129 Comments

Across The Middle: That’s More Like It

| October 18th, 2017

They did it. They finally did it. The Bears defense delivered a dominant performance; the kind of performance I’ve been begging for.

The Bears have a good defense. I don’t think that’s disputable. But they were far from great and really hadn’t shown any signs of that changing until last week. Their fine performances  always included major blemishes.

Not Sunday. Sunday they were terrific.

This is what we should expect. The Bears are in Year Three with a defensive head coach and a coordinator who came in with a sterling reputation. They’ve rebuilt the entire roster with players the coach and coordinator had a big role in picking out. They should be great and they had just been good until last week.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

294 Comments

Bears Fall to 1-4, Trubisky Debuts, Fox Flops: Rapid Fire Reaction to MNF

| October 10th, 2017

  • Let’s take Trubisky just on his execution and not on what those around him did. He displayed all the traits that excited Ryan Pace (and me) during the pre-draft period: athleticism, mobility, powerful arm, accuracy. He also tried to do too much several times and made a few mistakes. The interception was the glaring error but the throw that almost killed Markus Wheaton was just as misguided. The touchdown pass was more a physical mistake than a mental one.
  • One thing I liked about Tru’s performance: he ran to throw. He didn’t take off down the sideline when Bears receivers weren’t open. He threw the ball downfield and tried to let them make plays. When he’s got professional receivers out there, this will lead to big plays.
  • Worst performance from the offensive line this season, almost across the board. They were bullied at the point of attack and committed costly penalties.
  • Dion Simms, what the hell? He missed two blocks on pivotal runs and then ran short of the sticks/dropped the ball on a third-down play designed specifically for him. Explain to me why this guy is on the field over Zach Miller. Explain to me why getting Adam Shaheen experience in these games is not more valuable than wasting time on Simms. Money?
  • The fake punt and two-point conversion were spectacular calls. Those are the two positive things I will say about this coaching staff last night.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

332 Comments

Data Responds: Bears vs. Steelers

| September 24th, 2017

 

  • Bears win! It’s been so long I’ve forgotten what that looked like. Hell, I had forgotten what it looked like for them to have a lead, as this was the first game that happened at any point since the first half of week 15 last year.
  • Good teams find ways to win close games, and bad teams find ways to lose them. Despite trying their best to throw this one away with a litany of stupid plays, the Bears still found a way to win. Hopefully they can build off of this going forward.

Offense

  • We’ll start with the good and focus on all three running backs, starting with a monster day by sophomore Jordan Howard, who looked like his rookie self for the first time this year. He ran hard, was decisive, and finished runs with power. Holes were there better than they’ve been so far this year, but credit Howard for playing better as well to take advantage of it. Howard did have a 3rd quarter fumble (though on replay it looked like he was down) that let the Steelers back in the game, and he had to leave the game twice with his injured shoulder in the 2nd half. Still, he came back and finished the game in OT, and finished with 138 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Just for good measure, Howard also led the Bears with 26 receiving yards.
  • Tarik Cohen rebounded from a poor week 2 effort as well. He made a big play in the first half and a huge play in OT that jump-started the Bears’ offense and should have won the game (he was incorrectly ruled out of bounds, costing him a tochdown). His electricity showed up in limited touches (though 16 is still too many). Perhaps equally important, the Bears finally started using him properly. His small size means that he can’t sustain as many touches as he’s been getting, so this week they started using fakes to him to open things up for others. They ran him around on a fake reverse several times, and this helped open up the running game for Howard.
  • While we’re talking about running backs, Benny Cunningham was back from an ankle sprain today and made a few nice plays on 3rd down. Twice he caught checkdown passes way short of the sticks and turned them into a new set of downs for the Bears.
  • Now for the quarterback, which is a lot less fun to talk about: it’s been 3 weeks and 3 bad games for Mike Glennon, who completed 5 passes (none of them to wide receivers) on 8 pass attempts for 31 yards in the first half. Despite this incompetence, the Bears still held a ten point halftime lead; just imagine how good this team could be if their quarterback wasn’t completely terrible. It stunts their entire offense, from the play calling to the run game.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

379 Comments

Across The Middle: The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

| September 13th, 2017

If the Chicago Bears want to sell their fans on the current regime leading the team back to glory, they better start making progress. Because last Sunday was decisively not progress. It was more of the same.

With their top two receivers out and the decision to play a terrible quarterback made, the defense has to be the center of John Fox’s sales pitch to stay in the job. What I saw last Sunday was pretty much the same thing we’ve been seeing for the last two years.

  • They can’t get turnovers.
  • They can’t get off the field on third down.
  • They start slowly.

The third bullet point is the most frustrating.

We are now 33 games into the Fox/Fangio defense. Some facts:

  • 21 times they’ve given up scores on the first two possessions.
  • 16 of those have been touchdowns!
  • In 14 of those games, they gave up scores on the first possession itself.
  • 11 of those were touchdowns!

Those rates are absolutely insane. For two defensive minds as accomplished as Fox and Fangio, how is it possible that their teams are never prepared to start games? Here’s the kicker: in games they managed to fight off their opponents until the third offensive possession, the Bears are 6-6. That’s six of the nine wins of the Fox regime.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

215 Comments

Data Entry: Turning Over the Turnover Problem

| March 13th, 2017

This is the 3rd 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.


Chicago’s defense has significantly improved in the last two years from the disaster that was the Mel Tucker era, but there is one area where they have actually regressed: forcing turnovers.

Tucker’s defenses in 2013 and 2014 actually forced turnovers at a slightly-above average rate (Tucker can probably thank the leftover Lovie Smith-trained players for that), while Vic Fangio’s defenses have forced fewer turnovers in the last 2 years than any other NFL defense. In fact, 13 defenses have forced as many turnovers in one season (28) as the Bears’ defense has the last two seasons combined.

