316 Comments

Data Responds: Lions at Bears

| November 19th, 2017

Chicago’s offense had their best game of the year, but their defense played possibly their worst game of the year. All in all, that evened out, but the Bears ended up falling to 3-7 because their kicker is terrible.

Offense

  • Now that’s more like it. The offense was finally run like an NFL offense, mixing things up and keeping the defense off its feet, and unsurprisingly it led to good things happening. Chicago stayed run-heavy in the game, but mixed up how they were running instead of making it so predictable, and thus the run game really took off. As a result, the offense scored more than 17 points in regulation for the 1st time all year.
  • This also helped the passing game open up a bit as well, since the Bears didn’t routinely end up in 3rd and long. This was a nice change from how their offense has functioned most of the year.
  • Another nice wrinkle we saw on offense was a number of read-option looks for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. He kept it several times (though there was at least one more where he should have) and made Detroit’s defense pay for crashing down on the running backs.
  • After ignoring Tarik Cohen on offense for several weeks, the Bears made a point of getting him involved early and often. He had 8 carries and 3 pass targets in the 1st half alone after getting 8 total touches in the previous 3 games.
  • Another nice wrinkle was lining Jordan Howard up as a fullback, with Tarik Cohen at tailback. This set Howard up with a few nice runs as he could spring through the line quickly and the linebackers had to worry about Cohen.

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113 Comments

DaBearsPod Week 11 Featuring Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press [AUDIO]

| November 17th, 2017

On this episode of DaBearsPod:

  • Jeff discusses the unrest at Halas Hall following the Bears loss to the Packers (based on actual source information) and lays out the stakes for John Fox Sunday against Detroit.
  • Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free-Press picks up his daughter and explains why the Lions haven’t been able to run the ball since Barry Sanders retired. He also weighs in on two potential head coaching candidates currently on Lions staff: Jim Bob Cooter and Teryl Austin.
  • Reverend Dave has a friend who shot a guy.
  • Fox-related tunes! (Both good too.)

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170 Comments

Across The Middle: The Argument for Firing Fox

| November 15th, 2017

Forget clock management. Forget the stupid challenges. Most of all, forget the play calling. John Fox gave fans — and team management — the only ammunition they’ll ever need to fire him last Sunday. In a big game they had plenty of time to prepare for, his team was sloppy. That doesn’t happen to a good coach.

With the loss, the Bears dropped to 0-3 after their bye week under Fox with a point differential of -36. In two out of the three, the Bears went into the bye week with momentum and hopes of turning the season into something but fell flat on their faces.

Of course, Denver fans know the pain all to well. They saw Fox’s team get embarrassed after a week off before the Super Bowl in 2013. They also saw his teams get beat after first-round byes in 2012 and 2014, his last game with the team. In all, Fox is 5-6 after byes since 2011 and they’ve been outscored by 28 points.

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389 Comments

Packers Loss Should Effectively End the John Fox Era in Chicago

| November 13th, 2017

If Sunday’s horrendous performance against an undermanned Green Bay Packers, at home, in an empty stadium, didn’t seal John Fox’s fate with the Chicago Bears…what could? That is the question every single Bears fan can fairly ask this Monday morning. Because what happened at Soldier Field yesterday was inexcusable. The Bears, coming off the bye week, were out-coached and outplayed in all three phases of the game. And they were beaten by Brett Hundley.

The reasons to fire Fox all surfaced yesterday.

  • The Bears learned nothing from supposed bye week self-evaluation and ran into loaded boxes time and time again. (Oddly, when they didn’t, they hit for big plays. Who would have thought?) Even the color commentators don’t hide their disdain for the Bears offensive plan each week.
  • The Bears have no idea what to do with their talent, which has to infuriate GM Ryan Pace. This CAN’T be what he envisioned for Tarik Cohen. Two offensive touches? Two?!?!
  • Penalties, penalties, penalties. And not just flow of the game penalties. You can excuse a pass interference here or holding there. But the Bears commit pre-snap penalties that just don’t happen with good, well-coached teams.
  • Mismanagement. Why on earth would John Fox challenge the Benny Cunningham dive? Seriously. Why? Anybody who follows the league knew what had happened because it’s been happening in high profile games all season long. Hell, I was sitting in a bar and didn’t even need replay to proclaim it was a touchback. (I was actually yelling for Bears to hurry up and snap the next play.) Fox’s face after the ruling told the story: he had no clue that outcome was possible.
  • Scheme. The Bears are never smarter than the other guys. You never watch the Bears play, on either side of the ball, and think, “Wow, they are well-coached.” There is no excuse for a defense as talented as the Bears to perform how they performed yesterday. Detroit made Brett Hundley look unprofessional. Chicago made Brett Hundley look like Brett Favre.

