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Wednesday Lynx Package (7/7/21)

| July 7th, 2021


Camp is still weeks away and with it comes the anticipation of analyzing every single throw from Justin Fields and Andy Dalton for days and days and days.


Updated NFC North odds:

Green Bay remains the favorite at -121, which could only be the number if DraftKings believed Rodgers will end up playing for the Packers. Minnesota and Chicago – +225 and +350 respectively – are sitting at pretty good numbers. Detroit is +2000 and those odds are still too low.

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ATM: Fields Pick Changes Math On Allen Robinson Extension

| July 6th, 2021

By drafting Justin Fields the Bears not only changed the direction of the franchise — possibly saving the jobs of everyone from the team president to the coaching staff — the selection also reshaped the direction the team should go with star wide receiver Allen Robinson.

Paying Robinson big money without knowing the long-term answer at quarterback would’ve been questionable. Fields is that answer, and the Bears have until next week to lock Robinson down and make sure Fields knows who his primary target is going to be.

There is little question that Robinson wants to be among the top-five paid players at his position. The price tag will rise if Davante Adams re-signs with the Green Bay Packers before the start of the season. The Bears have until July 15 to negotiate a contract with Robinson or settle on the fact that they’ll almost certainly lose him in 2022.

Robinson and the Bears have something in common in that we don’t know what either are with an actual quarterback.

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Three Thoughts on Potential Allen Robinson Tag-and-Trade

| February 25th, 2021

(1) The only time I’ve gotten a scoop wrong on Twitter was during a conversation I had with Robinson last spring, suggesting he would be extended shortly. That suggestion came from directly inside the organization and there was a firm belief the deal was done. It was not. Robinson wanted more. (Way more.) And now it seems ARob has taken his situation to the media in hopes of avoiding the franchise tag and securing about a $100 million contract.

That same individual inside the organization told me this week the team has NOT ruled out a long-term deal with Robinson. An extension is still their best case scenario, despite what Robinson says publicly.

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(2) Tagging Robinson is a no brainer. And if any team is willing to part with a first-round pick for him, the Bears should not even hesitate to make that move. As Andrew wrote Tuesday, if trading Robinson makes it possible for the Bears to acquire a potential franchise QB, nothing else matters. Make the deal. If the Bears don’t find themselves acquiring an established starter (Watson, Carr) before the draft, they must come out of that first round with a quarterback to inspire the fan base and give hope for the future. With two first rounders, that should be fairly easy to accomplish.

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(3) This piece at CBS from Cody Benjamin has a passage I simply don’t understand:

If Chicago hasn’t met his demands by now, it’s hard to believe the team will retain him any longer, unless it’s on the franchise tag Robinson doesn’t want.

Who cares what Robinson wants? This is a business. The Bears are not going to determine whether or not to tag Robinson based upon the player’s preferences! It’s been amazing to see national writers only see the team’s options as tagging (and keeping) him or letting him go onto the open market.

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ATM: Trading Robinson Could Help Bears Land Franchise QB

| February 23rd, 2021

It certainly doesn’t seem as if the Chicago Bears are going to be re-signing Allen Robinson to a long-term extension, which means they have to find a way to make his exit a positive for the future of the franchise. The best way to do that is by moving him in a deal that would help the team draft the next franchise quarterback.

As I wrote last week, the team’s options at quarterback are relatively limited and trading up would cost them more picks than most GMs would be comfortable with unloading. Their most valuable asset could be Robinson through a tag and trade scenario.

In recent years, worse receivers have been traded for first round picks, so that’s where the bidding could start for Robinson. Last year, Stefon Diggs was traded for the 22nd pick and some change after a season in which he caught just 63 passes. Considering he’ll be on the franchise tag with a hefty raise coming, it’s not unreasonable to consider Robinson as having the same value as Diggs.

Trading Robinson makes the Bears future prospects at least a little more interesting.

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Numbers Prove It: Losing Robinson Not An Option

| January 29th, 2021

After yesterday’s piece highlighting the Bears’ need to prioritize keeping Allen Robinson around this offseason, today will build on that with a closer look at Robinson’s value to the Bears. I’ll start with examining his individual performance, and then look to the importance of that performance in context to building a roster.