The problem was particularly pronounced last year, when the Bears forced a measly 11 turnovers, tied for the fewest by any defense in the NFL in the last 10 years.

Given the strong and well-established relationship between winning the turnover battle and winning football games, this is a real problem for Chicago. All of this research looks at turnover differential, not just turnovers forced. But forcing turnovers is half of turnover differential and it’s the part I want to focus on today. Avoiding turnovers is largely a product of your quarterback (and luck for fumbles/fumble recoveries). That’s a separate issue that has already been discussed on here at length.

Setting it up

Here’s my question: What is the history for teams the year after they have forced as few turnovers as the Bears have recently? Does the defense continue to struggle generating turnovers, or does it improve quickly?

Here’s how I approached the study:

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

106 Comments

Audibles From the Long Snapper: Salaam’s Passing, Fangio Rumors & More

| December 8th, 2016

You know you wanted it!

You know you missed it!

Here it comes!

The return of Audibles!

A Salaam Story

On April 22nd 1995, the day Rashaan Salaam was drafted by the Chicago Bears, I was playing Little League baseball in Kearny, New Jersey. For younger readers, the draft did not used to be a prime time affair. It was a two-day, all weekend long, NFL fanatic binge experience the likes of which the league has never duplicated. It was amazing.

There were four Bears fans in Kearny. Me. Anthony Aiello. Phil Caputo. John Cali. Yes, I grew up in a place that had a few Italians. It’s also the town where about 75% of The Sopranos was shot. (My mother did the real estate deal with HBO for the property that became Satriale’s.) Three of the four of us were at a place called Gunnell Oval – a large park area with six baseball fields – when Salaam became a Bear.

You know that scene in That Thing You Do! where the members of The Oneders run through the streets of town at the shear excitement of hearing their track on the radio? That’s what the Salaam pick was like in Kearny. We thought, none of us older than 17 at the time, this pick was going to change the franchise. We thought a Super Bowl was near.

It didn’t come to pass but I like to think I’m still that 13 year-old kid down the Oval, endlessly believing greatness is just one draft pick away.

Rashaan Salaam died of an apparent suicide at the age of forty-two. Our love goes out to his family and all the people in his life. Too many young men who’ve played this game we love have left the world too soon.

The Fangio Rumor

Mike Mulligan, not known to make shit up, shocked many Bears fans with a bit of a bombshell late Tuesday:

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

113 Comments

Match-ups That Matter: Eagles at Bears

| September 15th, 2016

screen-shot-2016-09-13-at-11-47-58-am

It’s hard to read too much into what the Eagles did to the Browns last week. The Browns are a triple-A franchise right now. But there was enough to digest in those sixty minutes. Which match-ups matter most Monday night?

VIC FANGIO V. CARSON WENTZ

It is the single biggest mismatch in the game.

  • In 2015, Carr got to 20, Osweiler got to 17 and Winston got to 21. Fox and Fangio’s defense managed to keep rookie/new starting quarterbacks in check, especially at Soldier Field.
  • The Bears have a lot of potential looks to show Wentz and many of those looks will be ones he’s never seen before. They can blitz from five different positions. Their outside linebackers are all capable of dropping into coverages. This is the kind of night where the Bears need Fox and Fangio to play chess and make the kid uncomfortable. Just lining up and playing ball, which is a lot of what they did in Houston, won’t work.
  • The Bears run defense found something in the second half against Houston. If the Eagles don’t make the down/distance easy for Wentz, he’ll struggle.

 WHITE & ROYAL V. EAGLES SECONDARY

Four thoughts:

  • I can’t imagine the Eagles coaching staff watching the Bears/Texans tape and having any thought other than, “we can’t let Alshon Jeffery beat us”. Expect Jim Schwartz to try and take Jeffery away all afternoon by pushing safeties in his direction.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

334 Comments

The Case Against the Green Bay Packers: Volume II (Jeff)

| August 5th, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 4.10.59 PM

The following is the fourth in a four-part series breaking down why the other teams in the NFC North won’t be contenders this season. (The Packers get two parts.)


The case against Green Bay will be made simply and directly. It will be made with two words and two words only.

Fox.

Fangio.

The Bears don’t have run of the mill defensive coaches. They don’t have defensive coaches that cling to an ideology or scheme, despite the relative successes or failures of that ideology/scheme. The Bears have coaches who believe the way you win on the defensive side of the ball is with talented players and toughness.

And for the first time, the Bears sideline has the better weapons.

Tagged: , ,

169 Comments

A Chip Shot From .500 (Rapid Fire)

| December 7th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 6.22.29 AM

This was the type of performance many expected from the Chicago Bears this season. Ugly. But did anyone expect the Bears could play a game this poorly and still be in position to win? Well, they should have won. Rapid fire…

  • Is it time to worry about Robbie Gould? It certainly could be. He didn’t just miss two short field goals that would have won this game. He dead shanked them both. The coachspeak approach will have fans yelling “Bears didn’t lose this game because of the missed field goals” but you know what? They did.
  • Welcome to the NFL, Eddie Goldman. That was a dominant performance.
  • When did Willie Young become the Bears most dominant edge rusher again?
  • Kyle Fuller is a special player when the play is in front of him.
  • No clue what Fox and Fangio thought the Niners offensive approach would be but they looked thoroughly unprepared for all the things I saw in amateur tape study early last week.
  • The point above may be unfair, mind you. A lot of that responsibility would have been on the linebackers and the guys in the middle have looked lost in coverage.
  • 36 yards is now an extra point! Robbie essentially missed an extra point to win a game. Inexcusable. Gould has been a good one but I hate kickers.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

© Da' Bears Blog