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Building a Tight End Profile for the Matt Nagy/Andy Reid Offense

| April 8th, 2019

Like I have previously done with wide receivers and running backs, today I’m going to look at tight ends who have been drafted for this offense to see if there’s a physical profile they typically follow. In order to increase the sample size, I looked at every tight end drafted for a Reid offense in Philadelphia (1999-2012, 2016-18 with Doug Pederson) or Kansas City (2013-present). This list included ten players. Then I combed through their Combine performance to see if any patterns emerged.

Full data can be viewed here, but in general I found three trends:

  1. They are light. According to Mock Draftable, the average tight end at the Combine weighs in at around 255 pounds, but the average for the 10 TEs in this sample was just under 250 pounds. The heaviest tight end here was L.J. Smith, who weighed in at 258 pounds, in just the 67th percentile for all tight ends. Meanwhile, 3 of the 10 tight ends weighed in at 245 pounds or less, which falls in the bottom 15% for all tight ends.
  2. They are fast. The average Combine 40 time for all TEs is 4.72 seconds, but for this sample it was 4.70. That is significantly skewed by Cornelius Ingram, who ran a 4.96. If you remove him from the sample, the average 40 time for the other 9 players is 4.67 seconds, with 7 of the 9 coming in under 4.70. Ingram ended up being a poor fit in Reid’s offense, as he lasted just one year in Philadelphia after being drafted in the 5th round.
  3. They can jump. The average tight end at the Combine has a vertical jump of just under 33 inches, but the average in this sample is 34.3, with 8 of the 10 coming in at 33 inches or better.

This then gives us a rough profile of a tight end who would be targeted as a pass catcher in this offense. They should be under 260 pounds, run a sub 4.70 40, and have a 33″ or better vertical jump. These all make sense. The main purpose of a TE in this offense (at least for the U TE) is to be able to catch passes. They need to be athletic and able to challenge defenses down the field.

Now let’s look at which tight ends in the draft this year fit the profile. The table below shows all of the tight ends from the Combine, sorted by how many thresholds they hit. Misses are highlighted in red.


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Bears Offense Should Take Significant Step Forward in 2019

| January 21st, 2019

Chicago’s defense was awesome in 2018, leading the NFL in points allowed, turnovers forced, touchdowns scored, and passer rating against. They also finished third in yards and sacks and were generally the best defense in the NFL by a wide margin. Their play propelled the Bears to a 12-4 finish, NFC North title, and the franchise’s first playoff berth in eight years.

It’s hard to expect much improvement from that unit in 2019. In fact, they’re almost certainly not going to repeat that level of dominance. So when I write that I expect the Bears to improve in 2019 and be one of the top Super Bowl contenders, that must mean I expect it to happen because of the offense.

Unlike the defense, there is plenty of room for improvement on that side of the ball. Chicago had a pretty mediocre offense in 2018. They finished:

  • 21st in yards per game
  • 20th in yards per play
  • 9th in points per game
  • 20th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, an all-encompassing metric intended to evaluate an entire unit.

Outside of points per game – which was likely aided by all the turnovers and defensive touchdowns – the offense was pretty consistently below average in most important metrics. So why am I so confident the offense will improve next year, even though they probably won’t be making many significant personnel changes?

To put it simply: NFL history strongly suggests that significant improvement is coming.

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ATM: White and Miller Could Make Bears Attack Very Different

| August 1st, 2018

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have tried to build the 2018 Chicago Bears offense to be like those Nagy’s mentor Andy Reid had success with in the past. But they may have stumbled into something very different and entirely more fascinating. If Kevin White and Anthony Miller are both able to continue to play at the level they have in the early days of training camp, the Bears won’t have a choice but to put both on the field. That could change the entire offense.

While generally thought of as an offense that spreads the ball around, that hasn’t really been the case. In five years, Reid’s Chiefs have averaged:

  • 19.6% of their targets to the top receiver
  • 18% to the pass-catching tight end
  • 16.9% to running backs

Those numbers mostly held up with Doug Pederson in Philadelphia. His Eagles averaged:

  • 20.5% of their targets to the top receiver
  • 18.6% to the pass-catching tight end
  • 15% to running backs

Where it gets interesting, however, is when you look at the other positions. There you will find very little consistency.

