134 Comments

2019 Chicago Bears Off-Season Agenda: Part Three, Get the Quarterback Better

| February 8th, 2019

Personnel moves are not going to tell the story of the 2019 Bears. They could improve their roster this off-season, be a better team than they were in 2018 and STILL win fewer than twelve games. No, with lofty expectations for the coming year, everything will depend upon the improved play of their starting quarterback, Mitch Trubisky.

Here’s what Matt Nagy had to say about Trubisky’s progression into 2019 at the year-end press conference [Cut to 16:30]:



According to Nagy, his young QB has already conquered the “next play mentality” and “the steps of 101 progressions.” In layman’s terms, Trubisky knows what he is doing when it comes to running the offense. But it’s understanding what the opposing defense is up to that comes next, or as Nagy puts it, “recognizing pre-snap what he’s about to see from these defenses.” At quarterback, if you know what your 11 are doing, and you know what their 11 are doing, it just comes down to making the plays.

And Trubisky can make ALL the plays.

Look no further than those final drives against the Eagles. Season on the line. Avoiding the rush. Hitting targets deep down the field with pin-point accuracy. Every completion was met with elation from the crowd. Everyone in that building felt something was changing because something was changing.

And then Parkey happened.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

120 Comments

2019 Chicago Bears Off-Season Agenda: Part Two, Complementary Pieces

| February 7th, 2019

The Bears are in the position most NFL franchises want to be in February. They don’t need to spend the next three months searching for starters. They’re looking for complementary pieces to fortify a championship run. And there are several places they should look.


WINGSPAN OUT WIDE

Mitch Trubisky has a miss, especially when he’s throwing deep left. The miss is high. When he gets too pumped up – much like a starting pitcher – the miss is high. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue having this miss as I’m in the camp the Trubisky of September 2019 will bare little resemblance to the Trubisky of September 2018. But in the meantime, why not put a bit more size on the outside? The Bears have a star number one in Allen Robinson and tons of speed around him. But they’ve got no reach.

So why not look for a power forward – a big man to post up at the sticks on third-and-six and catch the ball in traffic? Could that be someone like Kelvin Benjamin or Michael Floyd? Sure, if the money is right. Is the answer possibly in-house, with someone like Javon Wims stepping up in 2019? It’s possible but I’m always wary of depending on players who struggle to even crack the 53 in their rookie season, especially at a position that saw multiple injuries.

The Bears need to add a different kind of player to this group. Someone with size and physicality.


EXPLOSION AT RUNNING BACK

Emily made a thorough argument against the Bears signing Kareem Hunt.

I made the case, as best I could, for the Bears pursuing the troubled running back.

Andrew explained why this Matt Nagy offense needs Kareem Hunt.

Nagy can’t run his offense without an every-down running back who threatens the opposing defense in the passing game.

—————

—————

Even if the Bears don’t acquire Hunt, they need to acquire a player LIKE Hunt.


MORE AT OUTSIDE LINEBACKER

I texted a league source in November with a question I’m fond of asking: “Tell me something about this Bears team I’m not smart enough to see.”

His response: “Leonard Floyd is playing out of his mind.” He went on to break down the many things Floyd was doing in coverage and explained to me how few outside backers – if any – were capable of that.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

83 Comments

2019 Chicago Bears Off-Season Agenda: Part One, Fixing the Biggest Problem

| February 6th, 2019

For every NFL franchise, each offseason begins with self-evaluation. That process is driven by one prevailing question: where can we improve our roster? The Bears have a very good roster; one of the better in the league. But their deficiencies in 2018, one in particular, kept them from advancing in the playoffs. They have a serious, specific need. And that need must be addressed in the coming months.

The Bears Need a Kicker.

Cody Parkey will be handed a pink slip as soon as it makes the most financial sense, leaving the Bears looking for a starter at the pivotal kicker position. (If you don’t think kicker is pivotal you missed this postseason.) Three points of note:

(1) Redford Jones was chum for the sharks. This is not to say the Tulsa product can’t kick his way onto the 2019 roster but that is not the current expectation inside the Halls of Halas. The 24 year-old product of Steve and Kristi Jones (Wikipedia is so funny) has one significant advantage: for most of January, all of February and half of March he’s going to be the only kicker on the Bears roster with a chance to play football for the team in September.

Helpful advice for Jones: go to Soldier Field and kick. Even if you have to steal the key from someone on the custodial staff.

(2) Free agents cost money and good free agents cost almost exclusively too much money. If the Bears want to bid for Stephen Gostkowski, they’ll end up making the same mistake every team makes when they acquire a Belichick castoff. The answer in free agency – IF there is an answer in free agency – is Robbie Gould. From a Patrick Finley piece in the Sun-Times:

“Obviously I still have an affinity for the city of Chicago,” Gould said while helping other Payton Award nominees build a playground at Warren Boys and Girls Club. “I really enjoy playing for San Francisco. They have exclusive rights to talk to me until free agency opens up. I think there’s a mutual understanding of wanting to go back there, but I’ve been through free agency before and you never know what’s going to happen.

