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Tribune Sinks Deeper Into Irrelevance with OTA Coverage.

| June 4th, 2021

If ever wondered how the Chicago Tribune dropped to the worst coverage of the Chicago Bears in town, their reaction to the team’s first open Organized Team Activity is the answer.

If fans cared about anything from that practice it was the performance of Justin Fields vs. Andy Dalton. The Tribune‘s writers knew that, which is why they titled their 16-minute recap video “Justin Fields vs. Andy Dalton”. Then they spent the first six minutes spewing hot garbage about defensive players not showing up to the OTA practice. So much of what was said was complete and utter garbage, it’s hard to know where to start, but when they determined that this was evidence of some sort of horrendous team culture, it just was too much.

Early in the discussion, Dan Wiederer said the players not being there was “obviously an NFLPA-driven pushback on the addition of the 17th game on the schedule.”

Both noted that the Bears have typically had close to 100% attendance, but then Wiederer went into one of the worst rants you’ll ever hear.

“I just have a difficult time buying in to the notion that this is an organization filled with championship culture when the trophy case is void of championship trophies and there aren’t enough guys out there to justify this talk of championship-winning culture,” Wiederer said. “They can change our minds over time. But look, you are a football team that went 8-8 over the last two years.”

This would be the place for the facepalm emoji.

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ATM: In Case It Doesn’t Work Out at GM: Part II

| June 3rd, 2021

Yesterday I profiled five candidates to replace Ryan Pace, should this season not work out. Today, five more.


Joe Hortiz, Ravens Director of College Scouting

The latest in a long line of highly thought of Ravens executives. Hortiz has helped build a roster that has been among the best in the league annually.

The Ravens have had a completely different philosophy than the Bears, in that they’re usually trading back, but they’ve still been able to add quality talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

Like many before him, Hortiz just may want to stick in Baltimore where executive life seems to be pretty nice.


Champ Kelly, Bears Assistant Director of Player Personnel

Kelly is going to be a GM in the near future, so why not the Bears?

While Pace may lose his job, there seems to be a general consensus that the Bears have a lot of talent in their front office and Kelly is a big part of everything they do. To top it off, he has GM experience, though in a different league.

Kelly was a huge part of building the Denver Broncos Super Bowl teams with Peyton Manning. We never truly know what each person does in a front office, but Kelly is well-respected in league circles for his work with the Bears and Broncos.


Milt Hendrickson, Packers Director of Football Operations

While working with the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-18, Hendrickson developed a reputation in league circles as an offensive line guru, but that isn’t the only way he worked his way up to Brian Gutekunst’s right hand man in Green Bay.

Hendrickson and Gutekunst go back to coaching together at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, but had been separated since 2004 when both were with the Packers. Hendrickson learned from Ozzie Newsome and certainly could assemble a staff to help build the defense and the rest of the team.

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ATM: In Case It Doesn’t Work Out at GM: Part I

| June 2nd, 2021

The mood around the Chicago Bears has completely flipped since draft night, but we all know it can flip back rather quickly when the games begin. While it is common to say that drafting a quarterback gives a regime more time, recent history suggests that is no longer true. The Bears still need to show they’re heading in the right direction if Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are going to keep their jobs.

As of last week, Nagy still had the third-highest odds of not only being fired, but being the first coach fired. It is possible that Nagy would be fired and Pace would retain his job. (The LA Chargers have allowed Tom Telesco to hire his third coach and Rick Spielman is on his third with the Vikings. One drafted what seems like a star QB. The other gave a mediocrity millions.) But there has been some indication that Pace is no longer the top guy in the organization, with the Fields pick seeming to belong to Nagy. If you listen to Louis Riddick – and there is reason to do so – the coach and GM are at least on the same footing. That almost certainly means that if one is fired, they both are.

I’ve already written about replacing Pace but that was a lifetime ago. At that point, the primary focus was finding a quarterback. Assuming they have, the focus now shifts to building around Fields and learning to adjust.

With that, here are a ten of the top candidates to replace Pace should the Bears go that route. You’ll get five today. Five tomorrow. If you have better options, share them in the comments section below. 

Adam Peters, 49ers Assistant GM

Peters has been a top guy for three teams that have played in the Super Bowl; two in Denver and one in San Francisco. He was also an assistant with two Super Bowl champions in New England. At a certain point, you can’t ignore it when success follows someone.

What we saw in Denver and San Francisco were systems that put the quarterback in position to succeed. In Chicago he could have a franchise quarterback which would make life that much easier.

He’d likely want to bring in a coach from the Shanahan tree, since that’s where he has had success. If that’s true, we could see Mike McDaniel or Mike LaFleur be candidates.


Ed Dodds, Colts Assistant GM

Dodds might really be the brains behind the Colts operation and there’s reason to believe he was for the Seahawks previously. Perhaps the best help the Bears could give a true franchise quarterback is an elite defense and Dodds has done that in two separate spots.

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Examining Chicago’s Personnel Usage/Tendencies on Offense in 2020

| June 1st, 2021

Like I’ve done the last few seasons, I want to explore how the Bears deployed their skill position players on offense in 2020 to see if there are any trends or tells for which opposing defensive coordinators can look. These are tendencies Chicago’s coaches should be aware of and look to rectify in the future.

The table below shows changes in run percentage when skill position guys who played between 35-65% of the snaps were in the game vs. on the sideline.

  • On the high end, that excludes players who played more than 75% of snaps, because their “off-field” splits would be too small to consider. That was only Allen Robinson in 2020.
  • On the low end, that excludes players who played less than 25% of snaps, because they are often mainly in the game in specific situations, where a run or pass may be expected (i.e. the 4th WR in a 4 WR set for 3rd and long, or the 2nd TE in a short-yardage set). This excluded Demetrius Harris, Cordarrelle Patterson, and a host of other role players who played a few offensive snaps.

(Note: This data is pulled from the NFL Game Statistics and Information System, which includes sacks and QB scrambles as passing plays.)

A few thoughts:

  • David Montgomery had pretty even splits when he was on and off the field. Therefore I won’t look at him any further when I split the sample into different personnel packages below.
  • This is a change from 2019, when Montgomery’s presence on the field made a run much more likely, and is almost certainly due to Tarik Cohen’s injury. In Cohen’s limited 76 plays before getting hurt, the Bears only ran it 29% of the time. He clearly had the passing downs role, and Montgomery absorbed that when Cohen got hurt.
  • Everybody else has fairly significant changes in how frequently the offense runs when they are on the field vs. off of it, which warrants further exploration.

Different Personnel Groupings

I was curious how much the personnel groupings might influence these splits, so I looked at how frequently the Bears run the ball in different groupings. Generally, there are five skill position guys (WR, TE, RB) on the field for a given play, so I split the sample up by how many of them were wide receivers.

The more WR the Bears have on the field, the more likely they are to pass. That makes sense, but the significant difference in run frequency here means we’re going to have to look at each of these groups individually to see how players really impact the run/pass ratio when they are on the field.


3+ Wide Receivers

Let’s start with plays featuring 3 or more WRs, which means there are 2 total TE + RB. The most common setup here was 11 personnel, which features 1 RB, 1 TE, and 3 WR.

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