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Fields of Nightmares

So Santa has us on his naughty list. I can't imagine why; we're the best team in football. Instead of getting a nice present, we were run over like Grandma by a reindeer in the song. But that's in the past, so let's ring in the New Year with a victory over the Sick-ago Bears.


Chicago Bears:

Record/Standing: 3-12-0 (4th in NFC North)

Expected W/L: 5.3-9.7

Strength of Schedule: .567

Overall DVOA: -21.3% (29th)


Offence:

Fields has a 3-11 record under center this season. He has attempted 21.2 passes a game, completing 13.2 attempts for a 62.3% completion rate and 154.8 yards (7.3 Y/A). He averages 1.14 TDs and 0.71 interceptions a game. His 21.2 attempts a game are the lowest of any QB who has started more than 6 games, and only 6 QBs who have started more than 3 have attempted fewer passes per game. His CPOE is -4.2%, suggesting he is inaccurate, though his receivers have been credited with 16 drops this season. However, given how PFR discredits him with an 18.9% bad throw rate, we can presume it's the former. He is also inefficient through the air, averaging -0.21 EPA/dropback, while also ranking 32nd in FO's DYAR and EYds metrics (-331 and 1,283 respectively), and 33rd in DVOA (-26.55). He is good on third down, however, as he is 9th in FO's ALEX metric (+1.8). In other, more popular, efficiency metrics, he has an 88.3 passer rating and a 55.4 QBR. To make things easier for him, Getsy schemes up 32.5% of his passes to come off play action, with only 14.1% of his pass attempts going deep and 8.8% going into tight windows. Overall, Fields is a passable QB at best, with his real threat coming from his legs rather than his arm.


FO has Chicago's OL ranked 12th in the run game, creating 4.48 adjusted line yards and 4.50 RB yards. They have a 79% power run success rate, which is the 4th best in the league. They create 1.26 second-level yards (13th) and 0.78 open-field yards (18th). Their 1.73 YBCo/Att ranks 7th in the league, while their overall rushing success rate of 42.9% ranks 14th. They are stuffed on 16% of their runs, which is 4th best. They have 67 runs go for more than 10 yards, the 2nd best number in the league. The Bears are efficient with their runs, gaining 1.17 RYOE/attempt, again the 2nd-best mark in the league. They run inside the tackles on 37.9% of their rushing attempts, the 7th lowest rate in the league, suggesting that the line is perhaps not the main contributor to the team's rushing success. What also helps their run game is that they face a stacked box on only 20.7% of their rushing attempts, the 16th most in the league, and a light box on 40.9%, the 17th most in the league. Therefore, one can assume that the OL is getting boosted by those running behind it; in particular, Fields scrambling from traditional pass sets where the defence is focused on the pass.


They are ranked as the worst OL in pass protection by FO, with a 12.7% adjusted sack rate. However, they give Fields 3.1 seconds to throw, which is the best in the league, and have a time to pressure of 3.44 seconds, the third best in the league (though one can assume these numbers are inflated by Field's mobility and his tendency to hold onto the ball). They give up a sack on 13.2% of dropbacks, the worst rate in the league, and pressure on 37% of dropbacks, a rate only beaten by the Titans. Therefore, if a team can contain Fields and then get pressure, the Bears' passing offence is liable to fall apart.


The Bears' leading back is Montgomery. He takes 13.4 handoffs a game, taking them for 54.0 yards (4.0 Y/A), 2.86 first downs, 0.36 TDs, and 0.14 fumbles. He gets -0.18 RYOE/attempt, -0.09 EPA/attempt, and has a 38.0% rushing success rate. NGS gives him a rushing efficiency of 3,025.2. By FO, he is 20th in DYAR (68), 24th in EYds (760), and 18th in DVOA (0.4%). The backup to Montgomery is the newly returned Herbert. He totes the ball 10.4 times a game for 59.1 yards (5.7 Y/A), 2.09 first downs, and 0.36 TDs. Herbert creates 1.66 RYOE/attempt, -0.01 EPA/attempt, and is credited with a 42.0% rushing success rate. NGS has him with a 2,114.2 rushing efficiency. He is FO's 5th RB by DVOA (15.5%), 11th by DYAR (106), and 34th by EYds (511). Their rushing leader is naturally Fields. He carries the ball 10.7 times a game, getting 72.2 yards (6.7 Y/A), 4.43 first downs, 0.57 TDs and 1.04 fumbles. He creates 3.24 RYOE/attempt, +0.38 EPA/attempt, and a 53.0% rushing success rate. NGS gives him a 3,804.2 rushing efficiency. It is through the ground game that the Bears' offence runs and it is on the ground game that we should focus.