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Which Reid Offense Will Chicago Most Resemble?

| July 9th, 2018

There’s been a good deal of talk this offseason about how the Bears will model their offense after the Kansas City Chiefs, which makes sense given that new head coach Matt Nagy spent his last several years in Kansas City learning from Andy Reid.

But I think Chicago’s offense will end up looking more similar to what Philadelphia has run the last two years under Doug Pederson, another branch on the Reid coaching tree. Even though both offenses are similar, there are some subtle yet important differences that are worth looking at. So today I want to start by looking at personnel to see which one Chicago matches better, and then I’ll compare and contrast offensive styles.

Personnel

Kansas City’s offense was built around three main producers: running back Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce. Those three combined for 4,069 of Kansas City’s 6,007 yards from scrimmage, meaning they were about 2/3 of the offense.

Quite frankly, the Bears just aren’t built to be that reliant on a small number of players. Outside of Jordan Howard and Allen Robinson, nobody has been a high-volume producer, and even Robinson has only hit 1,000 yards in a season once in his four years.

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Will Adam Shaheen Have a Role in the Matt Nagy Offense?

| May 9th, 2018

John Fox’s coaching staff was bashed for not getting the ball to rookie tight end Adam Shaheen enough, but that doesn’t figure on changing much under Matt Nagy. Shaheen played just over 24% of the snaps last year. That number should increase in 2018, provided he can beat out Dion Sims as the starting in-line tight end. But if the moves this team has recently made turn out the way they think, it’s hard to see Shaheen catching a lot of passes in 2018.

Trey Burton & Friends

He’s not much of a blocker, but the Bears signed Burton to be their top tight end. The Bears made him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league. That’s not happening if they don’t expect him to play nearly every snap. 

Burton’s signing alone didn’t indicate a smaller role for Shaheen. The club also invested heavily at receiver by paying Allen Robinson star money, Taylor Gabriel starter money and trading a 2019 second rounder to draft Anthony Miller with the 51st pick. Not only did the Bears spend a high pick on Miller, but they reportedly tried to move back up into the end of the first round to draft Calvin Ridley.

Their aggressiveness at the position is a strong indication that they’re going to have three receivers on the field quite a bit. Not a surprise. In his time in Kansas City, Matt Nagy’s offenses rarely utilized the second tight end. Over the past five years, KC’s second tight end averaged just 5.6% of the team’s targets — 29 per season. This is about the same as the fourth wide receiver. The third receivers came in at 9.2%.

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Data Entry: Building a WR Profile for Chicago’s New Offense

| February 20th, 2018

The Combine approaches in a few weeks in Indianapolis, and with it an obsession over everything that can be measured. Height. Weight. Hand size. Three-cone. Jumping ability. Speed. Everybody will soon be discussing 40 times like they make the difference between a good and bad football player.

Before we get a bunch of data from the Combine, let’s take a look at which measurables might matter, specifically at wide receiver.

New head coach Matt Nagy comes from the Andy Reid offense in Kansas City, so I took a look at the Combine stats of WRs the Chiefs invested in  -either in the draft or free agency  -since Reid came to Kansas City in 2012. Basically, I wanted to find a physical profile for well-performing wide receivers in that offense that the Bears might look to follow this year. This can help us identify what wide receivers at the Combine might make sense as targets for the Bears in the draft.


Building the Profile

There were 8 Chiefs WRs identified that were drafted by them, signed to a substantial deal in free agency or earned a meaningful role with the team as an undrafted free agent since Reid took over in 2012. These players were Tyreek Hill, Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, Jehu Chesson, Demarcus Robinson, Da’Ron Brown, and De’Anthony Thomas. I used Mock Draftable to look up their Combine data (or found data from their pro day when the Combine was not available) in every category I could find, and compared it to the average WR mark in each of these categories that Mock Draftable has compiled. Full data can be seen here.

Many of the measurables didn’t show any clear pattern, but I identified three where players consistently scored well: 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Ten Thoughts From Around the League

| October 21st, 2015

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THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE

(1) Eli Manning was the best and worst player in the league on the FIRST TWO DRIVES of the Monday Night Football game. There’s never been a player like him in the league.

