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Don't Sweat It

Apologies for no preview articles the past few weeks. Thanksgiving came too soon for me to be able to give you a proper look, and time ran out last week for me to put out an article on the Saints. But I am back to give you the lowdown on the stats for the Bears. Hopefully, it's a good sign to let us get out of this slump we've been in the past few weeks.


Offence:

According to nfelo's metrics, Fields is the 19th best QB in the league, adding 0.4 points of "value" over the average starter. His 1.9% CPOE is 19th best of all QBs to have played this season, his 2.7% TD-INT rate is 15th in the league and his -0.05 EPA/dropback is 33rd. Fields has -0.2 WPA on the season (35th) and his WPA/dropback ranks 34th in the league. His -0.06 EPA over the league average on sacks is 44th, his 0 EPA over the average on interceptions is 26th, his -0.02 EPA over average on air yards is 32nd, and his -0.01 EPA over the league average on penalties is 42nd in the league. Even his best trait, running the ball, isn't so great when measured against the league average as his 0.01 EPA over the average is 16th in the league. All in all, the advanced metrics tell us that Fields has at best been a league-average QB, and at worst not even viable as a starter at all. In my opinion, this might actually be more down to scheme than talent, but it's still something worth discussing.

Even by PFF grades, Fields is hovering in that cluster of QBs who are league-average or below. His 73.8 offence grade is 18th of the 39 QBs with more than 120 dropbacks on the season, his 67.0 passing grade is 22nd and his 28.7 fumble grade is 35th. His 83.0 rushing grade is 4th and perhaps inflates the aforementioned offence grade. According to PFF, Fields' weakness when passing the ball is targeting the intermediate area of the field, as his 55.9 passing grade targeting these areas is 31st with a 20% attempts cutoff, and targeting receivers behind the line with his 65.3 grade throwing behind the LOS is 30th with the same cutoff. Yet, the Bears keep forcing him into these throws with 18.6% of his attempts targeting behind the line and 12.7% attacking the intermediate area of the field.


A key to the game might be to pressure Fields as his offence grade drops by 22.8 points when he is pressured compared to when he is kept clean by the line, and blitzing could be a viable option to do this as Fields is PFF's 25th best QB against the blitz with a 64.5 grade against the blitz. This is compounded by the fact that the Lions are the 4th best team in terms of pressure percentage when blitzing on early downs with pressure being created on 52% of these blitzes. Having Anzalone back will really help this as he is both a good blitzer and his coverage ability will free up Campbell, Barnes and Rodrigo to be able to come down on blitzes while AA covers the middle of the field. Fields himself is responsible for 19.1% of the pressures on him, which is the 7th-worst rate of QBs in the league.


With the injuries in the Bears' WR room, DJ Moore becomes even more of a priority to focus on. He is PFF's WR9 with an 88.1 offence grade and 87.5 receiving grade. His 14.4 yards per reception is 28th of WRs with at least 27 targets on the season, his 2.37 yards/route run is 15th and his 1.4% drop rate is 5th, but his 11.8-yard ADOT is tied for 42nd. Even contested catches aren't an issue for Moore as his 55% success rate on these is 19th of WRs who meet the above cut-off. The only other true receiver of note for the Bears is Darnell Mooney but he doesn't even meet the cut-off, showing how important Moore is to this offence, injuries or not. He has a 57.8 offence grade on the season and his 62.0 receiving grade is 7th best on the team. Despite Branch saying Mooney was one of the hardest receivers he has had to cover this season, he hasn't been as involved this season in the offence, so even if they scale up his looks due to the injuries they are having, he doesn't have the timing down with Fields this season. This means there could be chances to pick off bad throws targeting Mooney when there is any miscommunication between receiver and quarterback.


Cole Kmet has arguably cemented himself as a top-10 TE this season, though we of course have the best one in the division. Of TEs to have at least 21 targets on the season, Kmet is 10th in offence grade (72.8), 7th in receiving grade (75.8), and 26th in pass-blocking grade (60.2), while he has the 38th highest grade of TEs to play at least 57 run-blocking stats (56.9). His 8.6 yards per reception is 32nd of all TEs to have the aforementioned 21 or more targets on the season, but his 1.49 yards per route run is tied for 11th. Kmet's weakness is contested catches, as his 40% success rate is 21st for this TE group. Therefore, having someone close to him in coverage knocking him as he attempts the catch is the way to beat him. This is especially proven by the fact Kmet has a worse receiving grade against man (63.4) than against zone (73.8), though Moore has grades of over 80 against both zone and man so he still is the big worry for the secondary.


When it comes to running the ball, former Lion killer D'Onta Foreman is the Bears' best back and is PFF's RB13 (with a 44-carry cut-off) with an 80.9 rushing grade. His 4.1 yards per carry is tied for 27th of these RBs, and his 2.80 yards after contact ranks tied-35th. His 5.8% breakaway run rate is the 55th-best mark of the RB group. Khalil Herbert is not far behind with a 78.7 rushing grade (tied-17th), 4.5 yards per attempt (t-15th), 3.11 yards after contact (14th), and 28.7% breakaway rate (16th). As it is a bargain-basement version of our backfield (Monty and Gibbs are 7th and 22nd in rushing grade respectively), our defence should have some ideas of how to stop them.


