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Bears at the Mini-Bye Volume II: Offensive Personnel Usage

| October 14th, 2020


I already looked at a variety of statistics for the offense, including QB performance, run game woes, and explosive plays. Today I want to explore how the Bears are deploying their skill position players, using lineup data from the NFL Game Statistics Information System. This tracks how many plays the Bears have played with different combination of 11 offensive players, and splits the data into runs and passes, with yards gained for each. Combing through this data can provide valuable insights into how the Bears are deploying their personnel, and what packages have been most and least effective.


Tight Ends

The Bears completely overhauled this position in the offseason, following a disastrous 2019 campaign in which no player even hit 100 receiving yards. They gave Jimmy Graham a big contract, spent their 1st pick (43rd overall) on Cole Kmet, and brought in veteran journeyman Demetrius Harris.

I want to start by looking at Cole Kmet, who has been very quiet so far as a rookie despite receiving a good bit of training camp hype. Through five games, Kmet has played 102 snaps, seen 3 pass targets, and caught 1 ball for 12 yards. This is hugely disappointing, and worrisome for his future; when I looked at rookie seasons for TEs drafted in the 2nd round this offseason, I found that tight ends who are going to be good are typically involved in the offense right away. The only tight ends drafted in the 2nd round over the last 10 years to receive fewer than 30 targets in their rookie seasons are Vance McDonald, Adam Shaheen, Gavin Escobar, Drew Sample, and Troy Niklas. Of those, only Vance McDonald has done anything in the NFL. Kmet is currently on pace for 10 targets.

It’s fair to argue a rookie should see their production increase as the season wears on, so I looked at all 19 players in that study through the first five games of their rookie season. You can see the full list here, but Kmet has the 3rd fewest targets, least amount of catches, and the least number of yards through that time period. And for all of those categories, the bottom four (not including Kmet) are from the list of five names above. It’s early, but right now Kmet most closely resembles Troy Niklas and Adam Shaheen, which is very not good.

Because I was curious about Kmet, I split out lineups involving him vs. those who don’t, and also sorted by the number of tight ends on the field. The results, as you can see below, are certainly illuminating.

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ATM: Wims Deserves a Longer Look

| October 1st, 2019


Even after Taylor Gabriel exits concussion protocol and returns to the starting lineup, Matt Nagy must find a way to keep Javon Wims on the field. The second-year WR did not dominate on Sunday. Far from it. And he certainly isn’t getting confused for Randy Moss anytime soon. But his performance against the Vikings stood out enough for him to be given a chance to help this offense escape their current rut.

His presence gives the team another big target, which could be help a quarterback who struggles keeping the ball down. Chase Daniel used Wims’ size multiple times in the game, most notably on a 37-yard lob that helped the Bears get out of the shadow of their own end zone. The pass ended up being under thrown, but Wims made a nice adjustment in the air to make it look like a back-shoulder throw. Daniel probably wouldn’t have thrown the pass if he didn’t think the receiver could win a jump ball.

Wims can adjust in the air. That we knew. But that played showed he can also get deep. He roasted Trae Waynes and it would’ve been a much bigger gain had the throw been on-target. That speed is new to Wims and something Prince Amukamara noted in the off-season:

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Across The Middle: Bears Receiver Depth Should Be A Concern

| April 9th, 2019

The Bears seem to like their wide receivers right now, but that shouldn’t stop them from looking hard at the position in the draft later this month.

The top three of Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Taylor Gabriel appear to be set, but there are a bunch of question marks after that, for both 2019 and the future. Assuming Robinson is better another year removed from knee surgery and Miller takes a step as second-year receivers tend to do, the team’s top three receivers are really quite good. Unless, of course, someone were to get injured, which tends to happen in the NFL.

Both Robinson and Miller missed some time last year and the result was Josh Bellamy playing 321 snaps and Kevin White getting an additional 170. While White’s snaps and position are going to be easily replaced by free agent signee Cordarrelle Patterson, fans shouldn’t underestimate the loss of Bellamy.

Ideally, Bellamy would be replaced by Javon Wims, but Wims is anything but proven.

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The Best Collection of Thoughts Ever Assembled on the Bears v. Chiefs Practice Game

| August 25th, 2018

LAKE FOREST, IL – MAY 16: Chicago Bears wide receiver Marlon Brown (81) participates during the Bears OTA session on May 16, 2018 at Halas Hall, in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)


Twitter exploded with the news that Matt Nagy was putting his entire roster on the bench. Hell, even Josh Bellamy got the afternoon off. But who types primarily with his middle fingers and is happier than a clam about the news? This guy.

