168 Comments

NFL is Playing Politics of the Worst Kind

| June 1st, 2018

“Stick to sports.”

Every sports journalist or athlete who has ever expressed a political opinion has probably had this insipid phrase thrown their way. It’s become quite a common refrain, particularly after the media took note that Colin Kaepernick wasn’t standing for the national anthem a couple years ago.

Like most snarky retorts it’s not meant to be particularly clever or thoughtful. It’s meant to shut down conversation and put someone in their place.

It’s also bullshit.

Not only is it ridiculous to expect a person, let alone a public figure with a large platform, to solely talk about their profession and nothing else 24/7, it’s also disingenuous because often the person saying “stick to sports” doesn’t mean they don’t want someone talking about politics. They just don’t want someone expressing a political viewpoint opposing their own.

Last week’s decision by the NFL to amend their national anthem policy was not made in an effort to “stick to sports”, or appear nonpartisan, as some have claimed. The decision was explicitly political. They implemented this rule in the hopes it would appeal to the political and social leanings of those they view as their core audience: namely, conservative white people.

Let me get two things out of the way before I go any further.

  1. Yes, I am aware not all people who are against the protests are white and/or conservative, and that many conservative-leaning white people are fine with or supportive of players protesting. But in general, white conservatives have been much more disapproving of the protests than liberals and people of color.
  2. This is not a First Amendment issue. Let me repeat that, just so we’re all clear. This is not a First Amendment issue. Private organizations have the right to restrict what their employees say and do during company time. I am well aware of this, so no need to point that out in the comments.

Moving on…..

Read More …

Tagged: ,

56 Comments

Roquan Smith To the Starting Lineup!

| May 31st, 2018


Three quick thoughts on this inevitable development:

  • There is a belief in some older-school league coaching circles that somehow young players benefit from starting as third-stringers and working their way into the starting lineup over the laborious period of training camp. When Parcells and Walsh were on the sideline, sure, I’d buy it. But now? Coaches are too limited in the amount of time they can put their hands on players. They get so little actual field time with their starters, never mind the rookies. The smart staffs recognize talent and insert that talent into the starting lineup immediately. Let the kids play themselves out of that spot.
  • This should have happened last season with Mitch Trubisky but the Fox coaching staff was gutless. Because they did not recognize the MASSIVE talent gap between their starter and third-stringer, they botched what could have been a terrific year of development for the kid. (It could be argued the Bears simply waited a year too long to follow the Eagles model.)
  • Am I getting excited about Matt Nagy? Yep. I’m trying not to, because most of this stuff doesn’t matter, but I just like everything happening around the 2018 Chicago Bears right now.

Tagged: , ,

48 Comments

Floyd Must Be The Solution to Bears Pass Rush Problem

| May 30th, 2018

Ryan Pace has taken a lot of heat for not adding another pass rusher to complement Leonard Floyd. But if Floyd is who Pace once thought, the Bears will be just fine. The Bears need the Georgia product to realize his potential. In two years Floyd has struggled to stay on the field and has just 11.5 sacks. The bigger problem? He hasn’t been able to get pressure consistently.

Amongst the Bears regular edge rushers, Floyd actually had the one of the worst rates at getting to the quarterback. According to the NFL’s official statistics (NFL GSIS), Floyd managed 12 hits on opposing quarterbacks, the third highest total on the team, but he played significantly more snaps than any of the other edge rushers.

  • Sam Acho was actually second on the team with 18 hits in 251 pass rush snaps (snap counts per Pro Football Focus).
  • Pernell McPhee hit opposing quarterbacks 11 times in 197 snaps.
  • Willie Young had four QB hits in 67 snaps.

Breaking it down further, Floyd hit the quarterback once every 23 snaps, while Acho did so every 14 snaps, Young did every 17 snaps and McPhee did every 18 snaps.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

87 Comments

Bears Have Increased Their Talent Level. Now, Can They Stay Healthy?

| May 29th, 2018

There has been a growing feeling among local and national media alike this offseason that the Bears are a team on the rise. Several writers have pegged them as one of the most improved teams in the NFL through both the draft and free agency. Peter King recently declared they had “the best offseason of any team in football.”

It’s no secret that the writers for this site all agree the Bears are poised to make a jump in 2018 (though I have cautioned against letting expectations get too high), but today I want to address the elephant in the room: health.

