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Data Responds: Bears at Vikings

| December 31st, 2017

Sorry for the break the last few weeks. I haven’t been able to watch games live due to various holiday scheduling hijinks. Darn that real life for getting in the way!

Before we get into today’s game specifically, reports are that John Fox will be fired today. I won’t miss you as Chicago’s head coach.

In general, this game looked very much like a disinterested team playing out the string on the road for a soon-to-be-fired coaching staff against a hungry opponent playing to lock up a first round bye.

Offense

  • The Bears got the ball to start and opened with a heavy set Jordan Howard run into a stacked box for no gain. On their 2nd drive, they followed that up with a Jordan Howard run into a stacked box for -4 yards. Shockingly, both drives ended in 3 and outs. Oh how I am not going to miss that.
  • On Chicago’s 3rd drive, they threw the ball on 1st down! You’ll be surprised to find out that not being incredibly predictable actually worked. Of course, the Bears followed that up with a FB dive into a 9 man box on 3rd and 1 (why is Michael Burton still a thing?), which lost yardage and forced a punt. Before they could get the punt off, the Bears took a delay of game penalty, because of course.
  • Rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky had a bad rookie moment that resulted in a safety. Under pressure, he kept backing up until he was in the end zone, which was the mistake. He then threw the ball away to pick up an intentional grounding penalty, which is a safety in the end zone. My complaint is not with the grounding, but with the fact that he backed up into the end zone first. He could have taken the sack at the 3 yard line, and needs to know the field position situation there.
  • Trubisky also had a terrible throw in the fourth quarter where he missed a wide-open Dontrelle Inman because his feet were not properly set. Despite a clean pocket, he did something weird where he torqued his upper body, which caused him to put the ball far too wide and out of bounds. Those mechanical issues, and the corresponding accuracy concerns, have been a repeated problem this offseason, and are the #1 thing Trubisky needs to work on this offseason.

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Quantifying Devin Hester

| December 18th, 2017

Devin Hester officially announced his retirement this week, well after NFL teams had made it obvious that his career was over. My Twitter feed was instantly flooded with highlights and memories, and I hope you’ve taken a few moments in the last couple days to remember just how special Hester was. If not, here’s a quick refresher. Well, it’s not that quick, but that’s the point; Hester’s highlight reel is a long one.

Hester is without a doubt the greatest return man in NFL history. His 20 return touchdowns are the most ever. He had 3,786 punt return yards as a Bear, more than 1,000 more than the next highest returner, and his 14.3 yards per punt return led the NFL (minimum 50 attempts) by half a yard over that stretch.

But a common argument has been that Hester’s impact extended beyond his absurd return statistics because teams prioritized kicking away from him, giving the Bears better field position. Using the terrific Game Play Finder from Pro Football Reference, I attempted to see if that actually happened. Special thanks to the wonderful Andrew Link for helping me think through how to do this.

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Around the League Tweets – April 16th 2014!

| April 16th, 2014

ATL Tweets

Around the League Tweets, Winner of 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Around the League Commentary in 140 Characters Spread Out Over 10 Installments!

1 of 10. Aldon Smith needs to find a rehab for being a fucking idiot.

2 of 10. Only 3 games on NFL schedule are easy to guess: week 17 match ups, CBS Thanksgiving game, opening night. Good luck w/ Rams contest.

3 of 10. How much you wanna bet the NFL exec who called Clowney lazy & spoiled works for the Rams? Or the teams with the third pick. Or fourth.

4 of 10. Did someone actually criticize the Jets for pulling out of Draft Day with Kevin Costner? Maybe they just read the script?

5 of 10. Would Donald Trump change the Buffalo Bills to the Trump National Bills at Buffalo? (He is poison, NFL. Pure poison. See: golf.)

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691 Comments

Three Thoughts as Free Agency Slows Down…

| March 21st, 2014

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If you follow DaBearsBlog on Twitter, you know that I’m going to win a billion dollars soon. So…I got that going for me. Which is nice. In the meantime I’ll continue living my life among the not-so-rich.

Three thoughts…

  1. Everyone spent a month telling me that Lovie Smith was going to purge the Bears roster of all their talented players. Everyone spent a month telling me the allure of Lovie Smith would be too great for them. Corey Wootton. Minnesota. Henry Melton. Dallas. Julius Peppers. Green Bay. Charles Tillman. Home. Devin Hester. Atlanta. Major Wright. Mutual of Omaha. The only player Lovie pulled off the Bears roster was a man who owes his career renaissance to the man replacing Lovie. Is that ironic? It might be. I’m actually not sure.
  2. I don’t understand fan reaction to players leaving their favorite team. There is no reason to root against Josh McCown or Devin Hester or Henry Melton now that they’re no longer a Chicago Bear. If there was no salary cap, all of these men would remain in the navy blue and orange for years to come but running a modern organization is about making difficult decisions without the luxury of sentiment. I hope Devin Hester breaks the record Week One for Atlanta, as long as the Bears don’t open the season there. Because nobody will remember him returning kicks for the Falcons. They’ll remember him returning kicks on the Drive.
  3. A majority of the Tweets and emails I receive ask one question, “Who do you see the Bears drafting with the fourteenth pick?” Here is my answer: I don’t know. But one thing I truly believe is that no position on the defensive side of the ball is off the table. Yes there are pressing needs at DT and safety but if Emery identifies a potentially game-changing pass rusher, he’s taking him. If he identifies a potential shutdown corner, he’s taking him. I don’t think any of the moves made in free agency actually influence the draft approach, despite what Emery said in his press conference. As a matter of fact, I think Emery’s press conference statement that free agency will clue the media in to his draft approach is an old fashioned, transparent smokescreen.

Enjoy the weekend, poor people.

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197 Comments

A Few Questions to Ponder as Bears Prepare for a Pivotal Offseason

| January 15th, 2014

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I don’t really have a coherent column in my mind right so I decided to just lay out some Bears-related questions on my mind. Feel free to provide your own answers in the comments sections or by email: jeff@dabearsblog.com.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Statistics, Barnwell on “That Play” & Tasering Wives

| November 7th, 2013

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PFF SAYS SHEA PLAYED POORLY

Some guy named Pete who has been anointed over at PFF Tweeted the following:

Shea McClellin: 2nd-worst @PFF grade of any 4-3 DE in Wk 9. But 2 loud sacks, so naturally NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

PFF attempts to qualify the performance of a player over the course of an entire game and thus weighs a run stop on 2nd and 3 in the first quarter equally to a run stop on 3rd and 1 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. This is essentially what the baseball metrics folks do. They believe players play to their numbers.

But football is a situational sport. If your analytics tell you Shea McClellin played poorly Monday night, you have to acknowledge in the text of that piece the limitations of your analytics.

I responded via Twitter:

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