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A Short Statement on Jordan Howard

| April 9th, 2018

From the desk of:

Jeff Hughes, Editor-in-Chief

DaBearsBlog

Jordan Howard is Good

Honestly, I was just going to write the headline and leave it there. Because the growing number of Bears fans across social media who, due to trade “rumors”, suddenly believe Howard is not a great running back…is starting to sicken me.

Is Howard great in the passing game? No. Point conceded.

But in two seasons Howard has amassed more than 2400 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns, averaging 4.6 yards a clip. For the “anyone can do that” crowd, show me another back who HAS while:

  • Running by second and third-string offensive linemen.
  • Running without the luxury of a passing attack.
  • Running hurt for nearly HALF those games.

Just show me another back with similar achievement. I will actually spare the effort of looking. There isn’t anyone close.

(He also has 52 catches in that time. Ezekiel Elliot has 58. )

I like Ryan Pace and am supremely optimistic about Matt Nagy. But if they looked at Howard’s body of work with the Bears and thought, “Yea, we don’t need this guy” then I seriously question both men’s ability to evaluate personnel. Howard may not be a prototypical modern running back but he reminds one of what a Bears tailback used to look like. Back when they were a winning organization.

If I was starting a team tomorrow, I wouldn’t want Jordan Howard. I’d want 53 Jordan Howards. And I’d like my odds in the Sunday street fight.

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Data Entry: Random Roster Thoughts

| April 6th, 2018

Note: thanks to Butch for the cool new header picture

Free agency is settling down, so now is a good time to take a look at where the Bears’ roster currently stands. This will give us a better idea of what minor free agency moves should still be made and where the draft attention should focus for the first few rounds.

Let’s start with a rough depth chart, followed by a few quick thoughts. This is just my estimate of what a depth chart could look like, don’t read too much into details like Roy Robertson-Harris being above Jonathan Bullard, or anything like that.

Reflections, in no particular order:

  • The Bears currently have 65 players under contract. They’re scheduled for 7 draft picks, and will likely sign a few more cheap veterans, but there’s going to be plenty of room to fill out the roster with undrafted free agents after the draft. Expect them to bring in at least 15 of them, and thus it’s no surprise that they’ve been meeting with several players projected as possible UDFA targets, including Jonah Trinnaman and Jarvion Franklin.

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How The Masters is Like the NFL (And a Few Other Thoughts)

| April 5th, 2018

Here are a bunch of Around the League thoughts for this random April Thursday.

  • I love the Masters. But I don’t care for the people who run the tournament, Augusta National Golf Club. I love professional football. I can’t stand the people who operate the league, it’s thirty-two owners and league office. These are by-and-large shitty, old, racist white guys shepherding a great product.
  • This “lowering the head” penalty has been universally panned by players and the NFL’s attempt to rule change brain injuries out of the game (see: kickoff removal) reminds me of golf’s debate over the ball going too far. You can’t legislate strength and speed out of sports. There are more head injuries in the league now, and the ball goes further off the driver face, because the players are bigger, stronger and faster than ever before in human history. In the NFL they are hitting each other at 25 MPH.
  • Don’t look now but the Panthers are going to sell for north of $2.5 billion. The Bears, should the McCaskey family ever show interest in selling, would fetch $4 billion, even without owning a lucrative piece of real estate.
  • Has there ever been a team attack the NFL off-season like this Rams club? And does anybody really think it’s going to work? One lesson the NFL should learn from this approach: the key to modern success is winning on a good QB’s rookie deal. Once that QB gets his $100 million, the chances of winning consistently drop precipitously.
  • What’s been almost as amazing is the Seahawks embracing a down year, referring to 2018 as a “reset”. With Jimmy G. exciting the Bay Area, not hard to imagine Seattle trafficking down the bottom of the NFC West this year.
  • Derwin James is a special player and he was profiled here on DBB during this college football season.
  • An NFL GM texted me this week: “Everything coming out of the Giants right now is bullshit. Don’t believe any of it.” He’s right.
  • When asked if the Redskins were better with Alex Smith than Kirk Cousins, Jay Gruden responded, “Without a doubt.” One day there will be a 30-for-30 on Cousins’ time with Washington. And I will watch the hell out of it because I simply don’t understand his tenure with that team.
  • Saw an ESPN segment debating whether Mitch Trubisky will throw 20 TDs this season. He’s going to fly by that number is he stays healthy.

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Across The Middle: Does Vic Want To Play Chess?

| April 4th, 2018

Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio hasn’t shown a lot of creativity when it comes to how he uses his players, but that just might change if the draft breaks the way many expect. Because if three quarterbacks are taken ahead of the Bears – with Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson and Saquon Barkley also going – the best players Ryan Pace might be looking at are versatile defensive backs Derwin James and Minkah Fitzpatrick.