High Volume

To start with, Robinson is the team’s highest volume pass weapon by a wide margin. More than 1 in 4 passes the Bears threw last year went Robinson’s way, and he finished 3rd in the NFL in targets with 151 (9.4/game). Nobody else had more than Darnell Mooney’s 98 (6.1/game). Replacing that kind of volume would be difficult.

However, you could reasonably argue that high volume is not indicative of quality. In fact, if Robinson drew a lot of targets but had limited production with them, it could be argued that distributing those targets elsewhere is a good idea. And at first glance, Robinson was not a terribly efficient target.

  • Although Robinson was 3rd in the NFL in targets, he was 6th in receptions and 9th in yards, which means other players around the league out-produced him while needing less volume to do so.
  • Of the 42 players who saw 100 targets in 2020, Robinson ranked 21st in both catch % and yards/target, meaning he was middle of the pack in efficiency.

It is important to remember, however, that a pass catcher is dependent on their quarterback, and Robinson was working with bad quarterbacks last year. The players who caught more passes than him were catching balls from Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr, and Patrick Mahomes. Those who finished with more yards caught passes from those QBs plus Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins, and Matt Ryan.


High Efficiency

With that in mind, let’s compare Robinson’s efficiency to the rest of the team’s pass catchers. The table below shows the basic statistics for every player with at least 10 targets in 2020.

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Losing Allen Robinson Should Not Be an Option

| January 28th, 2021


Here’s the truth about the Chicago Bears offense: they’ve got players.

The interior of their offensive line is now young, talented and deep. Sam Mustipher is a starting center. Cody Whitehair, Alex Bars and James Daniels all proved they can play at a high level. And all four will only improve under the tutelage of Juan Castillo.

David Montgomery has established himself as one of the better running backs in the league, and the backfield will be more dynamic in 2021 with the return of Tarik Cohen.

Rookies Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet combined for 89 catches, 874 yards and 6 touchdowns. They did so with sub-mediocrity from the quarterback position, and with Kmet having to wait until December for a game with more than two catches.

The Bears need to add talent at tackle, and should always be adding weapons on the outside. But one thing they can not worry about in 2021 is replacing Allen Robinson as their top receiver option.

Robinson’s game is not without flaws. He seemingly never wins 50/50 jump balls, and many of those manage to end up in the hands of defensive backs. He lacks the kind of speed to threaten defenses over the top. But he’s one of the more steady, reliable receivers in the league. His 102 catch, 1,250 yard, 6 touchdown performance in 2020 – especially considering the quarterback play – is one of the more impressive seasons in team history.

The Bears should not even consider a roster next season without him. And that consideration does not require paying him north of $80 million, despite the #ExtendARob movement on social media. The Bears have made many substantial, lucrative offers to Robinson and his side has rejected all of them. He wants $100 million. No one is going to pay him that.

The franchise tag exists for this exact situation. If Robinson doesn’t like that outcome, too damn bad. Nothing bothers me more than players complaining about the tag, an admittedly-absurd designation their union agreed to in collective bargaining. If players don’t like the tag – and none of them seem to – they should hire someone with gravitas to run the NFLPA and eliminate the damn thing. In the meantime, no one should criticize a team for doing what is economically prudent.

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FOCO Week 10 Game Preview: Vikings at Bears, Volume II

| November 16th, 2020


FOCO is giving away the product above (full description available HERE) to the winner of tonight’s contest. It’s going to be a super cold winter across the country and having a hoodie that doubles as a mask will help.

So what is tonight’s contest? Guess the total yards COMBINED for Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Darnell Mooney receiving. (Receiving only.) For context, their totals over the last three games are 183, 229 and 130. So a wide range is possible.

As always the rules:

  • Guess must be made in the comments section below.
  • Guess must be made in an isolated comment.
    • Do not make the guess in the body of a longer comment. Do not make the guess in the thread of another discussion. I’m not going searching for your guess.
  • Pay attention! Once someone guesses 169, 169 is dead. If you repeat 169, you’re guess is void.

Good luck! On to the remainder of the game preview!


On Matt Nagy Giving Up Play-Calling

As was broken in the comments section last week, Matt Nagy won’t be calling the plays tonight. It was the only move for him to make and it’s overdue.

Will this move fix the offense? Of course not. But when your offense is performing at a level this low, you have to empty the trunk and bring out the gimp. No move is too dramatic. If changing the play-caller means even two or three extra first downs a game, you do it.

