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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Enthusiasm, Pass Rush & Much More on the Gambling Front!

| May 21st, 2018

Some General Bears Thoughts

  • The first year of Trestman came with a lot of enthusiasm around the offense but nobody foresaw the defense plummeting to the bottom of the league. (There was also a segment of the fan base that refused to be excited about anything involving Jay Cutler.) This year there is just as much enthusiasm around the offense with an expected top-ten unit on the other side of the ball. There is real excitement around this club right now. They better win games.
  • When DBB started there were like two other Bears bloggers. Now there are about 100. And I honestly don’t follow or read what 99% of them do. But I’d love to see the out-and-out lying stop. Stop pretending you have sources. Stop pretending you’re “told” things. Stop linking the team every seemingly-available player in the league so you can get ten more clicks. It took ten years of me grinding before anybody associated with the Bears (or the league) would even answer an email. Sadly, the lying shit reflects poorly on this site because we got the fucking word “blog” in our title.
  • Nobody should underestimate how little this team has in the pass rush department. It will keep them from being a dominant defense. Leonard Floyd is their only reliable rusher on the roster and he’s (a) inconsistent and (b) averaging 11 games played over his first two seasons. What happens to this defense if Floyd misses five games in 2018?

Finley: Defense Believes in Offense

From his piece this week in the Sun-Times, profiling Prince Amukamara’s decision to return to the Bears:

“I want to win a championship, and having Mitch here, that’s always the start,” he said after the Bears’ second organized-team-activity practice Wednesday. “The quarterback’s always the start, and just having Mitch and seeing his improvement and his effort . . . I’m sure some people saw, but even when Mitch was the backup, Mitch was staying after practice and always working hard. And you love seeing that in a quarterback, especially a backup.

‘‘I’ve always just saw greatness in him ever since then. I think this year he gets to really show it.”

Amukamara isn’t alone. Receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, who signed this offseason, hope Trubisky can get them a “third contract, or help them get their first ring,” Amukamara said.

“I think if guys came here to win, then, yeah, the quarterback should definitely be the first thing that you look at,” he said.

NFL players want to do two things: make a lot of money and win. And the hierarchy of those two things is a player-by-player thing. For wide receivers choosing where to land in free agency, the quarterback can enable both. That’s why Robinson and Gabriel chose Chicago.

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Tweet: Trubisky at Rookie Camp

| May 14th, 2018

Two thoughts on this:

  • This might feel like a slight gesture but it’s not. For the rookies in this camp, many desperate to make ANY roster, seeing the starting quarterback out there inspires them. It shows them this is not only important to them but important to the entire franchise. And it makes them work that much harder.
  • It’s a brilliant move by Mitch as this becomes HIS team. Every rookie at this camp will notice him. Every rookie that moves along with the Bears will remember his presence. Leadership is important, especially at the quarterback position. This is leader stuff.

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194 Comments

On the Cusp of Free Agency…

| March 12th, 2018

I like free agency week. It’s fun. It’s real. For the most part, unlike the draft, media and fans can accurately analyze what the acquisition of a certain player means for the acquiring club. (It also inevitably leads to NFL beat writers bitching at one another over “breaking news” and that’s ALWAYS fun.) Some thoughts for the Bears this week.


I. Don’t Go Nuts.

Yes, the fan base is hungry but free agency is almost never the time to feed them. Spend some money, sure, but spend wisely and spend young. Any long-term guaranteed cash should be invested in players who will be part of the team’s plans for the duration of Mitch Trubisky’s rookie contract.

Specifics

Don’t overpay for a Jimmy Graham or Trumaine Johnson, guys who will be well into their thirties when the Bears hope to be playing in the last game of the NFL season. The Bears are not the Eagles, trying to win another title. They are not even the Rams, who’ve been able to convince themselves they are on the precipice of a title despite a wildly misleading 2017. They need to be 8-8 or better in 2018. Then plug the final holes next off-season and go for it.


II. Make a Whitehair Decision.

The Bears have two elite interior offensive linemen. They severely hindered the development of Kyle Long by inanely moving him around the line due to a lack of a lack of sufficient talent on the roster. They are now in danger of doing the same to Cody Whitehair. Pick a position. If it’s center, fine. If it’s guard, fine. But make the decision now and approach free agency/draft accordingly.

Specifics

There’s been a lot of Zach Fulton talk surrounding the Bears and he’s a solid player. But what is he? A guard? A center? If the Bears are going to pay him substantial money, one would hope they’d have that question answered before they sign the first check.


III. Grab Two Receivers.

The Bears have two positions of dire need: wide receiver and pass rush. There are no edge rushers worth a damn on the market (and there rarely are). There are plenty of professional receivers available for purchase. Ryan Pace should not worry about whether a guy is a number one-type or a number two-type. He should simply add good, productive bodies to the room and then turn to the draft for getting to the quarterback.

Specifics

Allen Robinson will be 25 when the 2018 season begins. Albert Wilson will be 26. Are either elite receiving talents? No. But a wide receiving corps of Robinson, Wilson, Cam Meredith, Kendall Wright, Dontrelle Inman and anything from Kevin White is formidable. That’s a winning group at the position.


YOU MAY NOW LEGALLY TAMPER.

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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.

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Backing It Up: Should the Chicago Bears Draft Luke Falk as 2nd String QB?

| February 15th, 2018

The Chicago Bears have found their answer at starting quarterback, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely set at the position. It remains to be seen who else will be in the quarterback room with Trubisky this year, backing him up.

We know for sure one guy who won’t be there: Mike Glennon. Glennon’s a fine backup, and I’m sure he’ll land somewhere in 2018, but it won’t be Chicago. Then there’s Mark Sanchez, who undoubtedly proved an excellent mentor to Trubisky, and is someone I’d like to see stay with the organization in some capacity. I just don’t know if I want him out on the field if Trubisky gets injured. (Actually, I’m pretty sure I don’t.)

So what are the Bears to do?

Certainly there is never a shortage of veteran backups looking for a landing spot and the hot rumor has Matt Nagy looking at Chase Daniel this March. But there’s also another option: a rookie quarterback later in the draft.

When Ryan Pace was first hired as Chicago’s GM he was quoted as saying he wouldn’t be opposed to drafting a quarterback every year. Well he didn’t take any in years one and two, so maybe he’s due for another QB in year four?

One quarterback prospect expected to go in the later rounds, who has gotten a fair amount of press coverage due in part to making a positive impression on multiple teams during Senior Bowl week, is Washington State University quarterback Luke Falk.

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Data Entry: What Passing Targets do the Bears Need?

| February 13th, 2018

There has been and will continue to be a great deal of talk about how the Bears need to add at least one stud wide receiver to their roster this off-season. Everybody wants a Julio Jones or Antonio Brown, with good reason, and the Bears are in desperate need of an upgrade in talent at the position after a season in which they finished last in the NFL in both passing yards and touchdowns, 25th in yards per attempt, and 26th in passer rating.

The Bears are going to add more talent at WR. But what exactly do they need? Should they look for one great player, two good players, or three plus capable players?

In an attempt to answer this question, I looked at how top passing offenses split their production among targets in recent years. After all, that’s the ultimate goal for the Bears, right? They want to become one of the top passing offenses in the NFL.

Accordingly, I looked at top 10 passing teams according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA for each of 2015, 2016, and 2017 and tracked how many receiving yards each of their top 5 leaders in that category had for the season. While this DVOA stat is not a perfect metric, it is an attempt to measure the efficiency of a passing attack instead of volume, which you would get from just looking at passing yards. The full list can be seen here.


No Clear Pattern

The first thing that jumps out is that there is no single defined way to have a top 10 passing offense. Some teams did it with one clear stud and a bunch of secondary weapons. Others had two dominant targets. Some had no clear dominant target at all.

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Data Entry: Breaking Down Trubisky’s Interceptions

| January 23rd, 2018

In his rookie season, Mitch Trubisky got to play 12 games and throw the ball 330 times. In those 330 attempts, he threw 7 interceptions, which is actually pretty good. That rate – an interception on 2.1% of his throws – was 12th best in the NFL among qualified passers, ahead of established veterans like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers.

As that list above shows, there’s more to being a good quarterback than simply not throwing interceptions. But avoiding interceptions is an important part of a quarterback’s job; in no small part because they can be game-changing plays that make it a lot harder to win.

But not all interceptions are created equal. Sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it’s on the wide receiver, and sometimes it’s hard to tell. In general, I think you can group them all into one of four categories:

  1. Bad decision. These are throws that should never be made because the receiver isn’t open and a defender has a good chance at an interception. Bears fans have seen plenty of these in the last 8 years from balls being chucked up into double or triple coverage.
  2. Bad throw. The target is open, but the pass is off target. The problem here comes not in the choice to throw but in the throw itself.
  3. Miscommunication. The quarterback thinks the wide receiver is running one route, the wide receiver runs another route, and the defensive back is the beneficiary.
  4. Receiver error. The receiver is open, the pass is good, but the ball bounces off of the target’s hands and gets intercepted.

The first two are both the fault of the quarterback, though in very different ways. The third one makes it pretty much impossible for us to assign fault. The last one is the fault of the target.

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Across The Middle: Pace Still Has His Work Cut Out For Him

| January 17th, 2018

Matt Nagy could be the greatest offensive mind in the history of the league and even he couldn’t have succeeded with the Bears talent this season. A telling quote from Bob McGinn’s annual :All-NFC North team column, polling multiple scouts:

“Personnel people find it hard to believe what the Bears were employing with at WR after Cameron Meredith and, to a much lesser extent, Kevin White, suffered season-ending injuries early. ‘Just a bunch of names, really,’ one scout said.”

In the piece the Bears had four players  — Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Kyle Long and Jordan Howard —  take first-team spots offensively. They also had five starters finish last in their positions and two more were second-to-last.

The Bears have a lot more talent on defense, where seven players finished in the top two at their positions, which is impressive with the All-Pro laden Vikings unit in the division. The Bears’ talent resulted in a top-10 finish and that group still needs help in the pass rush department.

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Reacting to Matt Nagy’s Introductory Press Conference

| January 9th, 2018

The Chicago Bears formally introduced new head coach Matt Nagy today. Here are some thoughts on the press conference.

  • News: Nagy and Pace have not reached an agreement with a defensive coordinator or any other members of the staff. That will come in the next few days.
  • What occurred to me was the Bears now have a first-year head coach, second-year quarterback and 40 year-old GM responsible for putting it all together. I can’t remember another time where the three most crucial roles in this organization were operating as one. Were they ever? This is an exciting time to be a Bears fan. Sure, it might not work out. But it also might. And working out means competing for division titles every season.
  • “This is about more than the quarterback” was one of the first phrases out of Ryan Pace’s mouth and his only “football” comment made in the introductory remarks.
  • The Bears interviewed six candidates. One of them got four and a half hours and a dinner. The other five decidedly did not. Nagy was the target.


  • Nagy is a confident speaker. It is always interesting to see how these young coaches hold up in front of the media for the first time and Nagy seemed like a natural. This bodes well for a man who’ll have to address 53 giant lunatics every week.
  • Someone named “Larry Wisdom” got mentioned. I need to know more about him.

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Across The Middle: Call to McDaniels Had To Be Made

| January 3rd, 2018

I don’t know if Josh McDaniels has learned from his failures in Denver, but I’m glad Ryan Pace intends to find out. We can sit back and debate the qualifications of all the other candidates, but there’s no questioning what McDaniels has done. The 41-year-old offensive coordinator…

  • Has five Super Bowl rings.
  • Has coached nine offenses that have finished in the top 10 in scoring and seven that have taken top 10 spots in yardage.
  • Has won at least one game with six different quarterbacks, including an 11-5 campaign with Matt Cassell.
  • Has has been credited with developing young quarterbacks (who were later traded for draft picks) in Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.
  • In New England’s 2017 Super Bowl run, they averaged 34.6 points per game. They scored 28 points against the best defense in the league to win the 2015 Super Bowl.

You name it, he’s done it. He’s the one guy every team with an opening has to interview.

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