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ATM: Bears Building Roster To Suit Trubisky’s Strengths

| May 14th, 2019

Too often building around a quarterback and building around a quarterback’s strengths are confused. When the Bears first acquired Jay Cutler, they thought deep threats were the best way to build around the strong-armed passer, without realizing throwing deep passes wasn’t necessarily his strength. The same is true for Mitch Trubisky who was one of the worst deep passers in the league last year, but one of the best on shorter completions.

The drafting of Riley Ridley was an example of the Bears trying to play to the strengths of their quarterback.

Ridley doesn’t have the speed to consistently blow by defenders, but he is considered an excellent route runner, which should help him get open on underneath passes. He also has a big frame to win the so-called 50/50 balls. Ridley adds to bigger targets that include Allen Robinson and Javon Wims as the Bears look to eat up the middle of the field while still being able to beat defenses over the top, on occasion.



Of quarterbacks with 50 or more attempts, Trubisky is ranked 27th with a passer rating of 61.9 on passes traveling 15 or more yards down the field, according to Pro-Football-Reference. He ranked slightly better than Blake Bortles and worse than quarterbacks like Josh Rosen, Case Keenum, Sam Darnold and Alex Smith.

But Trubisky was elite on short passes.

He had a passer rating of 107 on passes that traveled less than 15 yards in the air – fifth among quarterbacks with 50 or more attempts, behind only Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz and Patrick Mahomes.

Despite clearly being better on short passes, 22 percent of Trubisky’s attempts were 15 or more yards down the field. For comparison sake, the very best quarterback at throwing deep — Russell Wilson (131.8 rating) — had just about 21.5 percent of his passes travel that far. The second best — Drew Brees (125.5) — had just 17 percent of his passes go that far down the field. Heck, even the cannon-armed Patrick Mahomes came in with just 21.4 percent of his passes going 15 or more yards down the field.

So, what gives?

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ATM: Top Picks Made With Super Bowl In Mind

| May 1st, 2019

In years past, Ryan Pace drafted relatively raw players like Jonathan Bullard, Adam Shaheen, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, James Daniels and, of course, Mitch Trubisky early. He seemed to prefer potential over immediate production. The 2019 Draft was a stark contrast. With their first two picks — and only two in the first five rounds — the Bears drafted RB David Montgomery and WR Riley Ridley, players who should be ready to make an impact right away. This is a team ready to compete for a Super Bowl and in order to achieve that goal they’ll need everybody on the roster ready to play.

Neither Montgomery nor Ridley were necessarily explosive game breakers in college and surely won’t be in the NFL — both struggled to break 4.6 in the 40-yard dash — but they’re polished players. They both seem to have a natural feel for the game that should help them make an impact right away.

There is no question that third-round pick Montgomery has the body and all-around skill set to play in the NFL. While he may lack the explosiveness of the league’s elite backs, at 5’10”, 220 pounds, the Iowa State product is built for the NFL punishment. And he showed polish as a receiver in college, with solid route-running and soft hands.



A year ago the Atlanta Falcons draft Calvin Ridley to replace Taylor Gabriel, a free agent signing with your Chicago Bears. Now, somewhat ironically, the Bears may have drafted Calvin’s brother to do the same. Ridley likely won’t replace Gabriel as a rookie, but he shouldn’t have a problem winning the fourth receiver job and could move into a starting role sooner than later. (Anthony Miller should replace Gabriel in the Zebra role by 2020.)

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Reflections on the 2019 Draft Weekend

| April 29th, 2019

The draft is over, and a lot happened that could impact this roster both in 2019 and beyond. Let’s take a look at the major moves made and put them into perspective.


David Montgomery & the Running Back Position

Easily the biggest Bears move of the weekend. Not only was he the team’s first pick, but Ryan Pace showed just how much he valued Montgomery by trading up to get him.

As I mentioned last week, RB was clearly the biggest need on the roster going into the draft, and it was one of the few spots where a rookie could make an immediate impact. Accordingly, we should expect to see a lot of Montgomery on the field from pretty much day one.

In terms of fit, Montgomery is a textbook Andy Reid running back. He’s compact and well built, and has good agility, which is why he hit 3 of the 5 physical thresholds I’ve identified before (and came pretty close in the other two). In the run-up to the draft, there were many people who compared Montgomery to Kareem Hunt, who thrived in 2 years as the lead running back in a similar offense in Kansas City. Lou Ayeni, a running backs coach who worked with both Montgomery and Hunt in college, says that the comparison is valid, but Montgomery is even better as a route runner and pass catcher. That should have Bears fans extremely excited about Montgomery’s future in Chicago.

In terms of production, Montgomery was one of the most elusive running backs in college football. He led the nation in forced missed tackles last year, and had one of the highest rates of explosive runs of any back in the draft. These are all aspects that were missing from Chicago’s run game last year. Montgomery lacks top end speed, but is otherwise a complete package who is ideal for this offense, and thus I expect he’ll thrive here.

If you want to see more of an Xs and Os breakdown of what Montgomery can do, here’s Jacob Infante, one of the best draft guys in the Bears Blogosphere:

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