To put it frankly, the Bears can’t expect to be better than the last few years unless they can find a way to stay healthier. In the last four seasons, Chicago has won 5, 6, 3, and 5 games, and in that time they have consistently been among the most injured teams in the NFL, ranking 27th, 28th, 32nd, and 31st in Football OutsidersAdjusted Games Lost (AGL) metric. This is a useful metric because it weighs starters as more valuable than backups and accounts for playing through injuries as well (click the link above for a more detailed description of how it’s calculated).


By the Numbers

In an attempt to quantify the impact injuries have on team performance, I looked at how well teams did compared to how they ranked in the AGL for that season. I looked at the last five years, giving a sample size of 160 teams, and split them into quartiles (8 teams per group per year, so 40 total). Results can be seen in the table below.

[Editor’s Note: Nope, you’re not alone. I had never heard the word “quartile” either.]

These results clearly show the importance of staying healthy.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

61 Comments

Happy Memorial Day Weekend from DBB!

| May 25th, 2018

I’m not a photographer. But I like to take pictures. That probably describes 99% of the population right now. I thought I’d share a few images from a few years back – a visit to Normandy I took with my lady friend (pictured below). Enjoy the weekend. Stay safe. Don’t drink and drive. Content returns Tuesday, barring any breaking news.

Tagged: , , ,

280 Comments

NFL’s New Anthem Policy is Another in a Long Line of League Blunders

| May 24th, 2018

When players started kneeling for the national anthem, the reaction broke down into three separate categories:

Category One

“Good for them, exercising their first amendment rights and using the only pulpit they have to protest injustice.”

Category Two

“How dare they not stand for the anthem! It’s disrespectful to the flag and troops! The troops!”

Category Three

“Who gives a shit?”

Well, people did give a shit. One specific group of people, a loud group currently led by the President of the United States and his incoherent, grammatically-challenged Twitter feed. (Besides the stupidity and lies found on that feed, I’m always fascinated by the words Mr. Trump chooses to capitalize. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to it. He just randomly chooses a words and CAPS.)

Suddenly, the sideline became the big story.

State Television – Fox News – started blaming the kneeling players for the league’s declining TV ratings every single night on every single show. Oddly, the company pushed this narrative while preparing a $3.3 billion offer for the league’s Thursday Night Football package, which they acquired in January. It’s almost like those folks had an ulterior motive behind what they were incorrectly stating about television ratings. Almost like they were trying to devalue the package.

[Side note: I worked for Nielsen for several years in their television department. No issue has been more incorrectly reported than the TV ratings issue. But here’s what you need to know. TV ratings are declining across the board. NFL football ratings are declining at a much slower rate than the rest of the medium. It has actually INCREASED the value of the commodity. And now with sports gambling, look out.]

A lot of other shit went down too. Bob McNair and the “inmates”. The Steelers debacle at Soldier Field. Whatever the hell Jerry Jones and the Cowboys did that one time. But it was this ratings debate – the economic one – that seemed to truly bother Roger Goodell at the home office on Park Avenue. With the NFL, it’s always money.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

38 Comments

Getting to the Quarterback Key To Goldman’s NFL/Earning Potential

| May 23rd, 2018

Eddie Goldman was one of the first key defensive additions for Ryan Pace and Vic Fangio as they rebuilt the unit. But his staying and earning power could depend upon his ability to get after the quarterback.

First, nobody questions whether or not Goldman is a good player. He is a very, very good player. But the Bears have to decide exactly how much they value a run-stuffing defensive tackle in a passing league. But Goldman, according to media reports, is primed to become one of the league’s higher-paid defensive linemen. In order for that to happen, he’ll have to convince the Bears they don’t need to take him off the field on passing downs.

Goldman has shown the ability to get after the quarterback.

  • As a rookie he managed 4.5 sacks and regularly generated pressure up the middle.
  • In his second season he added 2.5 quarterback take downs in just five games.
  • His total dropped to 1.5 in 2017, despite playing significantly more snaps.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

53 Comments

Like ‘Em or Not, These Are the Chicago Bears For the Foreseeable Future

| May 22nd, 2018

Since Ryan Pace showed up in 2015, there has been nearly complete roster turnover, with only Kyle Long, Charles Leno, Sherrick McManis, and Pat O’Donnell remaining from the previous regime. Every single offseason has seen significant changes, with a host of prominent players leaving and a sizable new batch of faces coming in.

Consequently, Bears fans are used to offseasons of sweeping change. But that pattern should end in 2019. To understand why, let’s look at who is already under contract on both sides of the ball.