  • Matt Nagy’s decision to sit the bulk of his starting lineup isn’t bold or brilliant. It’s practical. He’d rather his first units be a little bit rusty on opening night than be without any of their best players. Even this idea is kind of kooky because the Bears are still fifteen days from their first real game. How could 25 snaps in the preseason carryover for half a month? That’s not how football works.
  • Why is Nick Kwiatkoski starting? Perhaps because he’s not the starting ILB? Kwik has had a good summer but he’s simply not in the same athletic stratosphere as Roquan Smith. Expect the Bears to spend the next two weeks getting their number one pick ready for Green Bay.
  • Marlon Brown’s downfield block was the key to the opening drive Benny Cunningham TD. And it continues Brown’s strong summer. Hate to make everything about Kevin White but it just feels like his relevance is sliding continually as players like Brown show versatility.
  • Chase Daniel has really gotten better each time I’ve seen him this preseason. Looks poised. But his legs were damn impressive against Kansas City’s first-team defense.
  • Kylie Fitts has found himself one-on-one with the opposing quarterback, in the backfield, several times this preseason. The QB has escaped each time. That Fitts is in position to make big plays is a good thing. That he’s not making will land him on the practice squad. (Update: Later in the game, against some QB I’ve never heard of, Fitts finished a play.)

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ATM: Javon Wims & the Annual Romance With Camp Receivers

| August 8th, 2018

[Administrative Note: This is not the first time DBB has ventured down this road, with one of our most famous columns being the aptly-titled “The Joe Anderson Boner”. It’s a nice read to set the stage for today’s piece from Andrew.]


“He’s special.”

                                                      -Some guy on Twitter, re: Javon Wims

I could hardly believe it when someone on Twitter sent those words to @DaBearsBlog about any player during the fourth quarter of the Hall of Fame game. But there it was. And Javon Wims, in that moment, became a camp darling. Some proclaimed Wims a seventh-round steal. Others actually said they’d rather have him than Kevin White, now and for the foreseeable future. Adam Hoge and Adam Jahns praised Wims on their weekly podcast and openly wondered if White should make the team.

Let’s rewind a bit.

• First of all, Wims dropped to the seventh round for a reason. I took a look at the ten receivers who were drafted before him and only two had fewer collegiate receptions and none posted worse athletic scores. He was praised as the leading receiver on one of the best teams in the nation but he only caught 47 passes.

• Secondly, he wasn’t having a good camp. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying to you or they don’t know what they’re watching. Don’t believe me? According to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times, wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said Wims had “struggled for a couple weeks.”

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The 2018 Chicago Bears Draft Class

| April 28th, 2018

Come back Monday morning to read big-picture analysis of the front office’s approach to these three days. For now, here are the newest members of the Chicago Bears with a quick blurb from yours truly.


Round 1 – Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

Honestly, ten years from now, fans should be debating where Smith ranks among the great middle linebackers in Bears history. That’s what an organization should expect when drafting a player at this position this high. Ryan Pace needs this to be Roquan’s defense for the next decade plus.


Round 2 – James Daniels, C/G, Iowa

Immediate starter. The Bears now have one of the league’s best interior o-lines (Daniels-Whitehair-Long) and one of the league’s three finest offensive line coaches. If he stays healthy, Jordan Howard may find himself in the MVP conversation this season.


Round 2 – Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis

A text from a friend in the league: “He was the highest wide receiver on our board.” The Bears gave up a lot to get Miller and will put a lot on his shoulders quickly. Expect him to start in the slot in the opener against Green Bay.


Round 4 – Joel Iyegbuniwe, ILB, Western Kentucky

This most interesting pick of the week for Pace. If the Bears intend to play him inside, he’ll have a near-impossible time getting on the field. But he profiles similarly to Brendon Ayanbadejo – a solid defensive depth piece who excels on special teams. (If he sticks I’m sure I’ll need to Google the spelling of his name just as many times as I did Ayanbadejo’s in his career.)


Round 5 – Bilal Nichols, DT, Delaware

Akiem Hicks wore down in 2017. Eddie Goldman has an injury history. Nichols is being drafted to work steadily into the rotation and give these two great players a breather. In 2017 he simply devoured blockers in the middle of a 3-4 line. In 2016, according to Mike Mayock, he showed burst and acceleration getting to the quarterback. Rarely should one have expectations for a fifth-round pick. In this case, have some.


Round 6 – Kylie Fitts, Edge, Utah

Worth the risk for an athlete this impressive at a need position off the edge. Fitts has a terrific chance to be a real contributor to this Bears defense if he stays healthy. The problem? He’s rarely healthy. But it’s the sixth round. Why not? 


Round 7 – Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

A big dude who consistently makes highlight reel catches. Can he separate from pro corners? Doubtful. But with his size and speed, it’s impossible to rule him out of having a plausible chance to make some kind of impact in 2018.

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