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Data Entry: Tracking Trubisky’s 2017 Growth Through “The Quarters Lens”

| January 16th, 2018

Former Bears coach Lovie Smith always talked about breaking the NFL season down into quarters, which splits a 16-game season into 4-game sample sizes. I’ve always thought that was a good way to look at it, as grouping four games together helps smooth some of the statistical noise of individual good or bad games.

With that in mind, I want to track Mitchell Trubisky’s rookie season through the quarters lens. Trubisky sat out the first quarter of the season, but took every offensive snap for each of the last three quarters. Let’s see how he progressed through those.


Usage

First, I want to point out that Trubisky was tasked with doing more in each quarter.

In his first 4 games, Trubisky had the ball in his hands on only 26.5 plays per game. Coaches tried to minimize what he had to do, which was why more plays featured handoffs and fewer featured him ending the play with a pass attempt, sack, or run.

In Trubisky’s 5th-8th games, that number increased to 34.3 plays per game, and it took another jump to 39.8 plays per game in the last four games.

For the 32 qualified passers in the NFL this year (224 or more pass attempts), the mean and median were both 38.2 pass attempts, meaning Trubisky was being given as much responsibility (in terms of plays per game) as an average quarterback by the end of the season. This clearly shows that coaches were willing to put more responsibility on Trubisky’s shoulders as the season wore on, which is a good sign.

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Data Responds: Bears vs. Packers

| November 12th, 2017

Chicago came out of the bye flat, acting like nobody actually wanted to play a football game against their biggest rival. Their terrible kicker was good, but nobody else really was. The only thing that kept this game somewhat close was the fact that Green Bay is terrible, but they still won fairly comfortably on the road.

Let’s break down this embarrassing effort.

Offense

  • The first drive was simply awful. After two weeks to prepare, they ran into a loaded box on 1st down and lost a yard. After a nice pass picked up a first down, they again ran into a stacked box and lost a yard. The next play was both an illegal formation and a hold, setting Chicago up in 2nd and 21. At that point, the drive was over thanks to a combination of poor play calling and dumb penalties.
  • Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually had a pretty good start to the game. He made good throws and got the ball to players in space. That changed as the game wore on and Green Bay dialed up the pressure. Trubisky got happy feet and starting pulling his eyes down from scanning the field too quickly. He also refused to throw the ball away, making him completely inept under any sort of pressure.
  • Green Bay’s five sacks weren’t all on the offensive line, but they were bad today too. Hroniss Grasu, making a start at center and shifting Cody Whitehair to right guard with Kyle Long out, was routinely pushed back into the backfield. The unit also picked up way too many penalties, with a nice mixture of pre-snap, during the play, and after the play mixed in.

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Week 10: Packers at Bears Game Preview

| November 10th, 2017

Where’s John Fox’s left hand?


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And it’s goddamn Packers Week!


A Thought on Pace & Fox

This has been an ongoing Twitter conversation, picked up by Jahns and I on the podcast midweek. But it’s worth restating what I know as the Bears embark upon the second half of their schedule.

  • Ryan Pace has no intention at this stage of firing John Fox at the end of the season, barring a collapse.
  • Pace and Fox have built this roster together. They are a team. And Pace is owning the struggles on offense.
  • Don’t forget about how the Mike Glennon Fiasco impacted this team.
    • The Bears never intended to play Mitch Trubisky in 2017. Never. They were willing to put him on the field once the playoffs were mathematically out of reach but their true intent was to keep him on the bench until 2018. (This, to me, is insane. But it is what it is.)
    • Because of that, Trubisky didn’t take a first-team rep in earnest until October. It is very rare for a rookie quarterback to be thrust into this position after four weeks and clearly Fox is not comfortable with it yet. Yes, it should be expected for them to “open it up” more in the second half but don’t expect this team to start throwing forty passes a game anytime soon. They don’t believe that’s the right approach for Trubisky at this stage.
    • For those who think Pace is “looking for his Sean McVay”…it’s just not that simple. The Bears have built a terrific defense and power run game. They’re not looking to drastically change their identity.
    • Pace likes Dowell Loggains. And if you read this terrific piece by Jahns, you’ll understand that what is being called currently on offense is coming from the head coach, not the offensive coordinator.
  • There are some “media” out there positing that wins/losses won’t matter for Fox down the stretch. That’s not just wrong, it’s insane. Fox’s job is to win games, not beauty pageants. And while Trubisky’s development is important it was never part of the 2017 plan. The Bears won 3 games a season ago. If they win 7 or 8 this year, the organization will view that as a significant improvement and Fox will face a make-or-break 2018.

Tweet of the Week


Three Reasons the Bears Win

  • Brett Hundley vs. Bears Defense. Mike McCarthy will script out Hundley’s first fifteen plays and the Packers will look decent. (This has happened in both of his starts.) But if they get behind the chains, Hundley is unable to recover because, well, he’s not good. He can be dangerous if the Bears let him extend plays outside the pocket or move the chains with his legs. But the Bears didn’t let Cam Newton do that. They’re going to be hustled by Hundley?
  • Leonard Floyd vs. RT Justin McCray. Floyd has five sacks in his last five games and will be facing a player in McCray he should dominate. This has all the makings of a 2 or 3 sack performance from Lloyd, who’ll be feeding off a fired-up Soldier Field faithful.

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