Well, the Bears season is mercifully over as the Hawks season is unfortunately just about to start. We cover both in this transitional phase of your beshitted Chicago sports calendar. Find it all the usual places.
Welcome back to another installment of On the Clock, where I scour mock drafts and pretend that I watched any college football last year (which I did not- fuck the NCAA).
Previously, I made the argument that the Bears need to stay at 43 and 50 and not trade back, instead looking to solidify two areas of need with rookie starters. We looked at the consensus top two interior linemen, and 4 potential second-tier receivers that could be game breakers. However, with two major holes in the defensive backfield, an instant starter (or two) in the secondary could pay bigger dividends than a lineman or wideout. One consensus between all the mocks I’ve seen is that the Bears most likely wait until the later rounds to find depth for both the linebacker corps and defensive line rotation, so we will spend this entire section looking at the secondary.
What the Bears need:
The Bears need a Safety and a Cornerback immediately. Deon Bush is a great depth piece, but he is not a starting safety (look back at last year’s opening week Packers game for an understanding of how easily Bush can look too hard in the backfield and get beat deep; also his inability to make plays on the ball in the red zone). Similarly, Kevin Tolliver, Artie Burns, and Tre Roberson are either career backups or unknowns. If Roberson plays in the NFL the way he did that made him the CFL’s premiere defensive free agent, that eliminates the need for a top pick on a CB, but as of now he’s still an unproven commodity. Since most mocks have the Bears looking Safety or Cornerback in the second round, let’s take a look at some of the prospects.
Xavier McKinney- Alabama
Xavier McKinney is a game-changer on defense and there’s no debate about it. In Chuck Pagano’s defense, he would have the ability to be a matchup nightmare. He lined up all over the field last year, as a sort of hybrid defender who can do it all. He’s got tremendous ball skills and watching his tape shows someone who is an instinctual blitzer. Pagano would be able to be super creative with a talent like this. He’s a playmaker, forcing turnovers at ease and always being around the ball. I’ve seen him mocked as early as pick 20, but if he falls it would be difficult to see the Bears pass on him.
Antoine Winfield Jr- Minnesota
How interested you are in the Bears taking Winfield sort of depends on what you want the safety opposite of Eddie Jackson to be: should he be an inside the box safety, someone who can play the deep middle to free up Jackson to read the QB, or a hybrid? Watching Winfield’s tape, it’s clear he plays a very similar game to Eddie Jackson. He is an absolute ballhawk and when he gets the chance, he’s a threat to take a fumble recovery or interception to the house every time. He picked off seven (!) passes last year. He has a long injury history, so there is risk to the pick, but if healthy, he and Eddie Jackson as a 1-2 Safety combo would be an absolute nightmare.
Jeremy Chinn- Southern Illinois
Aching for a return to the Bears defense of 2018? Jeremy Chinn’s pro comp is Adrian Amos, so if that holds true you should be rooting for the Bears to pick Chinn in the second round. Chinn has been talked about as everything from the first Safety off the board to someone that can be available for teams with a pick in the 60s, so if the Bears trade one of their first two picks to fall back in the second round, Chinn could be available as a value pick. I’ve also heard him talked about like a lighter version of Isaiah Simmons and could be asked to bulk up and play the roaming defender role in some defenses, which presents some interesting pairings with who the Bears already have. Let’s hope if the Bears take Chinn he can beat up on NFL teams like he did your Youngstown States (Youngstowns State?).*
Trevon Diggs- Alabama
Diggs is another Alabama DB that the Bears could be looking at to fill their other outside CB spot. He’s a bit more of a raw athlete than a polished defensive back at this point in his career, but the mocks that link him to the Bears indicate a belief that the talent around him can help him build those skills and make him a top-tier corner. He won’t play the run as well as it was played last year, but he has the ability to close off one side of the field. In short, Diggs is a stud that got ethered on prime time television last year by LSU, so there’s naturally going to be some question about how well he can hold up against top competition.
