193 Comments

Week 16: NFC North Champions at 49ers Game Preview

| December 20th, 2018

“So whoop-de-do and hickory dock
And don’t forget to hang up your sock.”


Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears…

…and what’s not to like about this 2018 vintage? Seriously. They’re not just good. They are an extremely likable group of fellas.


Five Generic Thoughts on the Game

  • Does the result matter for the Bears Sunday? Probably not. But the performances of Deon Bush, filling in for Eddie Jackson, and the rotational third edge rushers (Isaiah Irving, Kylie Fitts…etc.) are pivotal. Matt Nagy seemed optimistic when evaluating the injuries of Jackson and Aaron Lynch but neither looked good. If the Bears have to play a postseason game without one or both, they’ll need these depth pieces to step up and play well.
  • If you listened to Tuesday’s Hoge & Jahns podcast – and you’re stupid if you don’t listen to every one of their pods – you heard an interesting discussion on how Nagy will handle these games. My guess? Nagy is done putting anything on tape that will help a postseason opponent. No creative looks. No gadget plays. No defensive linemen in the offensive backfield. Sunday should have a preseason feel to it: one-on-one match-ups the Bears will be expected to win because they’re the better, deeper roster by a wide margin.
  • Quarterback rating is a flawed statistic but it’s the best stat the NFL has to quantify performance at the position. Mitch Trubisky is ten points worse (97.2 to 87.6) on the road than he is at home, primarily because his TD-to-INT is drastically better at Soldier Field. If the Bears expect to make a deep run in January, Trubisky is most likely going to need a great game in either Los Angeles or New Orleans. He could use a confidence builder on Sunday afternoon.
  • The Niners aren’t going to beat the Bears on the outside but tight end George Kittle has been one of the league’s revelations in 2018. Teams have tried to cover him with corners, with linebackers, with safeties. But the Pro Bowler has made plays every single week. Kittle vs. Roquan Smith could be the best match-up of the week but the Bears will likely rotate their defenders to him, including Leonard Floyd.
  • San Francisco does not sport a particularly good pass rush, rarely intercept the ball (2 all year) and all allow opposing quarterbacks to play to a 103.1 rating – better than only Detroit and Tampa Bay. Detroit and Tampa Bay were Mitch Trubisky’s most prolific statistical outputs. This is a good match-up for the Bears QB.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

52 Comments

Who Could Be the 2018 Breakout Bears: Defense

| June 20th, 2018

When the Bears officially re-introduced defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, he kept telling reporters the most important thing the Bears need to do is get improvement from their returning players. This is something that certainly isn’t a given.

By nearly any measurement, the Bears had a top-15 overall defense last year. They were far from perfect — the inability to take the ball away still being a major issue. But they were more than good enough and are bringing back most of the roster.

Still, the team has some young players who could make a big impact in 2018. Here’s a look at five defenders who just could have breakout seasons like Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos had for the team a year ago.


Deon Bush

It’s hard to expect a lot from a guy who played about 8% more snaps on defense than I did last year, but Bush still has some promise. Fangio singled him out during minicamp practices and there were reports of the young safety showing great range and getting his hands on the ball during those sessions. The reports were enough to reconsider Bush as a possible playmaker.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

42 Comments

Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s draft profile, day 3

| April 17th, 2018

The last in a three-part series, breaking down Ryan Pace’s approach to the NFL Draft when it comes to prospects. Today, day three, rounds four through seven.


Draft History

2015: RB Jeremy Langford (R4), S Adrian Amos (R5), T Tayo Fabuluje (R6)

2016: LB Nick Kwiatkoski (R4), S Deon Bush (R4), CB Deiondre’ Hall (R4), RB Jordan Howard (R5), S DeAndre Houston-Carson (R6), WR Daniel Braverman (R7)

2017: S Eddie Jackson (R4), RB Tarik Cohen (R4), OL Jordan Morgan (R5)


Trend 1

Prioritize Rounds 4-5

Under Ryan Pace, the Bears are averaging two round 4 picks per year and are currently slated to have two in 2018. They will potentially have more if Pace trades down in round 2 again, as is he wont.

