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Three Thoughts on the Bears Not Tagging Alshon Jeffery

| February 28th, 2017

A day has now been spent digesting the RapSheet report that the Bears will not be dropping the franchise tag on Alshon Jeffery for the second straight year. My thoughts:

  • Bold. The easy move for Pace would have been to overspend on a homegrown talent the fans love. The easy move would be to say, “We’ve got the cap space so why not?” But Pace doesn’t seem to be doing that. If he lets Jeffery walk, this will be the first truly bold move of of the Pace tenure because unlike letting Forte (age), Marshall (locker room) and Bennett (nuts) walk, the Bears can’t make an argument they’re better without Jeffery.
  • This is not an economic decision. This is an evaluative one. I’ve argued in this space – since the moment Kevin White was drafted – the Bears do not view Jeffery as a true number one receiver for a myriad of reasons. Work ethic. Passion. Preparation. It would be easy to slap Jeffery with the tag to ensure he’s in the fold for 2017. Why don’t the Bears want him in that fold?
  • Tweeted this yesterday and believe it strongly. If the Bears draft their future QB in April and don’t bring back Jeffery, 2017 will be a more difficult season to sit through than 2016.

Is the Jeffery era over? Sure seems that way.

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462 Comments

Four Thoughts on the Cutler Trade Leak

| February 22nd, 2017

Took the evening to sleep on Jeff Darlington’s news break that the Bears have opened discussions around the league about trading their starting quarterback of the last eight seasons. Here are three thoughts.

  • The last line of Darlington’s story is wrong: “Ultimately, the Bears have now proven willing to move on from Cutler without a replacement in place.” I don’t think this is the case at all. I believe Cutler’s fate in Chicago was sealed by Brian Hoyer’s efficiently unspectacular mid-season performances and if Hoyer had not gotten hurt, Cutler was never getting back on the field. The Bears are confident BH will be back (and probably starting in September) should they venture into the rookie pool for a QB.
  • 2010-2013 and 2015. Look at those seasons for Cutler. Production was not a problem. Injuries were. Much of the current Cutler hatred is wrapped up in the travesty that was the 2014 season. For some reason, Cutler is the only person who has paid a long-term price for a year where the Bears had an historically-awful defense and a head coach with his head 3 feet below water.
  • Best spot for Jay? Houston. Worst spot for Jay? The Jets. Where will he end up? I’m betting the latter.
  • This now guarantees the Bears will get someone young for the QB position. Does that mean first round? Second round? Third round? Jimmy Garoppolo? Who knows. But someone is coming into the building with the potential to be the future at the position.

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228 Comments

Sometimes There is Nothing to Say

| February 20th, 2017

It is Sunday night, 8:32 PM ET. There is a blank WordPress screen staring back from a $180 laptop, purposefully cheap because at some point an iced coffee or Guinness will be sprinting between keyboard buttons rendering it completely useless. Across from the screen sits a man, twenty pounds lighter than he was 35 days ago, blood steam devoid of alcohol, searching for something interesting to say about the Chicago Bears.

The Bears need a quarterback.

The Bears have a decision to make on Alshon Jeffery.

They Bears need professional contributors in their secondary.

Pass rush is always welcome.

Better edge blocking a plus.

Blah.

Blah.

Fucking.

Blah.

Many people have found DaBearsBlog for the first time in the last year. Our traffic has nearly tripled. So let me state this now as clearly as possible, specifically for you newbies. I’m never going to waste a second of your time just filling space. If something hasn’t actually happened or I don’t have an interesting opinion (at least in my own head) on something Bears-related, you’ll never see posts for the sake of posting.

I don’t care about clicks.

I don’t care about traffic.

Those numbers do one thing for me: allow me to gauge the interest level of the fans at particular times. This season, for example, our site traffic did not decline in December. This was a three-win team playing out the string in front of an empty Soldier Field but our day-to-day traffic remained consistent (and substantial).

What did this tell me? Keep writing. Stay in it. The fans are.

Things will start happening soon, the NFL calendar tells me. And when they do I’ll meet the fight in the OK Corral. Until then? Poll questions, pictures and links. (Or go to my Twitter feed where all I do is waste people’s time.)

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760 Comments

He’s It: Money No Reason for Bears Not to Tag Alshon Jeffery in 2017

| February 17th, 2017

Alshon Jeffery is a very good football player. A barstool drunk with Bushmills breath and 20/80 vision could tell you Alshon Jeffery is a very good football player. But NFL personnel people are paid duffels of ducats to decide whether a player is bad or okay, okay or good, good or very good, very good or great. They are paid to decipher where to slot a particular talent within the structure of the NFL’s rigid salary cap.

Is Jeffery a great player? That’s the question currently wallpapering the offices in Lake Forest. The more important question may be…does it matter?

From the one and only Adam L. Jahns of the Sun-Times:

“I think Alshon expects more,” Pace said during the Bears’ season-ending news conference Jan.  4. “I think he’s a good player. And that’s a big decision for us.”