Bryce Hall- Virginia
Hall, like Diggs, is a big, physical CB (both are over 6’ and 200lbs) with injury histories. Neither of them are the ideal run stopping CBs, but the Bears secondary doesn’t necessarily rely on outside defenders to stop the run (save for Kyle Fuller’s game winning tackle against the Lions last year). Hall is effective close to the line on bubble screens, corner blitzes, and quick slants. He limited opposing QBs to passer ratings around 50 the last two seasons and led the nation in pass breakups two years ago. Hall is more of a zone CB, so it would be interesting to see if that scheme fit would work in Chicago. I’ve also seen him mocked to Denver in multiple places, where he would also make a lot of sense.
Kyle Dugger- Lenoir-Rhyne
The Ringer really must have Ryan Pace figured out, tabbing Dugger to be the Bears pick at 50. It all makes sense, a D-2 player that was absolutely dominant? That’s absolutely on-brand for Pace and Dugger’s tape is pretty ruthless. Not only is he an outstanding returner with tremendous ball skills, he honestly looked like a grown ass man playing against little kids, because he was. I mean it’s D-2 so like you’ve got this dude that runs a 4.49 and put up 17 reps of 225 at the combine, and he’s going against the pud from your high school who went to Middle Tennessee Grand Canyon Valley Technical Institute A&M and Dugger is hitting dudes so hard they quit on the spot and go back to their hometowns to sell life insurance with their dads. Of all the prospects he’s the oldest (24) and with the level of his college competition he’s probably the biggest question mark, but I am seeing Dugger mocked to a lot of teams in the second round, so he’s doing something right. He could be another Bears player to come from D-2, or the Bears could instead choose to invest in a more proven commodity.
With all the garbage presented to us fans as “The 2019 Chicago Bears Offense”, it might be tempting to focus on that side of the ball with the first two picks in the second round. However, the holes in the defensive backfield are huge and glaring and if the Bears go out and take a defender with one of these first two picks, I think the potential for the Bears D to return to form in 2020 is much higher, ESPECIALLY if Tre Roberson is as good as advertised. Just imagine a Bears secondary of Roberson, Fuller, Skrine, Jackson and Antoine Winfield Jr., and you can hear the crowd after the Bears hold Green Bay to their 9th straight 3 and out chanting “Holy Shit” like Braun Strowman just sidewalk slammed some cruiserweight into the shadow realm.
*While looking for a good cover photo for this article I stumbled upon the one of Jeremy Chinn that I ended up using because the size of that man’s arms literally turned me into Vince McMahon: WOULD YOU JUST LOOK AT HIM? THAT’S SUCH GOOD SHIT!
Tomorrow will be Part 4 of On The Clock: The Leftovers!
The Bears dropped from the 1st overall defense in DVOA in 2018 down to 8th in 2019, the first year under Chuck Pagano’s watch. Why is that? Was it the offense constantly trying to get off the field as quickly as possible? Was it the key injuries to certain starters, or the loss of half the secondary in free agency? Was it due to the Bears playing Football Outsiders’ #1 toughest schedule of 2019, or simply just statistical variance?
I don’t know, if I did I’d be coaching the Bears defense (spoiler alert: I run a lot of 0 coverage so I’m sorry in advance). However, I did smoke a bunch of LEGAL weed and read PFF and Football Outsiders to get to the bottom of this hypothetical question.
Roquan Smith is gonna be the fuckin dude in the middle, y’all. The Bears numbers against the run aren’t very impressive on paper, but metrics put the Bears as the 3rd and 6th overall defense from the Second-Level and Open Field metrics (runs beyond the defensive line). Pagano is letting his second level swarm to the ball, and the groundwork is there for the Bears to once again have the best LB corps in the league, provided they resign Danny Trevathan.