“They’ve said they want to bring me back, obviously. At some point we have to negotiate a contract. . . . When the time’s right, they’ll do that and we’ll figure it out. If not, we’ll figure it out.”

If Gould does ends up as a free agent, he would find the Bears intriguing. His family still lives here and will continue to do so after he retires. If he signs a long-term contract, though, he plans on taking his family with him to that city.

“I’d like to be next to my family,” he said. “Those are things that will play a big part in free agency, for sure, if I ended up getting there.”

Clearly, Gould wants to return. But he can’t say that, of course. If the Niners don’t franchise him and free agency opens, the Bears have no choice. They must sign him. Because even if he misses every single kick he attempts in 2019, it’s a decision that will never be second-guessed.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

120 Comments

ATM: Signing Hunt to Bolster Rush Attack the Clearest Path to Super Bowl

| February 5th, 2019

Sometimes the best moves are the most difficult.

The biggest no-brainer of this 2019 NFL offseason is for the Bears to sign Kareem Hunt. From a strictly football standpoint, Hunt must be their top target. But, of course, it’s about more than strictly football. Those arguments were made by Jeff here and Emily here.

What we learned from the 2019 NFL playoffs is that running the ball is still really important:

  • The team that won the rushing battle went 9-2. The two exceptions of course were the Chicago Cody Parkeys losing to the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Chargers beating the Baltimore Ravens, despite losing the rushing battle by a single yard.
  • Teams that ran for 100 yards went 8-1. The only team that lost was Houston, which gave up 200 to Indianapolis in the Wild Card round.

Television networks and league executives want the NFL to be a passing league, but it’s tried and true that running the ball is important and the Bears just weren’t good enough at it. Despite being 11th in rushing yardage, the Bears struggled to move the ball on the ground consistently throughout the year. They were 27th in yards per carry and all of their rushing totals were inflated by having a quarterback who could routinely run for 15 yards on 3rd-and-10.

Perhaps what’s most troubling about the Bears lack of run production is that, unlike 2017, opponents weren’t trying to stop the run. Jordan Howard faced a stacked box (eight or more defenders) on just 14% of his carries, according to NFL NextGen Stats. That’s the 13th-lowest mark in the league. The player who had a stacked box the least was Tarik Cohen, coming in at 5.05%, well below Wendell Smallwood’s 6.9% rate.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

137 Comments

A Deeper Dive into the Sophomore Season of Mitchell Trubisky

| February 4th, 2019

After a rookie campaign that was statistically a nightmare, Mitchell Trubisky took the sophomore jump that many wanted to see. He went from performing like one of the worst QBs in the NFL to somebody who was average to above average, and accordingly the Bears went from being one of the worst teams in the NFL to one of the best (though a greatly improved defense also played a big role there).

Now that the dust has settled a little bit, I wanted to take a closer look at Trubisky’s 2018 season to see what I could learn. (I’ll note that I have upcoming work looking in more detail at short and deep splits, so I’m not going to focus on that here.)


Breaking Out

For the first three weeks of the season, Trubisky looked like he was continuing his rookie year. At that point, it was starting to look like maybe the Bears had a bust. Then Trubisky had a monster game against Tampa Bay in Week 4 and never looked back. The distinct split in his performance can be seen clearly in the table below.

A few thoughts:

  • There’s no way around saying it: Trubisky stunk the first three weeks. He dumped the ball out faster than any QB in the NFL, threw it shorter than all but nine, and completed shorter passes than any other QB by a full half yard. Despite all of that, he still threw into tight coverage at the 6th highest rate of any NFL QB this year, and took a high rate of sacks, which were largely on him.
  • But look at Week 4 and on. He started pushing the ball down the field more, which hurt his completion percentage a bit but helped him everywhere else. His full stat line from Week 4 on: 217/330 for 2632 yards, with 22 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and a 101.0 passer rating. That’s borderline top 10 quarterback production.

Shifting Styles

But Trubisky’s play didn’t remain stagnant for the rest of the season. Instead, we saw a distinct shift in playing styles over the last three weeks of the year, which can be clearly seen in the table below.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

52 Comments

Super Bowl Weekend Product Placement!

| February 2nd, 2019


The folks at FOCO are becoming one of DBB’s favorite partners, sending us bobbleheads to auction off for charitable causes and now sending me one of their reversible Hoodeez. It made an excellent 40th birthday present for my very close friend and a diehard Bears fan. (You can see it being modeled above in blurry photographs.) Here’s the description of the product:

Choosing between showing off your team spirit, looking good, and being comfortable is a touch decision. Borderline impossible. Good news. You don’t have to choose. Because you can enjoy that triple threat of fan awesome when you rock this Chicago Bears Reversible Big Logo Hoodeez.

