126 Comments

Nick Foles Will Be the Starting Quarterback

| June 1st, 2020


For the Bears, there is no more important issue looming than which man will be under center receive the shotgun snap when the Bears take the field against Detroit in Week One. Today I want to dig into the stats to see what we can learn about Foles vs. Trubisky, as well as what to expect from whoever wins that derby compared to other QBs around the NFL.

The table below shows basic efficiency statistics for Trubisky and Foles in the Reid offense (so Trubisky in 2018-19 in Chicago and Foles in 2016 in KC and 17-18 in Philadelphia), plus the other three notable recent Reid QBs (Smith 13-17, Mahomes 18-19, Wentz 16-19). I’ll note I included playoff stats for everybody because otherwise Foles’ sample size is just so small (less than 350 with just regular season, just over 500 with playoffs included). I also included the NFL average for 2018-19 as a frame of reference for what’s roughly normal around the league. I split up the data into short and long passes (targeted more than 15 yards past the line of scrimmage) using Pro Football Reference’s game play finder.

That’s a lot of information to digest, so let’s look at short and deep passes separately.


Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , ,

283 Comments

ATM: Bears Need Defense to Buy Time

| February 5th, 2020

There are two lessons to be learned from the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory.

(1)A great quarterback is the ultimate trump card.

(2) Sometimes it takes a while to find that guy.

Kansas City’s start with Andy Reid was similar to Chicago’s with Matt Nagy. Both exceeded expectations with a playoff appearance in the first year then disappointed the next year. Through two seasons, Andy Reid was 20-12 with Kansas City, the same mark Nagy has with the Bears.

What followed for Kansas City was a number of seasons in which they were quasi-contenders with records of 11-5 and 12-4, thanks largely to their top-10 defense.

While Reid was trying to get whatever he could out of the offense, their defense ranked fifth, second, third and seventh in points allowed his first four years. They were also top 10 in yardage two of those seasons and top 10 in takeaways three times. Even in 2017, when KC’s defense dropped to 15th in scoring and 28th in yards allowed, they were seventh in takeaways and eighth in takeaways in 2018 as their offense exploded.

While much of the focus is on fixing the Bears offense, the reality is their defense is still the key to winning in 2020 and they must buy more time for the offense to get right.

Read More …

Tagged: ,

144 Comments

Super Bowl Preview: Andy Reid’s Legacy Game

| January 27th, 2020

This week, each of DBB’s writers – myself, Andrew, Data and Emily –  will be writing their own Super Bowl preview post. Then Friday we’ll culminate the week with a gambling guide, as no sporting contest played all year presents this many opportunities to lose money. 


Legacies in the NFL are a tricky thing, for quarterbacks and coaches.

Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are two of the most prolifically-talented winners in the history of the NFL. But as each approach the twilight of their careers, their legacies are complicated by only appearing in one Super Bowl a piece.

Eli Manning is, by every conceivable metric, a quarterbacking mediocrity. But for two months, for two playoff runs, he was an immortal. And now, no Giant will ever wear his number again. One of the most storied franchises in the NFL is retiring the number of a quarterback who was .500 as a starter and pitched a career quarterback rating of 84.1.

One Super Bowl victory is pivotal for the great coaches and quarterbacks. It stamps their career as valid. The second Super Bowl stamps their greatness. Three or more are reserved for the legends of the game.

Tony Dungy finally got his Super Bowl title. Two years later, he retired from the game, never to return. Bill Parcells hunted a third title for decades. Mike Holmgren a second. They knew what they needed to achieve to be remembered as they wished.

Andy Reid is 207-128 as a head coach, a .618 winning percentage. That’s better than Parcells. That’s better than Holmgren. Hell, Joe Gibbs is only at .621 and I think Gibbs is one of the two or three best coaches in the history of the league. (Gibbs has three Super Bowls, with three different quarterbacks, and none of those quarterbacks were particularly good.)

Read More …

Tagged: , ,

150 Comments

Building a Tight End Profile for the Matt Nagy/Andy Reid Offense

| April 8th, 2019

Like I have previously done with wide receivers and running backs, today I’m going to look at tight ends who have been drafted for this offense to see if there’s a physical profile they typically follow. In order to increase the sample size, I looked at every tight end drafted for a Reid offense in Philadelphia (1999-2012, 2016-18 with Doug Pederson) or Kansas City (2013-present). This list included ten players. Then I combed through their Combine performance to see if any patterns emerged.