The defense looked good against the teams they should have. I know, that seems like a backhanded compliment, right? It’s not. 2018’s loss to the Giants (even with Chase Daniel at QB) was caused by a defense that could not stop Saquon Barkley and an awful Giants offense. This year’s Bears defense put shitty teams down and held them there, but of course the offense still managed to blow it against both LA teams, Oakland (debatable), and the first Packers game. As Bears fans, we gotta take pride in beating the teams they should beat because this franchise plays down to their opponents so much you’d think it was commonplace.
This is where I officially state my case for Leonard Floyd: he is absolutely a starting-caliber outside linebacker. His numbers as a pass rusher are not great, but Pagano utilized him in the best possible way: setting the edge in the run game. He was most certainly not worth the price the Bears paid for him in the draft, but if he walks the Bears will most likely downgrade with his replacement.
If we can expect variance to be part of the year to year process, we see it in turnovers. The Bears simply did not take the ball away like they did last year. The Bears averaged 1.2 takeaways per game in 2019, compared to 2.2 per game in 2018. The other defenses with a 1.2 takeaway per game average in 2019? Jacksonville, Atlanta, Cleveland, Philadelphia. The Eagles were the only team that made the playoffs that finished outside the top 13 in that stat. If the Bears defense wants to come back to elite status, here is where the change needs to come.
Pagano was touted as a man-blitz schemer, but these Bears only blitzed on 23.5% of snaps, the 8th lowest percentage in the league. Going back to the Leonard Floyd bit, Pagano needs to scheme this guy free with blitzes or some other wizardry, because he still has elite closing speed (though sometimes struggles to finish). The Bears have elite blitzers in the back 7 at all levels, and Pagano needs to bring that heat from weird places more often.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bears ranked 22nd in the league in pass rush efficiency, and I’d say that’s about right. The loss of Hicks and the preponderance of man-coverage fronts instead of the Fangio Man/Zone hybrids created less pressure from the Bears 4 man rush. As a result, this defense didn’t play up to the lofty expectations we all had.
Pagano let the DBs play their preferred style all year long, which is maybe a good thing or a bad thing. I’m not sure so I’m putting it here.
Here are the names of the starting players on the defense with expiring contracts:
McManis (special teams counts and you know it)
You gotta assume at least two of these players leave, right? There’s no way the team splits their core special teams up entirely by getting rid of Kwit and McManis, so one of them stays. I think the Bears re-sign Danny and McManis, and they will look to get another one year prove it deal with a former first round safety. My money is on Karl Joseph.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll be considering edge rushers as linebackers.
Kevin Pierre-Louis (90.5) 27 tackles, 0 sacks
Khalil Mack (86.2) 34 tackles, 9 sacks, 4 forced fumbles
Nick Kwiatkoski (72.6) 51 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
Leonard Floyd (69.8) nice 32 tackles, 3 sacks
Danny Trevathan (61.9) 54 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Isaiah Irving (61.1) 8 tackles
James Vaughters (60.0) 3 tackles
Roquan Smith (52.4) 76 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception
Joel Iyiegbuniwe (42.1) 2 tackles
Aaron Lynch (36.0) 2 tackles, 2 sacks
First, let’s parse out the data. Irving and Iyiegbuniwe aren’t on the team next year, Vaughters might be. Aaron Lynch needs to go, though. I can shrug off Irving and Iggy’s small sample size, but Lynch played in every game this year. He logged 244 snaps, about 15 a game, and he sucked. I thought he was only brought here to be part of Vic Fangio’s defense as an old friend from San Francisco, but they kept him around for another season and it was a season too long. As low as I am on Irving, I’d rather see him get some run, or see if James Vaughters can play with the starters for a spell. Lynch has to be gone next year, right? Right?