But how good is he really?

It’s actually a complex question, considering that the Bears are rebuilding, that the team will have their third receivers coach in three years and that a new quarterback could be coming to town.

The better question might be: Do Jeffery’s talents transcend change?

He had mixed results last season with three quarterbacks. According to Pro Football Reference, Brian Hoyer’s passer rating of 83.3 when throwing to Jeffery was better than Cutler’s (74.3) and Matt Barkley’s (50.9).

On the other side, the argument can be made that the Bears desperately need Jeffery, especially with uncertainty surrounding Kevin White after his second surgery. (White and Jeffery share the same agent.)

Being pragmatic about this decision, there are three options.

  • TAG HIM. With the copious amount of cap space and Jay Cutler most likely coming off the books, Jeffery’s tag hit will be somewhere in the $17-18M range and give the Bears an opportunity to either (a) work out a long-term extensions or (b) use 2017 as a second evaluative year.
  • SIGN HIM. The Bears want to lock up Jeffery long-term but they are not going to pay him like he’s one of the five best receivers in the sport. Why? Because he’s not one of the five best receivers in the sport. And, from my reporting, it’s clear the organization is concerned about Jeffery’s work ethic, how that work ethic has influenced his health and what to make of the four-game suspension he served in 2016.
  • SAY GOODBYE. An old fashioned adios. Pretty simply stuff. Shake his hand, make sure his car is on-time to O’Hare and tell him that both Pat’s and Geno’s are overrated in Philly. (Let’s be honest, the whole concept of the Philly cheesesteak is wildly overrated. It’s fucking beef and cheese. I’ve had better versions of that combination in probably seven other cities. Stick cheese on a Mr. Beef in Chicago or a Chap’s Pit in Baltimore or…okay, enough.)

The latter two options come with significant risk.

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104 Comments

Data Returns: Statistically Profiling the Ideal Quarterback

| February 12th, 2017

This is the 2nd installment of a monthly offseason piece I’ll be doing here at DaBearsBlog, helping fill the content void of the long offseason. Each one will be a numbers-crunching look at something Bears related in which I attempt to earn the “Data” moniker so kindly bestowed on me by the comments section regulars and, more importantly, answer a Bears question that I’ve been wondering about. If you have anything you’d like me to look into, let me know in the comments or email me at woodjohnathan1@gmail.com and I’ll see what I can do. 


By all accounts, it seems the Bears will be acquiring the man they hope will be their quarterback of the future this offseason. Ryan Pace was spotted scouting pretty much all of the top quarterbacks in person throughout last fall, and his end of the season press conference was centered around a discussion of what he’ll be looking for in a franchise quarterback.

With that in mind, it would be wise for any Bears fan to pay close attention to the quarterbacks at the top of the draft this year. I started doing just that back in November, when I looked at quarterbacks drafted between 2011 and 2015 and found teams looking for a starter should focus on the top of round 1 or round 2 (http://bit.ly/2lhS3t0). Luckily for the Bears that fits either of their first two picks.

Building an Ideal QB Profile

Now I want to focus on what they should be looking for with one of those picks (thanks to DBB’s Andrew Dannehy for giving me this idea). Here’s how I went about doing that:

  • I looked at all 1st and 2nd round QBs drafted between 2011 and 2015 and compiled a bunch of data about their physical measurements, passing stats from their last year in college, and team success in college. The full list can be seen here: http://bit.ly/2kQ8v2L.
  • I split the QBs into guys who are established starters (Newton, Luck, Mariota, Winston, Tannehill, Bridgewater, Dalton, Carr), guys who might be starters going forward (Kaepernick, Garoppolo, Bortles), and everybody else.
  • I averaged the data together for each group and especially compared starters vs. everybody else (non-starters). 6 traits were identified that were significantly different.
  • For each trait, I sorted the quarterbacks from best to worst and looked for a “benchmark” value, which most of the starters hit and most of the non-starters missed. This always fell such that 5 or 6 of the 8 starters were above the benchmark; there was typically a significant dropoff after this point such that this was a logical cutoff.

Based on this, here’s the ideal profile I found to look for in a highly drafted QB coming out of college:

  • He should win at least 77% of his college starts (6/8 starters hit, 3/9 nonstarters)
  • He should win a conference title (6/8 starters hit, 4/9 nonstarters)
  • His final college season should feature at least 8.7 yards per passing attempt (5/8 starters hit, 3/9 nonstarters)
  • His final college season should feature a touchdown on at least 7.3% of his throws (6/8 starters hit, 3/9 nonstarters)
  • His final college season should feature a TD/INT ratio of at least 3.7:1 (6/8 starters hit, 2/9 nonstarters)
  • His final college season should feature a college passer rating of at least 166 (5/8 starters hit, 2/9 nonstarters)

There didn’t seem to be any difference in the physical profiles of the QBs based on their height, weight, or hand size at the Combine. The important part of the Combine for QBs is their interviews, but we don’t get that data. Ignore the measurables; they are basically irrelevant for QBs.

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