Full data can be viewed here, but in general I found three trends:

  1. They are light. According to Mock Draftable, the average tight end at the Combine weighs in at around 255 pounds, but the average for the 10 TEs in this sample was just under 250 pounds. The heaviest tight end here was L.J. Smith, who weighed in at 258 pounds, in just the 67th percentile for all tight ends. Meanwhile, 3 of the 10 tight ends weighed in at 245 pounds or less, which falls in the bottom 15% for all tight ends.
  2. They are fast. The average Combine 40 time for all TEs is 4.72 seconds, but for this sample it was 4.70. That is significantly skewed by Cornelius Ingram, who ran a 4.96. If you remove him from the sample, the average 40 time for the other 9 players is 4.67 seconds, with 7 of the 9 coming in under 4.70. Ingram ended up being a poor fit in Reid’s offense, as he lasted just one year in Philadelphia after being drafted in the 5th round.
  3. They can jump. The average tight end at the Combine has a vertical jump of just under 33 inches, but the average in this sample is 34.3, with 8 of the 10 coming in at 33 inches or better.

This then gives us a rough profile of a tight end who would be targeted as a pass catcher in this offense. They should be under 260 pounds, run a sub 4.70 40, and have a 33″ or better vertical jump. These all make sense. The main purpose of a TE in this offense (at least for the U TE) is to be able to catch passes. They need to be athletic and able to challenge defenses down the field.

Now let’s look at which tight ends in the draft this year fit the profile. The table below shows all of the tight ends from the Combine, sorted by how many thresholds they hit. Misses are highlighted in red.


Read More …

Tagged: , ,

173 Comments

Bears Offense Should Take Significant Step Forward in 2019

| January 21st, 2019

Chicago’s defense was awesome in 2018, leading the NFL in points allowed, turnovers forced, touchdowns scored, and passer rating against. They also finished third in yards and sacks and were generally the best defense in the NFL by a wide margin. Their play propelled the Bears to a 12-4 finish, NFC North title, and the franchise’s first playoff berth in eight years.

It’s hard to expect much improvement from that unit in 2019. In fact, they’re almost certainly not going to repeat that level of dominance. So when I write that I expect the Bears to improve in 2019 and be one of the top Super Bowl contenders, that must mean I expect it to happen because of the offense.

Unlike the defense, there is plenty of room for improvement on that side of the ball. Chicago had a pretty mediocre offense in 2018. They finished:

  • 21st in yards per game
  • 20th in yards per play
  • 9th in points per game
  • 20th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rankings, an all-encompassing metric intended to evaluate an entire unit.

Outside of points per game – which was likely aided by all the turnovers and defensive touchdowns – the offense was pretty consistently below average in most important metrics. So why am I so confident the offense will improve next year, even though they probably won’t be making many significant personnel changes?

To put it simply: NFL history strongly suggests that significant improvement is coming.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

135 Comments

ATM: White and Miller Could Make Bears Attack Very Different

| August 1st, 2018

Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy have tried to build the 2018 betway平台 offense to be like those Nagy’s mentor Andy Reid had success with in the past. But they may have stumbled into something very different and entirely more fascinating. If Kevin White and Anthony Miller are both able to continue to play at the level they have in the early days of training camp, the Bears won’t have a choice but to put both on the field. That could change the entire offense.

While generally thought of as an offense that spreads the ball around, that hasn’t really been the case. In five years, Reid’s Chiefs have averaged:

  • 19.6% of their targets to the top receiver
  • 18% to the pass-catching tight end
  • 16.9% to running backs

Those numbers mostly held up with Doug Pederson in Philadelphia. His Eagles averaged:

  • 20.5% of their targets to the top receiver
  • 18.6% to the pass-catching tight end
  • 15% to running backs

Where it gets interesting, however, is when you look at the other positions. There you will find very little consistency.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

163 Comments

Which Reid Offense Will Chicago Most Resemble?

| July 9th, 2018

There’s been a good deal of talk this offseason about how the Bears will model their offense after the Kansas City Chiefs, which makes sense given that new head coach Matt Nagy spent his last several years in Kansas City learning from Andy Reid.

But I think Chicago’s offense will end up looking more similar to what Philadelphia has run the last two years under Doug Pederson, another branch on the Reid coaching tree. Even though both offenses are similar, there are some subtle yet important differences that are worth looking at. So today I want to start by looking at personnel to see which one Chicago matches better, and then I’ll compare and contrast offensive styles.

Personnel

Kansas City’s offense was built around three main producers: running back Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce. Those three combined for 4,069 of Kansas City’s 6,007 yards from scrimmage, meaning they were about 2/3 of the offense.

