209 Comments

Data Entry: A Realistic Best-Case Scenario for the Bears Future.

| March 9th, 2018

As everybody knows, it’s been a rough stretch for the Bears. They’ve won a total of 14 games in the three years since Ryan Pace took over and lost at least 10 games in each of those seasons.

Now many fans, myself included, see a young quarterback in place and a new coaching staff designed to help him succeed. Better times are on the horizon. After all, teams with a good QB on a cheap rookie contract are usually pretty good for most of that deal. If you believe Trubisky will be even an average NFL QB, things should be looking up for the Bears.

But before I get too carried away planning a downtown parade route, I want to look at recent history to get a sense of a realistic best-case scenario for what the Bears’ next few seasons could look like. Again, I want to emphasize this is not what the Bears’ next few seasons will look like. This is an historically realistic, best-case scenario.

But hey, free agency is starting next week and we’re all dreaming big, so let’s have some fun.


Playoffs

The first goal has to be making the playoffs, so let’s start there.

Since the Bears are on a bad three-year run, I looked at all playoff teams since 2007 and tracked their performance in the three years before making the playoffs.

The table below shows averages and low values for wins each season, plus the number of teams (out of 132) who had marks the same as or worse than the Bears. Full data can be seen here.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

245 Comments

ATM: Guessing The Bears 2018 Big Board

| March 7th, 2018

Under Ryan Pace, the Bears have primarily targeted great athletes at positions of need in the first round. After the Combine, there’s no reason to expect that to be different this year. Here is how I suspect the team’s Big Board may look, as of today, with the assumption that top players like Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley and Minkah Fitzpatrick will already be off the board.

10. Da’Shawn Hand, DL, Alabama

It’s entirely possible that the Bears are sick of waiting for Jon Bullard to emerge. There’s no reason Bullard shouldn’t have been starting over Mitch Unrein in his second season, but it didn’t happen. The Bears need a third stud up front so they don’t run Akiem Hicks into the ground.

9.  Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley came in a bit smaller than expected and didn’t test very well, coming in the seventh SPARQ percentile. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a good receiver, but it’s unlikely that he’ll be a great one and probably not worth a top 10 pick. Still, he could be a good option for the Bears if they were to trade back into the middle of the first round. More likely, their best bet will be addressing the receiver position in free agency.

8. Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State

Doesn’t have the size or length the Bears look for at cornerback but he’s such a great athlete, they could overlook that. Generally thought to be the best CB in the draft.

7. Quenton Nelson, OL, Notre Dame

There’s a lot to be said about taking a guard in the top 10 but much of it could be moot if a team were to switch Nelson to tackle. Regardless, I don’t think the Bears would’ve hired the best offensive line coach in the world to take an already-polished guard in the top 10. Harry Hiestand gives the Bears the ability to take a guard in the mid-round and count on him developing into a stud so they can use their premium picks on premium positions.

6. Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College

This is my personal favorite option for the Bears but he falls just short of their arm-length standard. Landry’s arms measured 32.875 inches and if you look back at Pace and Fangio’s recent histories, you’ll see that 17 of the 19 defensive line and edge players their teams have drafted have had arms measuring at least 33 inches with the only exceptions being late round picks. Is Landry close enough? I hope so, but the evidence suggests otherwise.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

137 Comments

ATM: Players to Watch At The Combine

| February 28th, 2018

The NFL’s annual meat market is here.

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you it doesn’t matter. The Bears, in particular, seem to value athleticism with their early picks and there’s no reason to think this year will be any different.

Here are a few players to watch when the combine really gets rolling later this week.


Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley is generally thought to be the top wide receiver but there are questions about whether or not he deserves to be a top-10 pick.

After a 1,000-yard season as a freshman, Ridley failed to reach that mark again in his final two years. While much of the blame for that has gone to Alabama’s horrendous quarterback play, there are still questions about the wideout.

One major thing NFL teams will need to see is if Ridley is taller than six-feet, like he is listed. If he comes in shorter, teams are going to question his ability to play outside. Since 2010 only two receivers who measured under six-feet were drafted in the top-10. Neither — Tavon Austin and John Ross —  have worked out so far.

Even if he is six-foot-one, Ridley needs to show he has at least good athletic ability to create separation from defenders.

Read DBB’s Saturday Scout column on Ridley HERE.


Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech

You don’t often see off-the-ball linebackers who look and move like Edmunds.

Expected to measure in at around 6’5″, 250 pounds, Edmunds is a player a lot of teams are going to want to take a close look at. In addition to his freakish size, he flies around the ball and could be a menace covering the middle of the field.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,

136 Comments

Data Entry: Projecting Contracts For Possible Receiver Targets

| February 27th, 2018

In the last two weeks, I’ve outlined both what the Bears need to add at WR this off-season and what players in free agency should fit that profile/the new offense. At the end of that work, I came up with the following two lists, suggesting that the Bears work to sign one player from each group.

Tier 1 (750+ yard receivers)

Marqise Lee, Jordan Matthews, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders (if cut)

Tier 2 (500+ yard receivers)

Albert Wilson, Kendall Wright, John Brown, Taylor Gabriel, Paul Richardson, Jaron Brown

Now I want to look at what types of contracts those players should expect in free agency to see how expensive these moves would likely be for the Bears. In order to do that, you need to compare the contracts signed by similar players (in both age and past production) who hit free agency in recent years. This gives you a general baseline for the ballpark a new contract should probably be in, though of course there are no guarantees this is exactly how it works out.

In an effort to be as accurate as possible, I also accounted for inflation, since the cap keeps going up every year. It’s jumped by about $10 million a year every year since 2015, and is expected to do the same again this year. Thus the comparable contracts were multiplied by the following scaling factors to get the predicted value, depending on when they were signed (some slight adjustments were made for greater/worse production):

  • 2015: 1.24
  • 2016: 1.15
  • 2017: 1.07

Let’s look through each target 1 by 1, with a few brief comments. Full data for production of targets and free agent contracts can be seen here. All contract information is from Spotrac.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

185 Comments

ATM: Trubisky, Pace Could Put Bears Atop NFC North With Big Off-Season

| February 22nd, 2018

In twelve months we could be talking about the Bears as the kingpin of the NFC North, as long as General Manager Ryan Pace pushes the right buttons and quarterback Mitch Trubisky takes a big step in the seven months leading up the 2018 season.

It seems crazy to suggest the team that has finished last in the division the last four seasons could win it next year. But 12 months ago it would’ve been crazy to suggest the Rams could win the NFC West or that the Eagles could win the Super Bowl. The Bears have talent on their roster, they just need two of the three most important men in their organization to deliver.

A lot of credit has been given to the coaching staffs of the Eagles and the Rams –  deservedly so – but their quarterbacks took a leap largely because of their off-season work away from the organization. Both had personal quarterback coaches who helped them hone their fundamentals, an area Trubisky needed a lot of improvement in last year.

A new coaching staff and offense could help Trubisky, but he needs to improve his footwork if he’s ever going to be a great starting quarterback. He seems to understand that because he has already spent time this off-season working with Jared Goff and coaches Tom House and Adam Dedeaux at 3DQB.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

210 Comments

Across The Middle: Bears Should Think Bigger Than Chiefs

| February 14th, 2018

When Matt Nagy was hired as Bears head coach, comparisons to Kansas City – both their talent and approach – were immediately made by fans and media alike. How would the Bears find their version of Chiefs Player X? Who would the Bears target to run Chiefs Concept Y? But the Bears should be thinking bigger — literally and figuratively.

As exciting as Kansas City’s offense was last year, they were relatively easy to defend when the field shortened and their speed became less of a factor. The result was a shockingly bad red zone team. After ranking 30th in red zone scoring % in 2016, the team only increased to 29th last year. These were the two seasons Nagy has had at least a share of the offensive coordinator tittle.

In those two years, Kansas City scored on just 43.8% of their red zone trips. And it wasn’t like they had a bad kicker — their kickers made 47-of-51 attempts from 39 yards or less. They just couldn’t get into the end zone.

Over the same stretch under Dowell Loggains, the Bears scored on 55% of their red zone attempts. While the Bears had 23 fewer trips inside the red zone, they only managed one less score.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

82 Comments

Sunday Data Entry: Understanding Where the Bears Currently Stand with the Salary Cap

| February 11th, 2018

The questions…

  • Where do the Bears now sit relative to the cap?
  • How much money do they have to work with?
  • How much can they create with cuts?
  • What players of their own do they have to re-sign before looking for improvements elsewhere?