Their most targeted active receiver is Claypool. He is thrown at 4.4 times a game, catching 2.4 of these targets (54.5%) for 22.2 yards (9.3 Y/R), 0.6 drops, 1 first down, and a passer rating of 68.6 when targeted. He is targeted on 20% of the routes he runs and averages 3.3 yards of separation. His catch rate is 3% under expected, and he creates -0.1 EPA/target. He is FO's 76th WR by DYAR (-44) and DVOA (-20.5%), and is 72nd in EYds (394). On the other side of the formation, the bad St. Brown brother is targeted 2.43 times a game, getting 1.29 receptions (52.9%) for 21.4 yards (16.7 Y/R), 0.07 drops, 0.93 first downs, 0.07 TDs, and a 56.0 passer rating. He is targeted on 16% of the routes he runs, getting 3.6 yards of separation on average. He has a CROE of -6.0%, and he gets negligible EPA/target as he only has +0.9 EPA overall. In the slot, Pettis catches 1.13 balls a game on 2.27 targets (50.0%) for 15.1 yards (13.3 Y/R), 0.2 drops, 0.53 first downs, 0.20 TDs, and a passer rating of 88.6 when targeted. He is targeted on 16% of the routes he runs, creating 3.8 yards of separation on average. He has a CROE of -15.0% and an EPA/target of -0.3. Their tight end Kmet is targeted 4.07 times a game, catching 2.93 of these (72.1%) for 30.7 yards (10.5 Y/R), 0.13 drops, 1.47 first downs, 0.33 TDs, and a 93.6 passer rating. He is targeted on 19% of his routes run, getting 3.7 average yards of separation. He has posted a CROE of -3.0% and +0.1 EPA/target. Kmet is the 17th TE in the NFL by DVOA (5.6%) and DYAR (52) and 13th in EYds (455). Out of the backfield, Montgomery is thrown at 2.64 times a game for 2.29 catches (86.5%), 21.7 yards (9.5 Y/R), 0.07 drops, 0.71 first downs, 0.07 TDs, and a passer rating of 98.6 when targeted. He has a CROE of +4.0%, averaging 3.5 yards of separation, and being targeted on 18.0% of his routes run. He gets +0.2 EPA/target. Overall, their biggest receiving threats are Kmet and Montgomery; both of whom play positions we are notoriously bad at covering.


The Bears most commonly run 11 personnel on offence, using it 62% of the time. From this set, they throw the ball on 62% of plays for -0.03 EPA/p. They also deploy 12 and 21 personnel on more than 10% of offensive snaps. Overall, on their offensive plays, the Bears run the ball on 57.6% of their plays. They average -0.22 EPA/pass, +0.07 EPA/rush, and -0.05 EPA/p.


The main priority in stopping the Bears is to stop the run. Their passing game shouldn't scare us, but Fields could tear us apart on the ground. We need to put last week's disaster in the rearview mirror, reset and (risking incurring the wrath of my fellow fans) get the fundamentals right. Stop the run and we should be able to win.


Defence:

Per FO, Chicago has the 24th run defence, allowing 4.72 adjusted line yards and 5.00 RB yards. They allow a 78% power success rate, which is the 30th best rate in the league, 1.35 second-level yards (24th) and 1.11 open field yards (28th). They stuff 15% of the runs against them, good for the 24th-best in the league. Their leader in run stops is Morrow, who gets 3.53 a game, 0.33 of which are hustle run stops. Sanborn leads their team in hustle run stops with 1.25 out of his 3.63 run stops a game qualifying as a hustle. They are allowing 4.9 yards per rushing play against them (27th), 1.83 of which are before contact (30th), and 0.93 RYOE/attempt (29th). They stack the box on 17.7% of plays, the 10th lowest rate in the league, and deploy light boxes on 45.0% of plays, the 12th most in the league. They have allowed 62 runs of 10+ yards, the 3rd most in the league. All in all, the Bears do not have a good run defence, and hopefully, this could be a get-right game for our backfield.


The Bears have the 2nd-worst pass rush per FO, with a 4.7% adjusted sack rate. They allow their opponents an average time to throw of 2.79 seconds (18th), with an average time to pressure of 3.14 seconds (24th) off an average get-off of 0.89 seconds (26th). They only get pressure on 19.5% of their opponents' dropbacks, which is the worst pressure rate in the league. Gipson leads the team in pressures with 1.53 a game off a 10.0% pressure rate, with 0.13 sacks a game (1.0% sack rate). He has an average time to pressure of 3.15 seconds, and a time to sack of 4.29 seconds, off an average get-off of 0.97 seconds. His pressure has caused 1 turnover so far this season. The only other Bears player with more than 20 QB pressures so far this year is Jones who gets 1.33 a game (7.0%), creating 0.13 sacks (1.0%). Overall, the Bears' pass rush is weak and should not be feared.