Quite frankly, the Bears just aren’t built to be that reliant on a small number of players. Outside of Jordan Howard and Allen Robinson, nobody has been a high-volume producer, and even Robinson has only hit 1,000 yards in a season once in his four years.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,

76 Comments

Will Adam Shaheen Have a Role in the Matt Nagy Offense?

| May 9th, 2018

John Fox’s coaching staff was bashed for not getting the ball to rookie tight end Adam Shaheen enough, but that doesn’t figure on changing much under Matt Nagy. Shaheen played just over 24% of the snaps last year. That number should increase in 2018, provided he can beat out Dion Sims as the starting in-line tight end. But if the moves this team has recently made turn out the way they think, it’s hard to see Shaheen catching a lot of passes in 2018.

Trey Burton & Friends

He’s not much of a blocker, but the Bears signed Burton to be their top tight end. The Bears made him one of the highest-paid tight ends in the league. That’s not happening if they don’t expect him to play nearly every snap. 

Burton’s signing alone didn’t indicate a smaller role for Shaheen. The club also invested heavily at receiver by paying Allen Robinson star money, Taylor Gabriel starter money and trading a 2019 second rounder to draft Anthony Miller with the 51st pick. Not only did the Bears spend a high pick on Miller, but they reportedly tried to move back up into the end of the first round to draft Calvin Ridley.

Their aggressiveness at the position is a strong indication that they’re going to have three receivers on the field quite a bit. Not a surprise. In his time in Kansas City, Matt Nagy’s offenses rarely utilized the second tight end. Over the past five years, KC’s second tight end averaged just 5.6% of the team’s targets — 29 per season. This is about the same as the fourth wide receiver. The third receivers came in at 9.2%.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , ,

108 Comments

Data Entry: Building a WR Profile for Chicago’s New Offense

| February 20th, 2018

The Combine approaches in a few weeks in Indianapolis, and with it an obsession over everything that can be measured. Height. Weight. Hand size. Three-cone. Jumping ability. Speed. Everybody will soon be discussing 40 times like they make the difference between a good and bad football player.

Before we get a bunch of data from the Combine, let’s take a look at which measurables might matter, specifically at wide receiver.

New head coach Matt Nagy comes from the Andy Reid offense in Kansas City, so I took a look at the Combine stats of WRs the Chiefs invested in  -either in the draft or free agency  -since Reid came to Kansas City in 2012. Basically, I wanted to find a physical profile for well-performing wide receivers in that offense that the Bears might look to follow this year. This can help us identify what wide receivers at the Combine might make sense as targets for the Bears in the draft.


Building the Profile

There were 8 Chiefs WRs identified that were drafted by them, signed to a substantial deal in free agency or earned a meaningful role with the team as an undrafted free agent since Reid took over in 2012. These players were Tyreek Hill, Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, Jehu Chesson, Demarcus Robinson, Da’Ron Brown, and De’Anthony Thomas. I used Mock Draftable to look up their Combine data (or found data from their pro day when the Combine was not available) in every category I could find, and compared it to the average WR mark in each of these categories that Mock Draftable has compiled. Full data can be seen here.

Many of the measurables didn’t show any clear pattern, but I identified three where players consistently scored well: 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump.

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , ,

89 Comments

Audibles From the Long Snapper: Ten Thoughts From Around the League

| October 21st, 2015

audibles

THOUGHTS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE

(1) Eli Manning was the best and worst player in the league on the FIRST TWO DRIVES of the Monday Night Football game. There’s never been a player like him in the league.

_____

(2) After the first week of the season it became in vogue to question whether Tampa Bay made a mistake selecting Jameis Winston over Marcus Mariota. In the four games since Winston has been undoubtedly the better player and Mariota has shown two features that worried many scouts: inability to absorb contact and lack of ball security. Interestingly enough, nobody has revisited this question in the national media. If Winston wants to know how he’ll be covered an an NFL quarterback, he should just call Cam Newton.

_____

(3) Is Cincinnati the best team in football right now? New England and Green Bay are not good defensively. Carolina and Denver are not good offensively. Cincy does everything well. They’ll still lose in the playoffs but they may be losing that game in the division round instead of wild card weekend.

_____

(4) You know what the worst development of the NFL season has been? The games stink.

_____

(5) I don’t care what the stats say. Brandon Marshall has been the best wide receiver in football this year. He’s transformed the New York Jets offense.

_____

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , , ,