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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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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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288 Comments

Audibles From the Long Snapper: Mitch, Mitch, Mitch & More!

| October 3rd, 2017

A Note on Mike Glennon

Despite the belief of many, I never had a dislike for Mike Glennon the person. I simply had no faith in Mike Glennon, NFL quarterback. And I am not in the business of sucking up to the Chicago Bears organization around here. They got their Glennon evaluation horribly wrong and I said that from the moment they inked the deal. Said it when many others were rushing to give them the benefit of the doubt. But I’m elated to never write about him again.


Tweet of Monday

There were several players in the defensive meeting rooms comparing what they saw from Trubisky in practice to what they were seeing from Glennon in games. They were incredulous at times. Didn’t add up. That’s how you lose a locker room.

Read all of Adam Jahns’ thoughts on the decision to start Trubisky HERE.


Around the League Thoughts

Watched a lot of football Sunday. Some thoughts:

  • Pats have allowed 42, 20, 33, 33 in four games. How did Belichick let this defense get so downright awful? Couldn’t they use Chandler Jones? Or Akiem Hicks? In the same way front offices are hurting the careers of Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, it’s remarkable how Tom Brady has bailed out Belichick’s evaluative missteps. Pats should probably have one win at this point.
  • There was a point during Houston v. Tennessee where I thought the NFL was changing before my eyes. Watson and Mariota were essentially playing a college game and damn was it exciting. Then Mariota got hurt. Why? Because the style they were playing is not sustainable in this league.
  • George Godsey and Bill O’Brien called a masterpiece for Deshaun Watson, catering the offensive game plan to what he does well. What I loved is how they used Watson’s running ability primarily down around the goal line, not out in the open field. Shorter runs in smaller spaces will limit the explosion in the hits he takes.
  • In a year it was thought the Jets would go 0-16 and draft their quarterback of the future, it’s a bit ironic that the Giants may scoop them and find Eli’s replacement.
  • I know why the Giants offense stinks. But why can’t they cover anybody?
  • Nick Folk can’t be the Bucs kicker next weekend. He almost single-footedly cost Tampa an easy win Sunday, leaving a touchdown of easy kicks on the table with dead shanks. If I were Tampa, I’d call the Niners and offer a mid-round draft pick for Robbie Gould. Bucs can win the NFC South. Why risk that with a shaky kicker?
  • Dallas can’t play defense.
  • Baltimore can’t play offense.
  • Not sure there’s ever been less athleticism on display at the quarterback position than Carson Palmer v. Brian Hoyer.

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Data Responds: Bears at Packers

| September 29th, 2017

Two road games, two blowout losses for the 2017 Bears. Green Bay won the first quarter 14-0 after a great opening drive, followed by a 3-yard touchdown after Mike Glennon turned it over on Chicago’s first offensive snap. Things stayed quiet until the end of the first quarter, when a 47 minute lightning delay led to what felt like the start of another game.

Of course, the Bears still had Mike Glennon in at quarterback, so nothing changed. He turned the ball over 3 more times and shut down the entire offense with his incompetence before racking up just enough garbage time stats to make his performance somewhat defensible if you squint (stop me if you’ve heard that before).

Coaching

  • We’re starting here tonight, beginning with the continued ineptitude making appropriate personnel decisions late in a blowout. With all the practice the Bears’ coaches have gotten in these situations in the last few years, you’d think they would be great at it by now, but they’re not. Down 28 points in the 4th quarter, the Bears rode Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, their two best offensive players, to a meaningless late touchdown. Zach Miller, their best tight end who has made a career out of going to IR, played while rookie Adam Shaheen sat on the bench. Why? This is literally a fireable offense if the team’s management cares about their personnel at all.

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209 Comments

Turn the Beat Around: A Trubisky Dinner, Kyle Long on the Move & More!

| May 23rd, 2017

The Chapel Hill Story

An excerpt from Dan Wiederer’s magnificent piece in the Trib:

As Pace does with all such get-to-know-you dinners, he asked Trubisky to pick the restaurant and make the reservation. It’s a minor request. But it often can be revealing of a player’s reliability.

Pace also ordered Trubisky to keep the meeting top secret, so as not to tip off anyone — not any Tar Heels coaches or teammates, not any other NFL execs or agents, not even a campus meter maid — to the Bears’ interest.

Trubisky took the directive and pieced things together.

Before Pace and his cohorts arrived on campus, the Bears GM had a text. Dinner at 7 p.m.

The venue: Bin 54, a top steakhouse in North Carolina’s Triangle region. And to keep the gathering covert, Trubisky made the reservation for six under an alias: James McMahon.

“I thought that was cool,” Pace says.

Read the entire article. It is the best work Dan has done since coming to Chicago.

Kyle Long on the Move?

Brad Biggs was first to report the Bears intend to shift Kyle Long from right to left guard, as one of the team’s few offensive stars rebounds from injuries. The positional move leaves little to be discussed. Right guard, left guard, who really gives a shit? But it was one paragraph in the piece that stood out to me:

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Match-Up That Matters: Bears at Bucs

| November 10th, 2016

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The Bears travel to Tampa for a match-up of two pretty evenly-matched teams. What will tell the tale?

Bears Rushing Attack

vs.

Tampa’s Poor Rush Defense

Three thoughts:

  • The Bears ran the ball with toughness and determination against a terrific Vikings defense with backup guards. From all reports, Josh Sitton and Kyle Long will return to the lineup Sunday. Long and Sitton aren’t just their two best offensive linemen. They are two of the best players on the team and leaders on the field. Their return should be worth 25+ additional yards.
  • Bucs are allowing more than 117 yards per game on the ground at 4.1 yards per carry. If Bears stay committed to the run,  and we know they will, they should have tremendous success on the ground.
  • Only one back in the league has a better yards per carry than Jordan Howard. (That would be the revelation that is Jay Ajayi in Miami. Reason #31 you don’t break the bank for CJ Anderson.) Howard isn’t going to beat a healthy Ezekiel Elliot for Rookie of the Year but I expect him to make a formidable argument over the second half of the season. That starts in Tampa.

If the Bears run it well, they win. I think they will…and do.

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260 Comments

Across The Middle — Week 6

| October 12th, 2016

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Well, now what?

The loss to the Colts may have been the most disappointing of the season to me because it ended any chance the Bears had of becoming relevant this season.

I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs but I expected the Bears to be relevant. I expected them to a be a team nobody wanted to play and I expected to see serious signs of growth. A win over Indianapolis would’ve put them at 2-3 with a  chance to go 3-3 next week before they played the Packers in a Thursday night game. At that point, anything would’ve been possible.

But they lost to the Colts, a bad team. Making the loss worse, they Colts are a bad team that was coming off of a trip to another country, while the Bears were coming off of their first win. It was a game the Bears had to win and didn’t.

There are still bright spots this season and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think the Bears have a very good GM and a lot of excellent young talent. They actually have a better record through Pace’s first 21 games than the Packers did with Ted Thompson. But that doesn’t make me feel better today.

There’s always next year, for most of us anyway. Depending on how the rest of this season goes, that could bring some very difficult questions.

The biggest question is the coach and there is no easy answer.

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333 Comments

Across The Middle – Week Four

| September 28th, 2016

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I’ve tried to calm myself down and think about the loss to the Cowboys logically. But I can’t help but come to the same conclusion I came to while watching the game: this team is suffering from coaching malpractice.

Any team missing their three best defensive players and starting quarterback is going to struggle. Add to the fact that those three defensive players were all playing in the front seven and they were going against the team with the best offensive line in the league and a blowout makes sense.

But I don’t give a shit about any of that.

The Bears should’ve been blown out several times last year, but they weren’t.

They weren’t because they fought.

They weren’t because they either had a sound game plan or adjusted well.

They weren’t because their coaching was a legitimate advantage.

That isn’t the case right now and I’m not sure what the answer is.

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Bears Need Improved OL Play to Reach Potential

| July 6th, 2016

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The Bears have plenty of weapons at the skill positions and a terrific quarterback, but their offense won’t take a big step if their offensive line isn’t better than it was a year ago.

On paper, the Bears line should be significantly better. They lost Matt Slauson, but Kyle Long moving back to guard, combined with Cody Whitehair or Ted Larsen have to be better than Vlad Ducasse and whoever else they played last year. At his worst Bobby Massie was as good as Long was at tackle last year and, over the last 10 games last year, he was actually pretty good. Charles Leno Jr. and Hroniss Grasu should be better with experience.

But outside of Long, who should be expected to return to his stellar form at guard, there’s the possibility it all goes the other way.

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Pace Has Magical Opening Week of Free Agency

| March 13th, 2016

Free agency success does not often equate to the field. Frequently the team making the largest cash splash in March lands with a deadened thump come September and beyond. But what Bears GM Ryan Pace has achieved in the first week of free agency is nothing short of a miracle.

Go through the league. Every team. And find the most improved position groups. Outside of the Giants defensive line, whose makeover cost about three hundred zillion dollars, one could argue the two most significantly upgraded positions in the NFL are on the Chicago Bears roster at inside linebacker and right guard.

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