Offense

Key players under contract: QB Mitchell Trubisky, RB Jordan Howard, RB Tarik Cohen, WR Allen Robinson, WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Anthony Miller, WR Javon Wims, TE Trey Burton, TE Adam Shaheen, LT Charles Leno, LG James Daniels, C Cody Whitehair, RG Kyle Long

Notable free agents: RT Bobby Massie, Eric Kush

Possible Cap Casualties: RG Kyle Long, TE Dion Sims

Chicago’s offense is young and locked-in for the next two years. Nobody on this list except Kyle Long is over 28 years old, and over half of these players are still on rookie deals. 2018 should see the best offense the Bears have had since 2013 (not exactly stiff competition) and there’s every expectation at this point that the same group returning basically intact in 2019 should be even better.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

57 Comments

Audibles From the Long Snapper: Enthusiasm, Pass Rush & Much More on the Gambling Front!

| May 21st, 2018

Some General Bears Thoughts

  • The first year of Trestman came with a lot of enthusiasm around the offense but nobody foresaw the defense plummeting to the bottom of the league. (There was also a segment of the fan base that refused to be excited about anything involving Jay Cutler.) This year there is just as much enthusiasm around the offense with an expected top-ten unit on the other side of the ball. There is real excitement around this club right now. They better win games.
  • When DBB started there were like two other Bears bloggers. Now there are about 100. And I honestly don’t follow or read what 99% of them do. But I’d love to see the out-and-out lying stop. Stop pretending you have sources. Stop pretending you’re “told” things. Stop linking the team every seemingly-available player in the league so you can get ten more clicks. It took ten years of me grinding before anybody associated with the Bears (or the league) would even answer an email. Sadly, the lying shit reflects poorly on this site because we got the fucking word “blog” in our title.
  • Nobody should underestimate how little this team has in the pass rush department. It will keep them from being a dominant defense. Leonard Floyd is their only reliable rusher on the roster and he’s (a) inconsistent and (b) averaging 11 games played over his first two seasons. What happens to this defense if Floyd misses five games in 2018?

Finley: Defense Believes in Offense

From his piece this week in the Sun-Times, profiling Prince Amukamara’s decision to return to the Bears:

“I want to win a championship, and having Mitch here, that’s always the start,” he said after the Bears’ second organized-team-activity practice Wednesday. “The quarterback’s always the start, and just having Mitch and seeing his improvement and his effort . . . I’m sure some people saw, but even when Mitch was the backup, Mitch was staying after practice and always working hard. And you love seeing that in a quarterback, especially a backup.

‘‘I’ve always just saw greatness in him ever since then. I think this year he gets to really show it.”

Amukamara isn’t alone. Receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, who signed this offseason, hope Trubisky can get them a “third contract, or help them get their first ring,” Amukamara said.

“I think if guys came here to win, then, yeah, the quarterback should definitely be the first thing that you look at,” he said.

NFL players want to do two things: make a lot of money and win. And the hierarchy of those two things is a player-by-player thing. For wide receivers choosing where to land in free agency, the quarterback can enable both. That’s why Robinson and Gabriel chose Chicago.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

92 Comments

A Reader (and Gambling Expert) Responds to My Legalization Column

| May 18th, 2018

Hi Jeff,

As a longtime fan/reader/listener of dabearsblog, I would like to offer up my experience and perspective on the recent change to sports betting laws in your country, and what results that may actually lead to in states across the U.S.A.

Sports betting has been legal in Canada for years, and in most provinces since the 90s, when offered by a provincially licensed/regulated entity.  But how it has been treated from province-to-province differs a fair bit, and the ongoing struggles to get certain sports/offers approved continues.  Following from your recent article, I would have some differing views on what the future may hold, but some points I agree with and have some further context:


“What a full sports book does is open up hundreds upon hundreds of bets per game…The active sports books around the country will take this action and the most creative ones will make the most money.”

This pre-supposes a lot.  States will want their say, and each could and will likely be very different in what they allow.  Will they have a private operator model, or will it be through the state-owned lottery…or some hybrid?  In Canada the models are very similar (with some nuance online), but in Europe there is a lot of variety.  Regardless of the operating model, what they allow to be offered in law may differ starkly.  In Canada, there are only two provinces (of 10) that today offer in-game (“live”) betting.  While most offer prop bets, the type & quantity allowed differ a fair bit.  Still not allowed throughout the country:  single-event betting.  It is still in our criminal code that you cannot bet on a single sporting event – thus, we must force parlays of at least two events.  Some states may be very conservative, if history holds.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

© Da' Bears Blog