I know the salary cap can be confusing, so I try to break it down step-by-step as much as possible here. If you’re not interested in the specifics, you can just jump to the end for general numbers. All salary data comes courtesy of Spotrac.


Current Cap

The table below shows the Bears’ current cap situation.

Every line is important for the math, but the bottom line, highlighted in yellow, tells you they have roughly $32.1 million to spend after accounting for the likely contracts of their upcoming draft picks.

If you care where that number comes from, I’ll explain below the table. If not, just keep that $32.1 million in mind and jump to the next section.

The gray areas up top are the current cap expenses the Bears have.

  • Their 51 players under contract have a combined cap hit of $143.8 million.
  • They have $1.2 million in dead cap (money previously paid to cut players that didn’t count under previous caps).
  • Their draft picks are estimated to use up $7.6 million of cap space.

This all adds up to $152.6 million. Those numbers are broken down on a player by player basis here.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

177 Comments

Across The Middle: Alshon’s Inflated Contract Could Prohibit Bears From Attacking Receiver in FA

| February 7th, 2018

Whether they did it knowingly or not, by giving Alshon Jeffery a huge extension during the season, the Philadelphia Eagles made their success model next to impossible to duplicate.

The Eagles gave Jeffery the kind of contract the Bears would not, especially coming off his shaky-at-best 2016. AJ will average $13 million per season for the next 4 years, with a total guarantee of roughly $27 million. The Eagles are the champs so every move looks golden but what they actually did was inflate the wide receiver market by paying a premier contract to a non-premier player.

The Bears have come under constant criticism for not bringing Jeffery back but:

  • He hasn’t had 1,000 yards or 10 touchdowns in a season since 2014.
  • This year he caught less than half of his targets for the Eagles.
  • After the Patriots switched Stephon Gilmore on to Jeffery in the Super Bowl, he became a ghost. It looked like it would be easy to point to Sunday and say the Bears should’ve paid him, but that game is exactly why Ryan Pace didn’t. What happened to Jeffery doesn’t happen to number one receivers and now Jeffery is paid like one.

And other receivers will want to cash in.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

48 Comments

Data Entry: Self-Scouting Chicago’s 2017 Offense

| February 6th, 2018

Chicago’s offense was generally bad in 2017. We all know this. They finished 30th in the NFL in yards per game and 29th in points scored.

Those types of basic stats are easy for anybody to look up, and they can help paint an overall picture of how effective a unit performed. They do not. however, tell a complete tale. It can be useful to look deeper and see in what areas the Bears might have struggled, as well as where they might have done well. This can be useful to help identify specific areas of strength to build on going forward, as well as areas that need to be addressed through personnel and/or scheme improvements.

In an effort to do this, I used the NFL Game Statistics Information System to look at Chicago’s offensive stats in a bit more detail. I broke down rushing and passing attempts by areas of the field to see where they target the most and how successful they are. Let’s have a look.

Rushing Attack

Chicago’s overall run game was solid in 2017; they finished 16th in rushing yards, 11th in yards per carry, and 11th in touchdowns. Now let’s break it down by different areas of the field.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

70 Comments

Data Entry: Bears’ Contract Options for Kyle Fuller

| February 1st, 2018

As we all know, Kyle Fuller had a breakout season in 2017 after missing all of 2016 with a knee injury. He led the NFL in passes broken up and ranked 17th among all cornerbacks in both completion percentage and passer rating allowed, per Pro Football Focus. Now general manager Ryan Pace has to decide what to do with Fuller, who is set to enter unrestricted free agency as one of the top cornerbacks on the market.

Let’s take a look at his options.

Franchise Tag

One weapon at Pace’s disposal is the franchise tag, which would guarantee Fuller the average of the top 5 cap hits at the cornerback position in 2018. Right now, that would look like a one year, $15.3 million contract that is fully guaranteed (per Spotrac). Pace can choose to apply this tag at any point between February 20 and March 6, and it seems likely to happen unless the Bears and Fuller can reach a long-term agreement first.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

© Da' Bears Blog