You can head over to their site and check out the wide range of Chicago Bears-related products. We don’t endorse many companies around here but FOCO has gone above and beyond to embrace what we’re about at DBB.

Tagged: ,

154 Comments

A Four-Quarter Game Prediction For Super Bowl 53

| February 1st, 2019

Quarter One

This game starts fast. Both of these offensive coaching staffs thrive on the two weeks of preparation and script out the first 15-20 plays to perfection. Tom Brady does it with his trademark short passing game, exploiting the Rams underneath with a ton of James White. Jared Goff hits the Pats secondary over the top. Call it Brandin Cooks for a 54-yard TD. Three possessions. Three touchdowns.

Score: 14-7 Patriots


Quarter Two

Things slow down. Both offenses try and get their running games established, to limited success. Goff makes the first major mistake as halftime approaches, tossing an interception to Stephon Gilmore, and setting up the Pats for an easy score and a comfortable half-time lead.

Score: 28-14 Patriots


Halftime

Shit.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

50 Comments

Three Thoughts on the Actual Football Game Being Played Sunday in Atlanta

| January 31st, 2019

The best bar in Atlanta.


Thought 1. The Rams need a steady & consistent interior pass rush

Nobody pressures Brady from the perimeter because no quarterback in the history of the league is more comfortable stepping up quickly in the pocket and delivering the short-range bullet to a wide open, usually-white receiver. If your game plan to defend him is reliant upon edge pressure and disguised coverages (*cough* Vic Fangio *cough*) Brady will dice you up like a sous-chef working a garlic bulb.

You must put defenders in his face. And few teams are better equipped to do so than Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and these Rams. This game has career-defining potential for Donald.


Thought 2. Where the hell is Todd Gurley?

A few months back, the player Bill Belichick would have completely removed from this game would have been Todd Gurley. “Eliminate Gurley and force Jared Goff to beat us” might have been his rallying cry. And it would have been the correct approach. The Bears showed the league that if you take away the Los Angeles rushing attack and pressure Goff, you control the game.

But Gurley seems to have eliminated himself, unless you believe the injury fairy tale spewing out of the City of Angels. C.J. Anderson has somehow become every bit the horse but Anderson does not have anywhere near the game-changing explosiveness of a man many considered the best offensive weapon in the sport in, like, October! If the Rams are going to win this game, Gurley can’t be riding the stationary bike on pivotal possessions.


Thought 3. Return Men

Three names will be involved.

For the Rams, JoJo Natson.

For the Pats, Cordarrelle Patterson and Julian Edelman.

All three are capable of conjuring the kind of game-altering play that decides which team is holding the Lombardi at the end of the evening. (And all three rank in the top ten at all the relevant return statistics.)

Who will it be? Watch out for Patterson. If Greg the Leg gives him an opportunity to give the Pats an easy six, he may just do it.

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

71 Comments

How to Wager $100 on Super Bowl LIII

| January 30th, 2019

Today’s offering is not meant to advocate gambling. I do advocate gambling because it’s a shit ton of fun but that’s not the intention of this particular column. Today, I will be showing you how to spend a mere $100 to greatly increase your enjoyment of another Super Bowl featuring the New England Patriots.


Bet 1

$15 on the game being decided by exactly 3 points (+375)

The Pats used to play three and four-point Super Bowls exclusively and this doesn’t feel like a game that can go wildly in any direction. Plus you’re getting almost 4-1 odds on the bet so why not? It’s also far more fun to root for close games.


Bet 2

$25 on over 56.5 points (-110)

Always bet the Super Bowl over. Who the hell wants to root for teams not to score, especially when you don’t care about the result? This is the most fun bet to place for a Super Bowl party because even those who don’t know/care what’s happening on the field will be excited to know every single point scored helps them win a little cash.

[Side note: If you have access to a book, legal or otherwise, always incorporate everyone at your Super Bowl party in at least one bet TOGETHER.]


Bet 3

$20 on no field goals in the second quarter (+240)

I have almost no rationale for this bet other than (a) it’s silly and (b) I think these are two coaches who will understand the uselessness of field goals in a game like this.


Bet 4

$40 on a team scoring in the final 3:30 of the game (-170)

By the fourth quarter a lot of non-football fans are checked out on the game. So this is the bet to get them re-motivated to focus on the television set. And since the assumption on this game is that it’ll be high-scoring and close, how is the game going to remain scoreless over the final three and a half minutes? It’s not. The odds aren’t great here so you’ll have to lay out some cheese. (I’m betting way more than $40 on this.)

Tagged: , , ,