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(2) After the first week of the season it became in vogue to question whether Tampa Bay made a mistake selecting Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota. In the four games since Winston has been undoubtedly the better player and Mariota has shown two features that worried many scouts: inability to absorb contact and lack of ball security. Interestingly enough, nobody has revisited this question in the national media. If Winston wants to know how he’ll be covered an an NFL quarterback, he should just call Cam Newton.

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(3) Is Cincinnati the best team in football right now? New England and Green Bay are not good defensively. Carolina and Denver are not good offensively. Cincy does everything well. They’ll still lose in the playoffs but they may be losing that game in the division round instead of wild card weekend.

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(4) You know what the worst development of the NFL season has been? The games stink.

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(5) I don’t care what the stats say. Brandon Marshall has been the best wide receiver in football this year. He’s transformed the New York Jets offense.

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A New Cutler Emerges: Rapid Fire Reaction to the Suddenly Exciting 2-3 Chicago Bears

| October 12th, 2015

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Where do we start? Oh yeah, the quarterback.

  • There can’t be more outlets – mainstream media or internet – who’ve been more strident in their belief that Jay Cutler can be a winning quarterback than right here. The last two weeks he’s shown why. If the Bears are in the game, if their defense does not allow 300 points, if Cutler is put in a position to win…he can go out and beat any team in the league.
  • Cutler’s touchdown pass to Marquess Wilson was the prettiest throw I’ve ever seen from a Bears quarterback.
  • Cutler dropping the snap, picking it up and finding Forte with defenders at his feet TO WIN THE GAME was no less impressive.
  • Jay still makes mechanical mistakes on a lot of throws, especially when there’s pressure coming from his blind side. Just needs to step into his throws and deliver the ball.
  • Matt Forte might just deserve a two-year extension. I don’t care how old he is. He’s playing like a 25 year-old.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: Bears Attempt to Get a Season Going in Kansas City

| October 9th, 2015

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BLOCK EM AND BEAT EM!

If the Chiefs, with nine sacks on the season, don’t get to the opposing quarterback, it’s over. That might be true for many teams but it’s particularly true for a team with Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Allen Bailey. Houston has three sacks and per Gil Brandt leads the league in total pressures with 19. He’s a magnificent player. What are the solutions? Well Hue Jackson, Andy Dalton and Bengals provided them…

  • Quick passing game that’s been effective under Cutler through two and a half games. (See the single play breakdown below) The Chiefs secondary is awful so Cutler has to get the ball into the hands of his receivers and give them a chance to make plays.
  • Read option looks. Dalton is not a running quarterback but the Bengals showed enough read option, specifically to Houston’s side, to keep the rush on its heels. Can Cutler’s hamstring be healed enough to even hint at the possibility of a run threat?
  • Power run game up the middle. This should be a week where the Bears pound Forte up the gut and allow Kyle Long to release off the line of scrimmage after Houston. Houston is an excellent pass rusher but he’s a bit lost in run support. Long should be able to muscle him off the line.

THE GAME POEM

On the head of an arrow

lay a drop of blood

Darker than red

thicker than mud

To feel it

is to remember life

The sharpened blade

of this tribal knife

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Around the League Tweets – March 13th 2013!

| March 13th, 2014

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Around the League Tweets, Free Agency Ya Next Tuesday! 1 of 10. Aren’t the Oakland Raiders lucky the Cleveland Browns exist?

2 of 10. Can’t imagine Darren Sproles would have chosen Philly as an FA. Doubtful he wanted a team with a more dynamic, faster back.

3 of 10. One of my biggest surprises: Andy Reid letting Dexter McCluster leave KC w/out a fight. Struck me as pivotal weapon for Chiefs.

4 of 10. Harbaugh acquiring Blaine Gabbert & Jonathan Martin is him sending message: I can get to NFC title game w/the worst players in NFL.

5 of 10. There’s only player outside a Chicago Bears uniform I pull for to win Super Bowl: Steve Smith. Pound for pound best player in NFL.

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