The Bears also acquired a fifth round pick in the Brandon Marshall deal. These are the rounds where he likes to operate, and he has done quite well, landing five solid contributors in three years: Adrian Amos, Nick Kwiatkoski, Jordan Howard, Eddie Jackson, Tarik Cohen.

On the flip side, Pace doesn’t seem to care much about round 6 or 7, where he has made only three picks total through three years. He’s made several trades sending these picks out.

  • 6th for Khari Lee
  • Throw-ins for a trade on day two that netted extra 4ths
  • 6th to move up for Kwiatkoski
  • Throw-in 7th to get 5th back when trading Brandon Marshall to Jets
  • Conditional 2018 7th for Inman that they kept in 2018.

Don’t be surprised to see one of those traded away, perhaps to help move up for a coveted player in round 4.

Read More …

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

222 Comments

Data Responds: Bears at Bengals

| December 10th, 2017

Is this real life?

The Bears dominated on both sides of the ball, scored 30 points for the first time in over two years, and generally rolled over the dormant Cincinnati Bengals.

I know Cincinnati is bad and banged up, but so are the Bears, and this was a lot of fun. More importantly, this as led largely by young players for the Bears, which bodes well for the future. Let’s take a look at what happened.

Offense

  • The Bears came out and threw it on their first 2 plays! The first resulted in an awful Jordan Howard drop (drink), while the second was a beautiful play action rollout to Josh Bellamy for a 1st down. This unsurprisingly caught the Bengals’ defense off guard, and they backed off the defense into standard 7 man boxes instead of loading 8-9 up. As a result, the Bears ran it the next two plays for about 40 yards and a touchdown. That marked the first time this season that the offense scored a touchdown on their first possession of the game.
  • Before I get too down on Howard, how about giving it up for a great game from Chicago’s stud running back? He had his 12th 100 yard rushing game in 26 career starts and passed the 1,000 yard mark for the 2nd year in a row, making him the first running back in Chicago history to start his career that way. That’s pretty remarkable when you think of the great running backs who have played in Chicago.

Read More …

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

365 Comments

Bears Secondary: A Perceived Weakness May Be a Blossoming Strength

| June 22nd, 2016

porter

One position group quite a few people wished the Bears did a better job addressing this offseason was the secondary. But, despite not having any household names, they’re better back there than most think.

In 2015 the Bears defense ranked fourth in passing yardage allowed. But that’s not the eye-opening statistic. The thing that jumps out is a new metric Football Outsiders started using last year called ALEX, named after everyone’s favorite Checkdown Charlie, Alex Smith. The number ranks how often defenses forced quarterbacks to throw short of the first down marker — a clear sign of good coverage.

The Bears were the best in the sport.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

253 Comments

Around the Beat: Samplings from the Papers

| May 9th, 2016

grasu

BIGGS ON GRASU

If Hroniss Grasu develops into a frontline center, the Bears may have a terrific offensive line in 2016. But Grasu would have to make a significant leap if that’s going to be the case. From Biggs in the Trib:

The statistics in the eight games Grasu started last season and the other eight games that were split between Slauson and Will Montgomery are similar with one glaring difference. I tallied the stats for Jay Cutler’s 15 starts, (excluding the dud of a performance in Seattle in Week 3 when Jimmy Clausen was at quarterback) and what jumps out is the Bears averaged 4.22 yards per carry with Slauson and Montgomery at center. With Grasu, they averaged 3.77, nearly a half-yard less.

If the Bears had a high level of confidence in Grasu, they wouldn’t have made three additions even while removing Slauson from the equation. When the season opens Sept. 11 in Houston, left tackle Charles Leno could be the only starter in a position he played for the team last season.

My favorite line in the piece? “One front-office guy said his team nearly drafted Whitehair about 20 picks before the Bears.” I maintain a firm belief that Whitehair is going to be a ten-year star at guard for the Bears.

JAHNS ON THE UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS

Adam’s piece in the Sun-Times is a solidly comprehensive breakdown of all the UFAs but I’m sampling the one position they may have had been most focused on: tight end.

Read More …

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