There were positives in this game. Mitch Trubisky. Dontrelle Inman. Adam Shaheen made a big play. Connor Barth looked like a pro kicker. But the Bears aren’t in the business of moral victories any longer. John Fox and this coaching staff need to show their program and approach will yield results. And yesterday was a game they HAD to win. That’s not hyperbolic. That’s a fact.

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600 Comments

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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219 Comments

Across the Middle: 2018 Chicago Bears Coach Rankings

| November 9th, 2017

The Chicago Bears probably aren’t going to have a new coach in 2018. At least, not if they continue on their current pace.

Before the season I wrote that if the Bears won seven games, John Fox would be a lock to stay. Through eight games, they only have three wins, but have played the third-hardest schedule in the league, according to Football Outsiders. The last four games particularly have been really interesting.

It isn’t just that the Bears have gone 2-2. It’s that they really beat the crap out of one good team, should’ve won by a lot more against a mediocre team and were close to beating two of the best teams in the entire league.

It seems like the  majority of the fan base still isn’t happy. They don’t just want to win, they want to look good doing it. But that wouldn’t matter no matter who the coach is. Hell, a large percentage of those people want Jim Harbaugh, the master of the ugly wins, as the coach.

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182 Comments

DaBearsPod Week 10 Featuring Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times [AUDIO]

| November 8th, 2017

On this week’s EARLY episode:

  • We skip the monologue and get straight to a State of the Union phone conversation with Adam Jahns of the Sun-Times. He discusses all things Bears but with a major focus on John Fox’s status with the organization moving forward.
  • Reverend Dave complains about the broadcast teams assigned to the Bears, from Africa.
  • Seinfeld clips are inexplicably mixed in!

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183 Comments

Data Entry: Self-Scouting Chicago’s Play-Calling Tendencies

| November 7th, 2017

On to play-calling tendencies.

There have been many, many complaints voiced about Chicago’s offensive play-calling this year, especially since Mitchell Trubisky took over at quarterback. With that in mind, I’m going to look at trends by down and distance in those 4 games. All statistics come courtesy of the fantastic NFL play finder from Pro Football Reference.

1st down

This should surprise absolutely nobody, but the Bears have been comically imbalanced on 1st down since Mitchell Trubisky started playing. They’ve had 95 first downs and called runs on 68 of them, good for 72% of the time (if you look only at the 1st 3 quarters, when game situations don’t impact calls as much, those numbers change to 54 runs on 70 plays, running 77% of the time).

Despite the predictability, they’ve actually been fairly successful running on average, picking up 4.5 yards per attempt, though it’s worth noting that drops to 3.0 when you remove two Jordan Howard runs of 50+ yards. 12 of those runs (18%) have lost yardage, and 20 gained 1 yard or less (29%). This has left the Bears consistently behind the chains, a problem that we’ll see compound on 2nd and 3rd down.

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66 Comments

Midseason Marks: Head Coach & GM

| November 3rd, 2017

The DBB team is evaluating the entire organization at this well-placed, exactly midseason bye week. The catch? Each of us is limited to ONE SENTENCE for each position group. Today we move to the men in charge.


Head Coach

Jeff: The Bears are significantly improved from last season, and the coach deserves a bulk of the credit, but their inability to run a modern offense could be the thing that sees him unemployed in January.

Andrew: Huge flaws in game management and preparation, but the Bears have improved drastically from Week One and the rookie quarterback is showing progress weekly and realistically, what more can we ask for? 

Data: John Fox would be a Hall of Famer if his career had started 30 years earlier.

DBB Grade: C+


General Manager

Jeff: Pace is 75% of the way to building the Bears into a legitimate contender but he faces a pivotal off-season in 2018, including a decision on the head coach with massive ramifications.

Andrew: The defense is stacked and it’s hard to blame Ryan Pace for what has happened to his wide receivers but a few bad free agent signings gave come back to bite him.

Data: Ryan Pace has had his hits and misses as GM, but you have to give him credit for building a great young defense from scratch.

DBB Grade: B

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