Football

He did it again. “DJ Yung Milwaukee” lent his talents for another tandem matchups post from your resident Bears heads at FFUD.

“Big shouts out to my boy Wes for letting me drop another guest verse on a Bears positional preview; if our tandem breakdown of the Bears/Broncos was the FFUD version of Mariah Carey’s iconic “Fantasy” remix with ODB, let’s try to make this her even more legendary collab with Jay-Z on “Heartbreaker”.”

Enjoy. 

Tony on the Bears Defense vs the Racial Slur’s Offense

How ugly could Monday get? Writing about Washington’s offense is difficult. Case Keenum makes Joe Flacco look like Joe Theismann, and though I don’t want Case Keenum’s leg to explode it’s not hard to see Khalil Mack going full L-T on an offensive line missing its star LT. Statistics show that from 2010-2019 the average amount of games it takes for a first round quarterback to make his first start is 4.5, and if this game is a bloodbath (which it has the potential to be), it wouldn’t be too far of a reach to suggest there’s a chance Dwayne Haskins makes an appearance in garbage time.

Speaking of garbage time, this Washington team has gotten a lot of their offensive numbers in situations where they are down multiple scores late in games this season. So, the question is: which Washington offense shows up? Is it the offense we saw in the first half against Philly, or the offense that has played their other six awful quarters of football this season? The answer will be found through the air; “Scary” Terry McLaurin looks like a steal in the 3rd round of this years’ draft. He has speed to go over the top, finds the holes in the zone well, and with Chuck Pagano’s designed man-blitzes, look for Keenum to test the Bears with the deep ball.

Outside of Scary Terry, the skill position players on this team are a real haunted house of mediocrity. Paul Richardson isn’t a threat, Vernon Davis will put up a solid  three-catch, 24-yard performance, and the sun has set on All Day. Chris Thompson is an issue coming out of the backfield, so look for the Bears to drop down a safety or ask Buster Skrine to cover the backfield receiving specialist.

Washington’s run offense permits a pathetic average of 0.31 yards before first contact on running plays, so the Bears up front will feed. The right side of their offensive line looks so bad that any two fans sitting in FedEx field that Dan Snyder hasn’t personally banned might be able to do a better job, given they’ve had a couple $8 beers and are wearing hogs’ noses. The Bears defense is gonna steamroll these nerds.

Wes on Mitch Trubisky vs the Racial Slur’s Defense

Lets look at some numbers for this week’s exercise:

Mitchell Trubisky: 68.1, 39.1, 36.6, 15.1, 33.1 and 3.05

Racial Slurs Defense: 455, 78.3, 6, 168, 68, 34:54

Beep boop beep beep, numbers! Okay, so you’re not a computer and these all just look like squiggly lines and decimals. But here’s the story they tell…..

Trubs is bottom-10 in the league QB rankings with an overall accuracy-percentage of 68.1. This number drops to 39.1, still bottom 10, on passes that travel beyond the first down marker. Moves these numbers to 3rd down plays only, and you get a disastrous 61.1 accuracy %, which has translated to a comically bad 33.1 QB rating and 3.05 yards per attempt. That ain’t it.

Enter the Washington defense, just what the doctor ordered (or so Matt Nagy hopes). Washington is allowing an average of 455 yards/week early in the season and opposing QBs are a league-leading 78.3 in completion %. They’ve also allowed six passing scores thus far, good for 31st in the league. All of this shapes up to help improve the Bears sputtering offense, but how?

Trubs does lead the league in, wait for it…….targets to his RBs. By a lot. 36.6% of his targets have gone to RBs this season, a full 4% more than any other QB. Compare that with a sub-50% target share for his WR, good for second to last to only Baltimore (who lean HEAVILY tight end). Monday night presents the best opportunity to level this disparity out. Dak Prescott laid out the blueprint in Week 2: 25 of his 30 passes travels 15 yards or fewer through the air, continually abusing the poor coverage and soft zones to stack completions.

The Washington defense is also 31st in rushing yards allowed per game at 168. Herein lies another way to get Mitch and the offense going, through establishing the run and then exploiting the secondary through play-action. Mitch has only thrown out of play-action 15.1% of the time this season for 72 yards, more numbers that put him among the bottom third of the league. Week 2 in Denver saw Nagy lean heavily on the run after basically abandoning it against Green Bay. A more balanced play calling plan should open up the opportunity for big plays via play-action, again something everyone saw Dak do against this defense last week. That successful balanced attack shouldn’t be tough to do against a team that’s currently averaging 68 defensive snaps and 34:54 on the field each week.

Of course, the Washington defense could be looking at Nagy, Mitch and Co. and thinking the same thing – here’s the week that we right the ship against a bottom tier offense. Something’s gotta give between these two bumbling units, and which side prevails/how they execute will tell us if Nagy knows what he’s doing and if Mitch is capable enough to not waste this Chicago defense.

Passing stats from https://nocheckdowns.com/

 

Baseball

Ok, so it was less than a month ago that I was writing about being hopeful about Jon Lester. I never said I would ever make sense or be consistent. Lester might have said he would be, in some ways, but I’m just following him. Also, wasn’t it just yesterday I was here trying to make myself and maybe one or two others feel better about Hamels’s last three starts? This one is a little more dispiriting, as Lester had the Astros’ B-team lineup in front of him last night and still gave up seven runs. I was particularly galled in the 6th, with the Cubs have clawed back into the game, Lester wouldn’t give in to Derek Fisher ahead of Alex Bregman, clearly the biggest weapon the Astros had last night. I know Lester’s whole thing is that he never “gives in,” that “giving in” is for weaklings, and “giving in” is what’s ruining this country and whatever else. Still, it’s your last batter of the game, and it’s Derek Fisher. I’m finding out what he can do instead of what whatever clown comes out of the pen can do against Bregman (which took one pitch to find out and the conclusion wasn’t good).

