Bears Midway Observations And Other Musings

Progress has been made and that in itself should be enough to encourage a Bears fan. Forget about the naysayers like former two time loser NFL General Manager Micheal Lombardi who has quickly turned into a media troll the infamous and shamed ex Chicago Sun Times Sports columnist Jay Mariotti would be jealous of. His take on Mitch Trubisky is both laughable and simply way off the mark.

Rather than go by the merits of just good analysis and journalism he has chosen the path of generating interest by negativity and counting on hate clickbait. Tells you all you need to know about just how good or in this case, bad he is at NFL observation. You don’t even need to check his woeful decisions and roster building to confirm that fact.

You can add to that the doubters of the teams record and how they’ll match up with the league in the second half of the season from guys like Sirius radio analyst for the NFL Brady Quinn. He along with many others question the validity of the Bears place in the league and their record based on the fact they’ve taken advantage of teams that have a combined 14-28 record in their wins.

Although true, what the doubting media fail to realize is that those victories come with 3 losses by a combined 11 points. Games that included a one point loss to Green Bay after dominating them for three quarters and would have won the game if Matt Nagy didn’t make decisions that he would certainly not make now knowing his roster more.

Than there’s the refusal of Vic Fangio to pressure Aaron Rodgers particularly up the A gaps after he suffered a knee injury in the first half that prohibited his mobility. There was also the curious decision of playing off man coverage rather than press to offset route timing when the Packers made the halftime adjustment to go to the quick passing game to offset the Bears dominant pass rush.

There’s also the dropped interception by Kyle Fuller with nothing but green grass in front of him for what would have been a game sealing pick six. That led to the game winning touchdown when Eddie Jackson made another player mistake of diving for a pass breakup rather than just making the tackle.

The Bears than dominated the Miami Dolphins on the road but were hurt by the early injury to Kahlil Mack which hurt the pass rush. There was also the curious decision on Fangio’s part to once again refuse to press and send heat up the middle versus an immobile Quarterback. This especially after the Packers adjustment at halftime of game one to offset the Bears pass rush going to the quick passing game which is exactly what Dolphins head coach Adam Gase did with Brock Oesweiler. Let’s not forget the aberration they had tackling and the heat factor. Anyone who watched that game would not say the Bears got beat but rather the Bears lost that game.

The Patriot game came down to one yard of tying the game at home while giving up 14 points on special teams on two plays that included a fluke and a missed penalty by the referees. A blocked punt where Ben Braunecker – an excellent special teams player – was tripped by his own teammate and was easily overpowered by Donte Hightower for the blocked punt returned for a Touchdown.

The other touchdown came on an obvious block behind the back penalty to Bears special teams ace Sherrick McManis who had Cordarell Paterson lined up for the tackle. The refs missed it and once Patterson broke through the hole it required one juke on a player in the open field and out running the Bears punter Patrick O’Donnell on a gallop to the end zone.

So, the Bears did lose to the winning teams they faced other than the Seahawks who are .500 at 4-4 but the margin of those losses were so close it’s hard to male some grand proclamation that the Bears are a fluke who would be a one and done post season team should they make!it!by beating up on the also rans of the league. Particularly this early in the Bears new coaching regime under Nagy.

To this point the Bears are exceeding expectations. Especially how this offense has performed only eight games in their existence as currently constituted. Check out these numbers comparative to their peers in the league.

The Bears are currently ranked 3rd in the NFL in point differential at +10.2 and trending up with over 13 in their last 3. This after being -3.5 in 2017. A 13.3 difference. Bears are clearly one of if not the most improved team in the league.

Trubisky currently 7th in the league in the ESPN stat QBR with a 72.4 rating. Ironically a network that is hard on Trubisky and the Bears who are being contradicted by their own proprietary stat. Not bad for a quarterback who is apparently under performing in his second year and first in a complex offense only 8 games in. This after being drafted with the least college game experience of any Quarterback in NFL history.

Trubisky’s accomplished this while he is among the most Quarterbacks blitzed and ranked 7th being blitzed 28.2% of his drop backs. So for a young learning Quarterback he has acquitted himself well facing pressure.

One last thing about Trubisky’s unwarranted criticism. He is producing. Enough said. How can you criticize these numbers I copy and pasted off an Adam Jahns piece via the Sun Times. 64.2 completion percentage, 1,949 passing yards, 16 touchdown passes, seven interceptions, 302 rushing yards and two touchdown runs.

Bears rank 10th tied with the Packers and Saints in explosive plays with 42. This incorporates 15+ rushing and 20+ through the air.

Some Bears Red Zone target numbers courtesy of DaBearsBros:

T. Cohen -10 Targets -6 Catches -3
A. Robinson -9 Targets – 3 Catches – 2 TDs
T. Burton -8 Targets -7 Catches -4 TDs
A. Miller -6 Targets -3 Catches -2 TDs
T. Gabriel -5 Targets -4 Catches -2 TDs

Bears are dramatically improved in this department and have been incredibly efficient. Mainly due to both the play calling and the addition of talent. The scary part is this number figures to spike with more experience and the addition of Adam Shaheen.

Bears are also the 6th best scoring team in the league at 29.4 a game. They are 3rd at yards per point at 12.2, 2nd at yards per point margin at 4.6, tied for 5th with Pittsburgh at points per play at 0.463, tied for 6th with the Bengals at touchdowns per game with 3.5 a contest and the beat goes on. If you go to teamrankings.com you’ll see the Bears in the top of the league in most of the positive offensive categories in the league. Another monkey in the wrench for the value of competition played detractors is they’ve done this against 4 of the currently top 10 ranked defenses in the league out of 8 opponents. Green Bay and the Patriots not being among them either. Two teams they lost to. I’d say there’s plenty of room for projection going ahead.

Let’s not leave out the contributions of the Bears defense either. The Bears Defense is not giving up big plays. They are tied with the Texans and Cowboys giving up the least 15+ runs and 20+ passing yards with 29.

Bears also are ranked number one against the pass in a historic passing season and era allowing an 80.5 QB rating.

Bears also are 2nd at offensive points per game allowed at 17.4, tied for 3rd with Dallas and Baltimore at offensive Touchdowns per game given up with 2.0, 2nd at red zone TDs given up with 1.2, 5th at yards allowed 321.4, and 3rd at rushing yards allowed with an 85.0 average a game. As with the offense they are at the top 10 in most positive Defensive categories.

Special teams not bad either minus the New England disaster. They are 6th at gross yards given up per punt with a 43.5 average. Among other high ranks in special teams! They are a top ten special teams defensive unit.

Bears also are among the least penalized teams in the league with an average of 6.2 a game good enough for 9th best. They rank 7th in giveaways a game at 1.4 which sounds good but they are in a 6th place tie and given the tied rankings in this category combined this is a top 14 list so Bears are mid league ranked average wise here and need to improve. However, generally for a young offense with a young Quarterback they don’t beat themselves. The Bears 5-3 record is legit and should be taken very seriously.

I do understand the wait and see approach. Ultimately, the Bears may not be a factor in the Superbowl contending category but that can be said of nearly the entire league of teams in the playoff blob. You can maybe put 5 teams in the proven real contender category. The Bears will have to prove themselves and should have to. No one can say with any certainty what this team is at this point but to think the Bears are anything but a team trending up and a success to this point should be disregarded as having a valid opinion on this Bears team and it’s coaches and players. The end.

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