Nagy didn’t want to . I get it. “I love it” he said repeatedly about calling plays. We take this game so seriously sometimes that we forget it’s a game and it’s supposed to be fun for EVERYBODY involved. Nagy just relinquished the part of the game he loves most. That ain’t easy.

And as much as I fell this move was belated, it should still be applauded. A mature head coach is benching his stubborn offensive coordinator.


Haiku

Calling plays no more,

Nagy paces the sideline.

His headset, on mute.


Bears on the Hot Seat

Offense. Allen Robinson. There’s no doubting that Robinson is this club’s number one receiver but he is looking for Michael Thomas money. Is it too much to ask for him to win 50/50 balls? Is it too much to ask for him dominate an inferior opponent? The Bears don’t need 4-for-70 from ARob tonight. They need 11-for-140. And they need that production to occur while the game is still being contested, not in garbage time. You can blame the quarterback play all you want but great receivers elevate mediocre quarterbacks. Is Robinson a great receiver?

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ATM: Offense is Terrible, But Did We See Signs of Improvement Sunday?

| November 4th, 2020


None of it was pretty. But 23 points and roughly 330 yards was about the best anybody could have or should have expected from the Chicago Bears offense on Sunday. That is a sad statement. But it is our current reality.

Already with a bad offensive line, the Bears got worse up front early in the game when Bobby Massie went down. His replacement, Jason Spriggs, is a backup for a reason, and a backup on this offensive is most likely a third stringer elsewhere. The Bears ended the game with an offensive line that included two UDFAs (one was a defensive lineman three years ago), a seventh-round pick turned average veteran, a second-round bust and a first-round bust. Some teams can win with a bad offensive line. A team with Nick Foles at quarterback can’t. To their credit, the Bears battled and scored 23 points against a Saints defense just hitting its stride.

The offense wasn’t good enough by NFL standards, but it could have been good enough to win Sunday. If the Bears defense plays to their potential, the same type of performance could also be good enough to win enough games down the stretch.

Could this have been a performance upon which to build?

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Week 8 Game Preview: Oh When the Saints, Come Marching In!

| October 29th, 2020


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…defense.


Definitive Week for Matt Nagy, Caller of Plays

A friend of mine works for the New Orleans Saints in their scouting department. When discussing this week’s game, and the prospect of Matt Nagy relinquishing the role of play caller, he noted, “If they can’t move the ball vs our secondary next week…then it’s really time.”

Last week, Mike Davis had 7 carries for 12 yards against the Saints front. Let me just repeat that. Mike Davis, the starting running back for the Carolina Panthers, had 7 carries. For 12 yards. (New Orleans is the fourth-ranked rush defense in the league.) One would think that such a porous running game would have made it impossible for Teddy Bridgewater to execute the passing attack. But the opposite was true. Bridgewater – who pitched to a quarterback rating of about 50 against the Bears – was nearly perfect against the Saints. 23-28. 254 yards. 2 touchdowns. QB rating of 128.3.

You don’t need a running game to move the ball and score points on these Saints. And that’s good. Because the Bears don’t have one. If Nagy can’t draw up production from the passing game this week, it would be very difficult to see him calling the plays against the Tennessee Titans next week.


Nine Favorite Films of 1979, the Year of Drew’s Birth

(9) Monty Python’s Life of Brian

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(8) The Jerk

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(7) …And Justice For All

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ATM: Anthony Miller’s No-Show Sunday Proves Bears Need Allen Robinson

| September 22nd, 2020


Last week a strong argument emerged that the Bears might be better off not extending Allen Robinson’s contract, instead relying on Anthony Miller to be the team’s top wide receiver.

That argument died on Sunday.

Calling the two passes Miller didn’t catch drops is disingenuous. Both would’ve required phenomenal moments from the young receiver. But Miller has that ability! What changed from Week One when he made those plays to Week Two when he couldn’t? How can the Bears rely on him when they don’t know what they’re getting from week-to-week?

Dan Pompei was among those who promoted that idea that the Bears could have a number one receiver in Miller. Nobody questions that Miller has the talent to be The Guy, but NFL history is littered with talented wide receivers who never developed the consistency to be The Guy. See: Price, Peerless.


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