Much like Hamels, Lester’s last three starts have been bad. 14 innings combined, 16 earned runs, four homers, 25 hits. That’s a whole lot of woof. When we last looked at this, we noted that Lester’s BABIP on the season was a hilariously low .231. Well, now it’s .333, which is also way above his career-average. The last three starts, that number is .411. That’s not just a violent market correction. That’s a market correction that is zippering open your chest and feasting on your liver nightly.

But it’s not like some or most of that isn’t deserved. If Lester qualified through innings, he’d had the third-highest hard-contact rate against right now. That’s not necessarily a death-sentence, as the one right behind him is one Madison Bumgarner, and he’s having at least a respectable season. Though Bumgarner also resides at Oracle Park, which requires a bazooka to get a ball out of most nights. Shane Bieber, Cleveland’s hot new thing, is also around this mark, and he’s got a 3.11 ERA that’s real. So does Robbie Ray, but both ray and Bieber strike out more hitters than Lester does. Still, it’s much higher than it’s ever been and that’s worth worrying about.

We also noted in that last post that Lester has gone to his cutter far more this season, and is trying to use it on both sides of the plate instead of just in on the hands of righties. It hasn’t always worked, and the last three starts…well…

Lester has gone away from using the outside corner with his cutter the last three starts, and when he hasn’t gotten it low and inside, he’s getting murdered. Lester has decreased the use of his cutter the last three starts, upping the use of his change and fastball. But the fastball hasn’t been doing much better, with a .571 slugging against in those three starts. He’s also getting next to now whiffs on it.

Lester had made reference to Sahadev Sharma in The Athletic that he just feels off, and this searching for a release point the past three starts speaks to that a bit:

On the plus side, Lester’s velocity has been climbing a bit in the past few starts. On the downside, it’s still down overall this year. It might just be that Lester doesn’t throw hard enough anymore to miss his spot at all, and that righties seem to be getting to fastballs off the plate inside suggest that.

We’ll have to see what Lester does in the next few starts to change, whether that’s more cutters trying to nick the outside corner or junking it up a bit with curves and changes. The Cubs are going to need something.

Everything Else

You find anyone willing to admit they’re a Senators fan these days. We were pointed to this person on Twitter, who confiscated our phones and made us where a shrouded hood while he drove in circles. We felt just like Pierre Dorion. Anyway, here’s what you need to know from the inside. 

We don’t want to be insulting, we know it’s been a rough summer for Senators fans, but…why are you even bothering this season?

 I guess at the end of the day it’s just entertainment. I’m still really looking forward to watching Mark Stone, who is one of my all-time favourite players. With Brassard gone and Pageau out for the year he won’t have good line mates, but that has never stopped him from producing or playing great defensively. I’m not sure if he’ll be a Senator after the deadline, but regardless he’ll be fun to watch.
Thomas Chabot on the top pair with Chris Wideman is also going to be great to watch. While Chabot was pretty bad defensively in his rookie season, he’s such a skilled player and has the potential to be a number #1 defenseman. I also think Wideman will surprise a lot of people. He was injured all last season, but in his 3rd pairing minutes the year before he was amazing. Size has always been an issue for him but he’s a good puck mover and does a great job of getting the puck to the net from the point.

Why should Pierre Dorion be trusted with the rebuild that is coming for the Senators? And if he’s not (he’s not) is there any hope that the higher-ups know it?

While so many of his trades have been brutal, Dorion’s biggest strength is his drafting ability. As a GM he’s managed to pluck some great prospects outside of the 1st round like Formenton (47th overall, 2017), Batherson (121st overall, 2017), and the Dahlen he traded for Burrows (42th overall, 2016). While the Sens don’t really have a young guy with star potential outside of Chabot, they have a surplus of players who look like a safe bet to develop into top six forwards/top 4 defensemen.
I honestly don’t see him getting fired any time soon. I think Eugene Melnyk really likes him, and they seem to have a strong relationship. What they need to focus on now is building up the front office. With no assistant general managers, Dorion was running the team alone all summer. They hired a lot of scouts over the past month, brought in a new assistant GM, and are still looking for another one. Scouting and development are so important during a rebuild, so I think providing more resources to both Dorion and their prospects will have a bigger return on investment than any free agent signing they could possibly make.

Is it really advisable to have Brady Tkachuk spend the season in Ottawa?

I think it is. He isn’t eligible for the AHL so the Sens would have to send him back to the OHL. I don’t think he would progress much in his development there because it wouldn’t be challenging enough. As an 18 year-old he was 4th in points and 1st in shots on his Division 1 NCAA team, so playing in the OHL as a 192 pound 19 year-old against teeenagers would be nothing for him. Since he’s already so physically mature and defensively responsible I think the NHL would be the best option for him.

Is the only endgame here somehow getting Eugene Melnyk to sell the team? Is that in any way feasible?

The Sens just completed a $135M refinancing over the summer, so I don’t think there will be a sale this season. With something like 4,000 season ticket holders, an angry fanbase, zero optimism surrounding the team and a downtown arena still years away (the Sens play 25km from downtown) I really don’t see things getting better anytime soon.
Having a low payroll will make it hard for them to be anything better than a bubble team, but it’s not insurmountable. The Sens have a lot of good prospects coming through the pipeline, so taking advantage of their cheap ELCs and first RFA contracts will be key over the next few years. But they absolutely need to find a way to move Bobby Ryan’s contract and have to trade Ceci at the deadline.

 

 

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