but Cutler’s would be 67.2%-almost 4,200 yards-34 touchdowns-16 interceptions-95.8 rating.) But he’s turned the ball over far too much, especially losing fumbles with poor ball security, and his interceptions at the ends of the Buffalo and Carolina games were crippling.

Worst of all is Cutler seems lost in the offense. The constant stream of useless flat routes don’t play to his strengths. The quick-drop, quick-release approach that defined Marc Trestman’s Raiders unit under Rich Gannon have been replaced by the all-too-common Cutler stands in the pocket for a few moments and flings the ball into coverage. And how many times has Cutler sent a pass into a space, expecting a receiver to be there and been intercepted? If it were not for the reliability of Matt Forte one would not be remiss to wonder if this offense would score any points at all.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

246 Comments

Wheels Officially Come Off: Bears Embarrass Themselves at Foxboro

| October 27th, 2014

It was infuriating to watch the Bears play the Dolphins a week ago. They lacked passion at Soldier Field that Sunday. They lacked guts. There is no more difficult experience for a sports fan than believing you – with a wing-sauce soaked beard and Guinness-foamed mustache – care more about the outcome of your team’s contest than the team itself. (This is the case far more often than fans know.)

There was nothing infuriating about yesterday’s embarrassment at Foxboro. It is impossible to be angry about a result so predictable. The Bears coaching staff was shown just how far they are from being able to compete mentally with the elite coaching staffs in the sport. The Bears players, especially their stars, were shown how stars are meant to perform on the grand stage of the NFL Sunday. The Bears general manager was forced to sit through another sixty minutes of his prized free agents, $15M of defensive end this season, donned their invisibility cloaks for the eighth consecutive week. Lamarr Houston removed his cloak just long enough to put the punctuation mark on this shambolic sentence.

The Bears right now are the most lethal combination in sports. They have star players not performing to their potential and a coaching staff unable to elevate the play of lesser talent. Calling them mediocre would be an insult to mediocrity.

Tagged: , ,

© Da' Bears Blog