It isn’t really fair or accurate to pigeon hole James or Fitzpatrick as safeties. They both played in the box, as slot corners or nickel linebackers, a significant amount. (An argument can be made that’s where they were at their best.) The Bears would be able to start either player at safety and move them down in sub-packages.

They’d be closer to the line of scrimmage more often than not, but the Bears have never used a player like them under Fangio.



Fangio has had chances to use extra safeties. He just hasn’t.

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Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s draft profile, day 1

| April 3rd, 2018

 

Now that Ryan Pace has been here for a while, we can start to look at his past drafts to see what lessons we can learn from his approach. This can help us cautiously look ahead to the 2018 draft to see what he might be thinking.

With that goal in mind, I’m going to spend the next three weeks looking at how Pace has approached the three days of the draft, and then applying that approach to 2018 to see what players are likely being considered for the Bears this year. We’re starting today at the top of the draft. Let’s look first at the history, and then we’ll examine lessons learned.

Draft History

2015: Kevin White, WR, 7th overall

2016: Leonard Floyd, OLB, 9th overall (trade up from 11)

2017: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, 2nd overall (trade up from 3)

Trend 1: Go get your guy

The first thing we should observe is that Ryan Pace is not shy about trading up in round 1 to get the player he has identified as his main target. So keep that in mind as we look at mock drafts with players who might be good fits for the Bears but are projected to go higher than #8.

It’s worth noting that these have all been relatively minor trades just moving up a few spots, which keeps the cost down. Despite reportedly exploring moving up to the top of the draft for Marcus Mariota in 2015, Pace has not been willing to give up multiple high picks in these moves.

Trading up becomes a bit more difficult this year because the Bears are already without a third round pick due to trading up for Trubisky last year, but they do have an extra fourth round pick they could use.

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Audibles: Jahns on Nagy Hiring, Tight End Stuff & Links!

| March 29th, 2018

Jahns on the Nagy Hiring

“AJ After Dark” wrote the best piece of Bears journalism since Wiederer’s piece on the Trubisky dinner in North Carolina. There were a dozen pieces of information in article worth noting but here is my favorite:

As the eight-seat jet descended, Phillips said it became the most frightening flight of his life. Pace said the plane was “thrashed.”

“At one point, I looked back, and Ted’s glasses flew off his head,” Pace said.

Said McCaskey: “What’s that Audie Murphy movie? ‘To Hell and Back’? ”

It was scary as hell.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘OK, if this thing goes down, it’s probably better that it’s on the descent because there is less fuel,’ ” Pace said.

“Ted was thinking, ‘Well, I can see the tree line, so this might be survivable.’

“George was thinking, ‘Oh, man, I should have laid out the full succession plan before we got on the flight.’ ”

They made it and were soon off to Foxborough, where Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was interviewed past midnight.

“As the plane is coming to a halt, Ted yells at me, ‘Ryan, this better be worth it!’ ” Pace said, laughing. “It was just insane.”

What do I find particularly interesting here?

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ATM: Harold Landry Is The Best Player the Bears Aren’t Likely To Take

| March 28th, 2018

Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry projects as a dynamic player at a position of need for the Bears. While an ankle injury slowed him last year (before ending his season completely) he still managed 21.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons at BC. He also forced ten fumbles in his collegiate career and added an interception for good measure.

After dominating on the field, Landry put on a show at the combine last month. According to MockDraftable:

  • Landry tested in the 87th percentile or better in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
  • His broad jump was in the 72nd percentile.
  • Many consider the agility drills to be the most important for pass rushers and Landry tested in the 91st percentile in 20-yard shuttle, 95th in three-cone drill and 99th in 60-yard shuttle.

That elite athleticism and shows on tape.



While his technique may still need some refinement, he’s incredibly active, bouncing around the edge and attacking offensive tackles before getting to the quarterback. He’s an impressive player to watch.

And the Bears will likely pass on Landry without a second thought. His arms are too short.

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Data Entry: Positional Draft Trends Should Help Shape Bears Approach

| March 27th, 2018

 

The Bears have picks near the top of days one, two and three of the draft this year. (The picks themselves are in rounds one, two and four.) With several positions of need, the team needs to weigh the value of a position and the depth of players at that position on their board.

One must factor how many players typically get drafted at certain positions in certain parts of the draft. If they don’t draft, say, an edge rusher in round one, how many will likely be gone before they pick again in round two? And if they pass again in round two, how many will typically be gone by the time they’re up again at the top of round four?

With those questions in mind, I looked at the last ten drafts to see how many players were drafted at positions of interest in each round. I looked mainly at positions which are clear needs for the Bears this year, which in my book are edge rusher*, interior OL, cornerback, and offensive tackle. I also looked at wide receivers, tight ends and running backs, because I think the Bears might continue adding more weapons around Mitch Trubisky.

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