Roquan Smith started off slow, got hot in the middle of the season, and cooled off before his injury against Dallas in week 14. Opponents caught 75% of the passes he was credited as the primary defender on, which is about right given the amount of swings and dumpoffs he was required to stop. His tackling is still his best quality, and he maintained the same level of dominance there in 2019 as his stellar rookie campaign. His only two sacks both came against Detroit in week 13 against first-time starter David Blough, so take that with a grain of salt too. Chuck Pagano needs to make sure to scheme better for Roquan to move in space. If Danny Trevathan doesn’t come back next year, the pressure will be on Smith to do all the things he does so well while also being the main focus of all the second level blocking on inside runs. For what it’s worth, Smith was rated highly for his block-shedding coming out of college, so at least there’s hope.
If the Bears think they could do okay with replacing Trevathan with Nick Kwiatkoski, it would be Kwit’s excellent last few games that made his resume too much to pass up. He hadn’t played as many snaps as he did in 2019 since his rookie season, and the team and fans saw a kid who has developed from playing behind outstanding veterans and learned how to be a Swiss Army knife. He is a stud on special teams, but if the Bears end up letting Trevathan go and sign the cheaper Kwiatkoski, they might have to find a new replacement inside linebacker that can go make the plays he does on kick coverage. One of these two dudes leaves and is starting in a new uniform Week 1 of next year, it’s just a question of who. I personally think the Bears pay AR12 and let Danny walk, which hurts my heart but it is what it is.
I’m a sucker for Leonard Floyd but I kinda waxed too poetic about him in my team defense review, so I’m gonna skip it now. Just know, I say nice things about his ability to set the edge and I think the Bears should seriously consider re-signing him depending on how this year goes.
Khalil Mack is a hard player to write about because he really reminds me how amateur I am in all ways, even in talking about how awesome he is to watch. So many real journalists have poured over Mack that it almost feels pointless to say anything. His numbers could never truly represent exactly how much shit he ruins and how much his being on the field alters the very concept of the way the game is played. You know whenever any referee apologist says something like “well, there’s holding on every play” they’re right, but it’s kinda hard to focus on long enough to prove? Yeah, Khalil Mack gets chipped, double-teamed, and held on literally every single play. It’s like watching a created player in Madden that you just said “fuck it” on and made everything a 99 overall, but instead of shredding CPU lineman while quarterbacks takes seven-step drops, the AI actually gameplanned to stop Mack and half the time it still didn’t matter. The game would stop every play if they called holding on Khalil Mack the way they do for most other players, which is truly a blessing and a curse.
Basically, this linebacker corps has studs in all spots and maybe two quality backups. This offseason is gonna be a tough one, but hopefully the Bears linebackers go into 2020 being their strongest unit once again. That’s a special feeling that makes all Chicagoans do three things: look for that old Bears starter coat in their closet, pretend for one fleeting moment that Mike Ditka wasn’t a hardcore right wing drunken buffoon, and just vibe, baby.
Once again, we collect our Bears wing to put the final touches on the win over Dallas and look ahead to the Packers.
Ok…well there’s gotta be stuff to be optimistic about now after Thursday night, right?
Brian Schmitz: Here for all the positivity, it will be a great offseason storyline for a team that misses the playoffs. It’s such a Bears situation: they were bad, but just not bad enough for anything of substance to change. This little run is assuredly a cock tease that will end with a jerkoff and a sausage pizza.
Wes French: Brian, call me what you want but a cock tease that ends in a jerkoff and a sausage pizza doesn’t really sound all that bad.
Considering the way the game started – 17 play, 9 min DAL TD drive, Mitch INT on the goal line – I was all set to MF everyone and write this thing off. But then Mitch caught fire with his legs, the new TE contingent proved far more competent than their over priced/drafted predecessors and the offense seemed to open up in a big way. Even Pagano go the early adjustments right after that opening TD drive and the game felt well in hand shortly after the start of the second half.
So while I’m relishing #clubDUB right now, I’m not going to punch any postseason tickets or act like they’ve solved their problems. it still took Matt Nagy 3/4 of a season to let his QB do what he does best, which is probably costing this team a real shot at some January success. I am starting to think that more of the issues lay with Nagy himself and his thinking he’s the smartest guy on the field at all times.