The weak link on the offensive line in pass protection is Darnell Wright. He has given up 38 pressures this season (6 sacks, 1 QB hit and 31 hurries) for a 62.3 pass-blocking grade. On the interior, center Lucas Patrick is still the weakness with 19 pressures allowed on the season (18 hurries and a QB hit) for a 41.6 grade. Alim will be a big miss in this game as he could have swum past Patrick like he is a bunch of candy floss that's been dropped into the pool by a stropping toddler. As for Wright, he could be matched up against Hutch so that will be a battle to watch, especially since we have little pass-rush production elsewhere on our defensive line.

 

Defence:

Midseason acquisition Montez Sweat has been the best Bears' run defender on the defensive line with a 79.1 grade on the season. He has made 17 solo tackles on the season, and 8 assisted, with an average depth of 2.2 yards and no missed attempts. 11 of his tackles have been run stops. The worst starter on the line in run defence is Justin Jones with a 46.1 run defence grade. He has missed 6 of his tackle attempts (16.7% missed tackle rate). He has made 19 solo tackles and 11 assisted tackles, with 13 of his tackles being run stops. His tackles have an average depth of 1.2 yards.


The Bears' best pass rusher according to PFF is THEIR NOSE TACKLE Andrew Billings with a 69.1 pass-rush grade. He has 18 pressures on the season (2 QB hits and 16 hurries) for a 10.7% pass-rush win rate. In terms of number of pressures, Sweat is the best with 45 on the season (11 sacks, 7 hits and 27 hurries) for an 11.9% win rate, and the worst starter is Billings with his 18 pressures.


In the linebacker room, they are led by a Sewell so they learnt from our example that having a Sewell instantly upgrades a position group. Unfortunately, Noah has only played 25 snaps so one must ignore his 86.5 grade. The best starter in the linebacker room is T.J. Edwards with his 81.2 grade (82.0 run defence, 70.6 tackling, 85.2 pass rush and 70.6 coverage). He has made 92 solo and 26 assisted tackles but has also missed 13 further attempts (9.9% missed tackle rate). 48 of his tackles have been run stops. He has 9 pressures on the season (2 sacks, 5 hits and 2 hurries). Edwards has also allowed receptions on 80.6% of targets his way for 10.7 yards per reception (8.8 yards after the catch).


In the secondary, Johnson has allowed catches on 50% of throws his way for 8.1 yards per reception (4.6 after the catch), 5 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and a further 3 dropped interceptions for a 90.4 coverage grade from PFF. On the other side, former draft crush of mine Tyrique Stevenson has a 48.9 coverage grade from PFF, having allowed receptions on 71.2% of his targets for 9.9 yards per reception (4.0 after the catch), 7 pass breakups, 1 interception and a dropped interception. In the slot, Kyler Gordon has been around average with a 62.2 coverage grade. He has given up catches on 73% of his targets for 9.2 yards per reception (3.6 after the catch), 2 PBUs and an interception.


Eddie Jackson, despite reports he has fallen off, is still the BEars' best coverage safety with a 63.2 coverage grade from PFF. He has allowed catches on 66.7% of his targets for 13.5 yards per reception (2 yards after the catch) and 2 PBUs. Jaquan Brisker has fared as well with a 54.9 grade from PFF. He has allowed catches on 64.5% of his targets for 11.3 yards per reception (2.8 after the catch) and 2 pass breakups.

 

Special Teams:

Cairo Santos kicks both the field goals and the kickoffs. He has an 87.5 grade on kickoffs, with only 18.6% of them being returned, leaving the opposition starting on the 26.2-yard yard line on average as the non-returned kicks all went for touchbacks. His kickoffs average 4.03 seconds of airtime. He also has an 81.6 grade on field goals, having hit all but one of his extra-point tries and all but two of his field goals, with both of his misses coming between 40 and 49 yards.


Trenton Gill hasn't been as great with a 62.5 grade on his punts. 30.9% of his punts have landed in the opposition 20, and 50% of his punts have been returned for 14.7 yards per return. 9.5% of his punts have gone for touchbacks, 9.5% have gone out-of-bounds, 14.2% have been downed by the Bears and 16.6% have been fair-caught. His punts average 4.33 seconds of hang time.


Trent Taylor has been the Bears' primary returner, earning himself a 65.8 grade on kick returns and 67.7 on punt returns, having fair caught 59.2% of the punts he's faced.

 

Hot Take: By some miracle or similar act of God, Luke Getsy completely misuses Fields' mobility and we limit him to less than 50 yards on the ground


Score Prediction: I honestly don't know how this is going to go, which scares me. No explanation from me this week, just pure vibes.


Chicago Bears 17, Detroit Lions 21


How do you see the game going? Will the Lions roar to an away victory at Soldier Field, or will the Bears punish us for any potential slip-ups?

 

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