The Bears' secondary allows an average of 3.8 yards of separation. Their most targeted player is Gordon, who has allowed 49 receptions on 67 targets (73.0% catch rate on a 20.5% target rate, +1.0% CROE) for 607 yards (12.4 Y/C), 2 TDs, 3 INTs, +10.5 EPA, 4.1 yards of separation average and a 92.1 passer rating when targeted. On the other side of the field, Jones is targeted on 17.7% of his coverage snaps for 36 targets, 23 catches (64.0%, -1.0% CROE), 278 yards (12.1 Y/C), +19.4 EPA, an average of 3.3 yards of separation and an 87.5 passer rating. In the slot, Blackwell has been thrown at on 32.5% of his coverage snaps for 13 targets, 8 catches (62.0% catch rate, -10.0% CROE), 63 yards (7.88 Y/C), -1.6 EPA, 5.1 yards of separation, and a 73.6 passer rating in coverage. Further forward, Morrow is targeted on 10.3% of his coverage snaps for 37 targets, 29 catches (78.0%, +3.0% CROE), 344 yards (11.9 Y/C), 1 TD, 1 INT, +9.8 EPA, 4.3 yards of separation, and a 103.2 passer rating. At safety, Brisker is targeted on only 8.7% of his coverage snaps for 28 targets, 12 catches (43.0%, -16.0% CROE), 167 yards (13.9 Y/C), 3 TDs, 1 INT, -7.3 EPA, an average of 3.0 yards of separation and an 83.5 passer rating. Beside him, Houston-Carson has been targeted on 7.8% of his coverage snaps, allowing 2 catches on 10 targets (20.0%, -47.0% CROE), 63 yards (31.5 Y/C), 1 INT, -12.4 EPA, 4.1 yards of separation, and a 2.8 passer rating. Therefore, one can presume the passing attack will be on the table, though deep shots might be hit-or-miss with how well Houston-Carson is playing.


The Bears most commonly run 335 nickel on their defensive snaps, using it on 46% of plays. On these plays, they face a pass on 59% of these snaps, allowing 0.01 EPA/p. They also use 344 base and 425 nickel on more than 10% of their defensive snaps. On defence, the Bears face a run on 51.6% of their play. They allow +0.09 EPA/pass, +0.03 EPA/rush, and +0.06 EPA/p.


This is the perfect get-right game for our offence, as the Bears' defence is vulnerable to both the pass and run. If we can get Goff into a rhythm, we should be able to shred this defence.


Special Teams:

Santos is an okay kicker, but he has a mistake in him.

Gill is not good.

None of their returners hold a candle to Raymond in the punt return game, but they come close to Jackson in the kick return game.


Keys to Victory:

  1. Contain Fields- This speaks for itself. Fields scares me far more on the ground than he does through the air. He is so good on the ground that the Bears' social media team thought it was a good idea to tweet this...

  2. Stop the run- This might seem to be the exact same as Key 1. But it needs to be said again. The Bears' offence runs through the ground game. Stop that and their train grinds to a halt.

  3. Attack their linebackers- As for most, if not all of, NFL defences, the Bears' LBs are the big weakness of their defence. Attack them, in the passing game and in the running game. Dictate terms to them, not vice versa.

  4. Use the intermediate passing game- Their FS is a good player according to the stats he's accumulated in his small playing time so far. We should test him, especially if Jamo's snap count is stepped up again. We need Goff to get on the same page as him, and that should start this week.

Predictions:

  • Goff- 24/35, 275 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 99.1 passer rating; 1 scramble, 5 yards

  • Williams- 12 carries, 45 yards, 1 TD; 2 targets, 1 catch, 10 yards

  • St. Brown- 10 targets, 8 catches, 75 yards, 1 TD; 1 carry, 10 yards

  • Cominsky- 3 tackles (1 solo), 2 run stops, 1 TFL; 2 pressures, 0.5 sacks

  • Anzalone- 7 tackles (5 solo), 1 run stop; 1 pressure

  • Jacobs- 4 tackles (3 solo), 1 run stop; 1 PD


  • Fields- 12/23, 160 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 70.9 passer rating; 11 scrambles, 95 yards, 1 TD

  • Montgomery- 13 carries, 50 yards, 1 TD; 3 targets, 2 catches, 15 yards

  • Kmet- 6 targets, 4 catches, 45 yards, 1 TD

  • Gipson- 2 tackles, 1 run stop, 0.5 TFL; 1 pressure

  • Morrow- 8 tackles (5 solo), 1 run stop, 0.5 TFLs; 1 pressure

  • Brisker- 6 tackles (5 solo); 1 PD

Hot take- Kalif gets at least 10 rushing, receiving, and return yards

Score- Lions 30- Bears 24


Draft Rooting Guide-

7) Lions (via Rams)- lose to the Chargers

6) Falcons- lose to the Cardinals

5) Colts- win vs the Giants

4) Cardinals- win vs the Falcons

3) Seahawks (via Broncos)- win vs the Chiefs

2) Bears- soooooo I say lose to us even if a Bears win would improve the Rams' pick

1) Texans- win vs the Jaguars


How do you think the game will go? Who will win this week and take home bragging rights in the Black and Blue division? Will Justin play us off the Fields? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?

 

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