What do you guys think this season could’ve looked like if they’d taken a more Baltimore approach with the QB, letting him run around and working on those awareness/decision making deficiencies in real time instead of telling everyone shit was going AMAZING all summer, forcing complex plays on an over-matched young QB and then making a bunch of excuses and just saying “not good enough” for three months?
Brian: The Baltimore approach is the new NFL. It’s akin to the GS Warriors of 2015. They revolutionized the way the game is played. Every fan should want to see the Bears trend this way, because A. It fits their current offensive talent. B. It works. And C. It’s really fucking fun to watch.
It’s going to be the question over these three games, no matter how they go, but should any final decisions on Mitch be made purely on how he finishes this season? He could play himself off the team in these last three, but the more likely scenario is he plays just well enough for the Bears to roll with him next year without picking up that fifth year option, right?
Wes: Final decisions? No. As we discussed earlier, I think Nagy/et al did Mitch a disservice this season with the way they started and the game plans/play calling that accompanied it. He’s done better of late by doing more of what he’s comfortable with, not what Nagy wants to do. I think biggest decision to be made is on Nagy – stick with what works and change/implement some of what he’d like to do as his QB starts to show he can do those things or spend the off-season trying to force his scheme through with a guy that clearly didn’t take to it last summer and hope for better results. For fans and everyone involved I really hope it’s the former.
I honestly have no idea what they’re going to do regarding the fifth year option. He can definitely play his way to it or out of it, but I believe it’s more about if Pace/Nagy will be here to see it. If they don’t pick the option up I think it says more about those two and whether or not they’ll be here beyond 2020 as well.
Tony Martin: I think that while the biggest decision may be figuring out what Mitch’s contract looks like, if the offensive line isn’t patched up significantly this team will spend all of 2020 doing what they did in 2019- stumbling around trying to figure out if the QB they moved up to take is actually any good. The skill position players are great, the defense should continue to play at a level that is good enough to win games consistently, but the offensive line needs extensive work. Without it I fear this team will be treading water in 2020 no matter how this year ends.
Brian: As this season progresses, it has become more clear to me that Nagy deserves much more of the blame than Mitch. Nagy selfishly wants to win his way, that is why he gets uber-defensive when asked about ceding the play calling duties to anyone other than Matt Nagy. He wants Mitch to be a robot that follows Nagy’s offensive plan and doesn’t ad-lib in any sense. Mitch, on the other hand, wants to be at his best, which is when he is creating with his feet, getting outside of the tackle box, and sometimes just drawing shit up in the sand. A good comp for this situation is the Ravens; John Harbaugh is confident enough in himself as a coach that he doesn’t try to contain the off the cuff playmaking abilities of his QB. I don’t think anyone is playing for their job at this point and I don’t think the next 3 games will change who the QB, Coach, or GM of this team is next season.
Tony: I think you’re speaking to the real issue here: the power struggle when it comes to how to most effectively run the Bears offense. I think consensus is starting to build among Bears faithful that Nagy cost the team at least two or three games with his insistence on running the offense his way, which is on one hand why he was hired but on the other hand explains a lot of the issues the team faced through a majority of the season thus far. If this version of the offense was showing up when the defense was healthy, this team would be holding a Wildcard spot today.
Ok, we’ve got all winter and spring to worry about the future, but with everyone talking about firing everyone…would you give Matt Nagy another year with a revamped offensive line?
Brian Schmitz: Would I give another year to figure himself out? No. I think he’s overmatched and as I’ve been saying – he’s been found out and hasn’t been able to counterpunch.
Will the Bears give him another year? 100%. He is Pace’s hire and the firing him would be an admittance of guilt. Similar to Shaheen still being a uniformed NFL player and Mitch starting games.
