131 Comments

ATM: Nagy’s “Vision” Could Look to Supersize What Was Mizzell’s Role

| April 2nd, 2019

While maddening in 2018, Matt Nagy’s insistence on using Taquan Mizzell was a sign of what he envisions the Bears offense becoming.

Mizzell wasn’t used as often as it seemed in 2018. He played just 70 snaps, with nine rushes and ten targets in the passing game. That’s attempting to get him the ball every 3.7 snaps. That rate isn’t as high as Tarik Cohen’s (once every 2.6 snaps), but not all of Cohen’s touches were plays drawn up for him. The Bears seemed to see Mizzell as a weapon.

He wasn’t.

This is something Nagy should’ve known since he was comfortable cutting “Smoke” out of training camp last year before putting him on the practice squad and later back on the active roster. But just because Mizzell couldn’t do it, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a job out there for the right player. That job could prove to be vital to the offense.

On a basic level, Mizzell had value as a backup to Cohen. He’s quick and can do some good things in the receiving game. He just isn’t anywhere near as good at those things as Cohen. But, what if, in theory, the Bears were able to add a player who could do some of the same things at a very high level? There are quite a few options in this draft.

It seems highly unlikely that the Bears will be able to get their version of Kareem Hunt. Yes, running backs drop in the draft, but the success rate of running backs taken later still isn’t as great as fans tend to think. In this specific draft, there just aren’t that many dual-threat backs. Typically, at least five running backs are drafted before the 87th pick in the draft. This year that list likely includes Josh Jones, Damien Harris, David Montgomery, Darrell Henderson and Miles Sanders. Outside of those five, there aren’t very many who seem capable of filling the kind of every down role Hunt filled for the Chiefs.

While it’s difficult to find every down backs in this draft, there are a handful of players who could fill and expand Mizzell’s role. Players like Justice Hill, Tony Pollard and James Williams. Then there is the option of players like Trayveon Williams, Travis Homer, Karan Higdon and Mike Weber, who might not be big enough to handle an every down load, but could bring more explosiveness to the offense.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,

106 Comments

Understanding the Role of Newly-Acquired Free Agents in 2019: Offense

| March 20th, 2019

The Bears have made a number of moves in free agency, and I want to use some statistics to weigh in on their likely role on the roster / value to the team. Let’s start with a look at the offense.


Mike Davis

Davis has just 238 carries in 4 seasons so it was a little surprising to see the Bears move so quickly to sign him at the start of free agency. But a closer look reveals why they did so.

A few weeks ago I identified the typical physical profile of a running back in this offense, and Davis fits the bill, as you can see in the table below. Thresholds that he failed to hit are highlighted in red.

Davis matches the profile of backs who are usually targeted for this offense. He’s short but well built and has solid acceleration (as evidenced by the first 10 yards of the 40-yard dash) and explosion (as evidenced by the jumps). This doesn’t mean he’ll magically be a stud here after being a role player in San Francisco and Seattle, but it explains a little bit about why he was on the Bears’ radar.

Another way Davis fits is in terms of his skill set. Running backs in this offense are asked to do two things: run between the tackles and catch the ball out of the backfield. The table below shows how effective Davis was doing those compared to Jordan Howard in 2018, with both compared to Kareem Hunt as an ideal (on-field) back for this system. I highlighted cells in red when one running back stood out from the other two in a bad way, and green when one running back stood out in a good way.

A few thoughts:

  • The first thing that stands out is that Davis is better than Howard at running between the tackles, where both were asked to have a majority of their carries in 2018. This can be evidenced by his significantly higher yards/carry average between the tackles last year, when he was comparable to Kareem Hunt in that regard. It’s worth noting that this trend was only really true in 2018; Davis was generally inefficient at pretty much everything prior to that in his career, and Howard had -by far – the worst year of his career in 2018. Still, the Bears are banking on getting the 2018 form of Davis, which would be a running upgrade over 2018 Howard.
  • Sticking with running, let’s take a look at success rates in the bottom two rows. This was one area where I pointed out Howard actually did quite well, and Davis did as well (again in 2018, not so much before that). Since success rate is a measure of staying with or ahead of the chains, this indicates Davis should hopefully be able to continue Howard’s success converting in short-yardage situations.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

113 Comments

Bears vs. Bengals Practice Game: A Running Diary

| August 10th, 2018

What follows will be a stream of consciousness blog, written in real time as I watch the the Bears and Bengals practice against each, in pads, with referees and paying fans. There will be no editing after the fact and, honestly, very little done while I’m writing. 


6:48 PM (All times presented in Eastern Standard)

One thing matters tonight: health. Here’s hoping every Bears starter that jogs onto the field, jogs off the field. The Bears starters could look terrific or look like total shit. Who cares? The season is still a full month away. Mitch Trubisky just met this entire receiving corps, with the exception of Kevin White. One would hope their chemistry would be drastically improved in September.


6:55 PM

I drink. A lot. But I also take off chunks of time, famously the first two months of every year. I haven’t had a drink in a week and it’s very funny to watch how my sweet tooth develops as a result. (There is so much damn sugar in booze.) Today I saw M&M peanuts at the grocery store and it was like the most beautiful girl in the world offered me a handy in the candy aisle. (Good name for a song – “Handy in the Candy”) I couldn’t resist. As I write this, I’m eating them like popcorn.


7:00 PM

I never knew Cincinnati was referred to “The Queen City”. Maybe in the second half I’ll google why. I’ve never been to Cincinnati. I can’t for the life of me think of a reason I would go to Cincinnati, unless Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park wanted to produce something of mine.

And the Bengals’ play-by-play guy just referred to the Bears as “the 0-1 Chicago Bears”. Do broadcasters really do that? They use win/loss record in the preseason to label the opponent?


7:07 PM

KICKOFF! Taquan Mizzell is back to return. So I see the Bears are very concerned with tonight’s game.


7:09 PM

Trubisky throws a bullet into the hands of Kevin White and he drops it. On the play, Trubisky got “roughed”. That’s what you want, your starting QB and the future of the franchise taking cheap shots from the league’s dirtiest team. In a practice game.


7:13 PM

Trubisky just took off on third down and I literally screamed “NO!”


7:15 PM

People seem to think I want them to hate the preseason too. I literally don’t care what anybody does for enjoyment, as long as its within the boundaries of the law. I watch Golf Channel 10 hours a day. I don’t expect other people to do that. I have multiple Fiddler on the Roof cast recordings in my car. I don’t care if you share my opinions. But that ain’t gonna stop me from sharing them.


7:21 PM

John Timu. Apparently got slower.

I have golf on my actual TV and they run commercials constantly for a local casino called Empire City. Here’s what I don’t get: why? The ad is just people walking out of the casino building with a pile of cash. They don’t advertise what’s special about their place. They just advertise that you can walk in without a lot of money and walk out with way more. Why does this require advertising? Everybody knows what a casino is. Just flash the address.


7:27 PM

Taquan draw on first down. Exciting shit.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,