Wes French: I’m not sure I’m giving anyone another year right now, but before we even get to Nagy/Oline…where the hell is Ryan Pace? Nagy has been front and center through this whole thing, which might be more detriment at this point, but his GM hiding out this whole time is really starting to give me even worse feelings about all this.
Nagy is looking a lot like his QB right now, continuing to do the same things over and over and not learning anything. 3rd and short was a disaster, again. They become the 2nd team to score only seven points while running at least 74 plays, and they have now gone 9 of 10 games under 300 yards of total offense. Nothing changes, but he expects different results.
Pagano has been here for 10 games and you can see tangible changes IN REAL TIME. Is his defense perfect? No. They still gave up another 4th quarter TD, but they also allowed just 37 rushing yards in the 2nd half after getting gashed for 73 in the first half.
Can any of you think of a time where Nagy made an adjustment that sustained any kind of success, week to week let alone in game?
Tony Martin: Y’all, this is the definition of “forgotten season” in the best case scenario for Pace, Nagy, and Mitch. Is it reactionary to just let Matt Nagy go at the end of the year? Something has gotta change, this window is open for what, two more years tops?
I was listening to something on the radio the other day about Lamar Jackson- the Ravens offense is specifically designed to maximize his talents and minimize his shortcomings, and in turn he has had time to develop aspects of his game while immediately being put in the best position to win as he is. They draft and sign players to compliment his skillset, and they scheme to his benefit specifically.
Can Matt Nagy gameplan like this? So far nothing I’ve seen would lead me to believe so, but I’d like to see if the plan is to either find a QB to fit in the system, or spend the offseason building their roster to Mitch’s strengths.
It seems like every young player, on both sides of the ball, have just flattened out this year (with the possible exception of Allen Robinson, and that might just be health). Is that on Nagy or is that just who these guys are, which would put it on Pace?
Tony: Could it be a combination of both? All these Bears players have limitations that were mitigated by gameplanning- putting them in a position to win. This year, it’s no surprise Tarik Cohen looks like shit when he’s running up the middle from the shotgun because the box is loaded.
Wes: I don’t think the players are the problem. Virtually the same group were the darlings of last season, and this year I think it’s a lack of confidence in the coach and the QB as the season has worn on. The defense might be a little of Pagano learning (slowly) how to best get the right players in the right roles in terms of pressure/coverage in the front 7.
On offense I put it squarely on Nagy being insane on account of trying the same shit week in and week out and expecting different results. Tony makes a great point about Baltimore/Jackson and designing a system that the QB can grow within while setting him up for the best possible results in the short term. The rub, though, might be that Trubisky is just THAT BAD and we’ve seen that he can’t even hit the easiest of plays or make the simplest of reads. I think it might be too far gone to be salvageable, considering this season is shot with the injuries to Trubs.
Expecting to be able to strip it down even further and hope for better next year would be foolish without at least bringing in some kind of veteran competition. Sure, you can point to the Oline a bit and that needs sorting, but the Oline isn’t constantly throwing to back shoulders regardless of that being the best spot.
Brian: It’s probably somewhere in the middle of each. Nagy isn’t putting a lot of guys in position to succeed, but at the same time, he has been given some bums that he’s trying to make real NFL players.
Cohen, for instance, is a guy who we know can play. However, he needs to put in creative positions in order to succeed; and we have seen far less of this this season.
Anthony Miller, on the other hand, may just be a guy who is all hype and is becoming a malcontent. This blame can be placed on Pace for falling in love with a guy and then talking about how much they love him.
You are what you eat, they say. If the old adage rings true for NFL coaches, you are what your team is. In that case, Matt Nagy is a colossal letdown. I’m sure he’s a great guy, but his team has forgotten where Club Dub is and Matt is the Lyft driver whose phone just died. He’s spent the last few weeks pretty much just defending Mitch, so it feels like the other areas of the team is suffering due to neglect. The Eagles game was atrocious. The Bears were penalized nine times for 70 yards which doesn’t sound too bad but a handful of those penalties were pre-snap. Nagy, as is Bears coach tradition, has also forgotten how to properly utilize his timeouts, his challenge record is spotty at best, and his clock management has been terrible this year.
Multiple games have seen Nagy attempt a hurry up offense at the end of the half with minimal timeouts remaining and the resulting quick three-and-out and punt has put opposing teams in a spot where they can try to get points instead. During the Packers game when the Bears went for it on fourth down early in the 4th while in field goal range, with a defense that was playing excellently, it dawned on me: Matt Nagy is a 17-year-old playing Madden. Sure, he’s old enough to know better than to do it, but when his system isn’t working he tries to make it work instead of playing to the situation. Running a four-vertical play against a defense that had been getting to the QB with just a three- or four-man rush is totally something your idiot teenager cousin would do right before he takes a sack and turns off the Playstation.
It’s hard to know exactly what level of control Nagy has over the defensive play-calling, but that’s also been suspect. The Bears have stopped blitzing frequently, relying on the front-4 to bring pressure. Offenses have this team figured out, and the defense hasn’t adjusted from a philosophical standpoint. Matt Stafford can pick this team apart if given time, but he can also make mistakes if he is pressured. Let’s hope the Nagy/Pagano brain-trust picks that one up and doesn’t rely on Aaron Lynch to beat a left tackle in under five seconds.
The edge in this match-up has to go to Matt Patricia, right? The Lions are by no means a playoff team, but they’re a competent football team with less talent than they need to be serious contenders. The Lions don’t look great, but Matt Nagy is also not putting his team in a position to be successful. Too many of the routes being run were five-man curls or short routes that ended with a Mitch sack because an effectively run short zone defense wipes out 95% of the Bears offensive plays. When the Bears were moving the ball, it was because they were down by multiple scores and because it seemed like the first time in weeks that Nagy played to the team and Mitch’s strengths.
Even so, this offense has become so predictable that it’s hard to see how they can be successful at anything. If Matt Patricia wants to win this game by out-coaching Matt Nagy, all he needs to do is watch the tape, where the Bears offense has successfully telegraphed themselves into obsolescence.
Tell me more about the previously indicted for sexual assault head coach of the Lions, won’t you Wes?
Matt Nagy is pretty damn STINKY this year, which you’ve laid out nicely. But I’m not sure that Matt Patricia takes the edge based solely on how crappy Nagy has been in year two.
And farther down we go…is there anything to be gleaned by the brief spasm of competence in the second half? Or should all focus be on the Wannstedt Era like first half?
Brian Schmitz (@_BrianSchmitz): I really liked seeing Mitch move around, that seemed to make a difference and resembled 2018 Mitch, which was my favorite Mitch. I have no idea why, but I’m not convinced this team is done. I don’t like this team or organization so it’s not that I am being bias, I just think there is too much talent on defense for this team to roll over and die.
Wes French (@WFrenchman): The first half was worse than any Dowell Loggins era half in recorded history. Mitch had an expected completion percentage around 68%, but was actually only accurate on 47% of his throws. The defense has given up an average of 2.4 10+ play drives/gm after only giving them up at a 1.6/gm clip last year.
Holy shit do I want to hate Carson Wentz, who I would like to first off assure you is NOT Prince Harry. I typed out and deleted a whole paragraph on how his Christian charity and religious work makes me uncomfortable, so let’s just ignore his personality as best we can and break down the Marcus Mariota to Jared Goff’s Jameis Winston (holy shit what a jumble of mediocre quarterback names).
Carson Wentz was the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and has had a somewhat star-crossed career in his time as the Eagles QB, similarly to how a certain member of the royal family is on one hand a darling of the British media while also having a history of wearing Nazi regalia. He came in as a rookie and put up middling numbers, played at a Pro Bowl level in 2017 before suffering a season-ending injury in week 14 before watching “Giant Penis” Nick Foles take his team to the mountaintop and win the Super Bowl against New England. Wentz came back partway through the 2018 season and again played well statistically. He’s doing the same this year, but just like last season his team isn’t holding up their end of the bargain.
Let’s take a quick look at his Next Gen Stats from NFL.com from last week:
A lot of short passes or passes behind the line, which makes a lot of sense against a stout Buffalo defense during a game that featured steady high winds. Wentz makes good use of screen passes, which the Bears are actually decent at defending, but he also makes good use of the deep ball when he needs to, which the Bears are shit at stopping. It’s worth keeping track throughout the week to see if speedsters DeSean Jackson and rookie burner Miles Sanders are suiting up on Sunday.
Wentz is an outstanding game manager when he isn’t being asked to do too much. He’s like the Duke of Sussex, he needs just a little less responsibility than one would ask of a proper King. He also excels in making plays with his feet, as he has underrated mobility and can buy time for players like Alshon Jeffery to break off routes and find open spots downfield. He’s getting sacked at the second lowest rate of his career according to Pro Football Focus (a sack on every 5.7 dropbacks), so you know he’s a threat there as well.
How do you beat Carson Wentz? That’s a good question. Even with injuries, Wentz has plenty of weapons in the aforementioned Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert, not to mention Jordan Howard anchoring the rushing attack and a decent offensive line. Wentz is impressive against the blitz, and if given too much time will make things happen with his feet.
He spreads the ball around very well considering the injuries he has dealt with this season with his skill position teammates. As mentioned before, he has two tight ends that can run any route asked of them, a wide receiver that can win at the point of the catch, and if Sanders is healthy he has 3 running backs that can catch passes (I am including Jordan Howard, thank you very much). This is not an offense that you can key on one player and isolate, the Eagles can beat you in a number of ways through the air.
If the Bears want to successfully beat Carson Wentz, they need to pressure him into throwing his occasional bad pass. He will literally pull a Mitch if given the chance and just leave you with a head-scratcher. Wentz tends to have a ball or two sail on him, and the Bears need to capitalize. If somehow Chicago jumps on an early lead, Wentz can get erratic. If the game goes how we all expect it to go, Wentz will put up outstanding numbers.
The Eagles can beat a team in a number of different ways, and this is a far different team than the one the Bears faced this previous January. Holding them to 16 points would be a big surprise and could make this game winnable, but Wentz has too many weapons and the Bears offense isn’t inspiring anyone to make us think opposing QBs will be feeling any situational pressure when on the field. If Carson takes the field and is pressing to make a play, the Bears will be able to take advantage, but ask yourself first if you can actually see that being the case when you envision the game on Sunday.
Good luck on Sunday Bears fans, because I’m setting the line at 2.5 for “mentions by the announce team of the ‘double-doink’ and Eddy Pineiro’s miss last week”.
Take the over for the announcers
Eagles 24 Bears 10
Carson Wentz is NOT actually Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, Earl of Dumbarton
…or IS HE?
Our boys gather round again to try and pick through the rubble:
Not sure if it’s better to ask where they go from here or how we got here, so why don’t you guys just go ahead and rant…
Brian Schmitz: I’ve said it since camp, Eddie Pineiro cannot be trusted. His mechanics are not tight enough for him to be consistent. Too many moving parts; which will break down when the timing isn’t perfect. If he makes that kick, the season takes on an entirely different feel. Yes, Pace sucks at his job, Nagy is overmatched, and Mitch isn’t very good right now, but if that kick goes in, the noise from the outside (which does effect the inside) is substantially muted for at lease the next six days.
Tony Martin: David Montgomery is the real fucking deal y’all, and if I’m being honest I loved the offensive gameplan. Not a big fan of Nagy turning full red-ass Jon Gruden in the post-game conference, however. What happened to this defense that thrived on creating pressure? Pagano isn’t bringing extra heat like I thought he would, especially given the struggles of the front-four to get consistent pressure.