Damn, that game against the Chargers was fun. Maybe not for me, because my heart went on a rollercoaster during that last quarter, but for the neutral it was a great game, which is probably why NFL UK voted it as the Game of the Week. This week, we take to the field against Fields and we'll all be singing a bit of Rachel Stevens as we'll be wanting Moore Moore Moore by the time the final whistle blows.
The Bears are big fans of 11 personnel, using it on 61% of their offensive snaps, throwing the ball on 67% of these plays for -0.04 EPA per play. They also employ 12 personnel on 24% of their offensive plays, running the ball 53% of the time for -0.08 EPA/play. The Bears also use 21 personnel on 9% of their plays for 0.15 EPA/play on a 51% run rate. Overall the Bears offence passes the ball on 58% of their offensive plays for -0.03 EPA/play.
The Bears' pass rate is 5.8% below expectation, which is the third-lowest pass rate over expected in the league, above only the Browns and Falcons. Their 13% usage of 21 personnel on first down ranks 7th in the league, and their 3% usage of 22 ranks 6th. The 6.7-yard aDOT of the Bears is 30th in the league with only our Lions and the Bengals having a shorter depth according to nfelo. Their -2.2-yard vs the sticks is 29th in the league. The Bears also go for it on 23.5% of the fourth downs they face, which is the 7th highest rate in the league. Chicago also has the 9th-best average time of possession so far this season with a mark of 30 minutes and 15 seconds.
Of the 32 QBs to attempt more than 150 passes so far this season, Fields is nfelo's 16th QB with exactly zero added value over an average starter, 17th in PFF offensive grade and 22nd in PFF passing grade. He has completed 61.7% of his pass attempts (27th best of all players to attempt a pass so far this season) for 200.2 yards (26th), 1.83 touchdowns (8th) and 1 interception per game (tied for 60th). He is also sacked 4 times a game (70th) for a loss of 23.8 yards total on average (69th).
He has completed 0.2% more of his passes than expected, which ranks 18th out of the qualifying quarterbacks, but his 72.9% adjusted completion rate ranks 26th. Fields' 4.2% big-time throw rate ranks 16th, 2.4% turnover-worthy play rate ranks joint-8th, and his 42.7% success rate on passes ranks 27th of qualifying QBs. Despite his mobility, 22.8% of the pressures on Fields are sacks, which ranks joint-25th, but his time-to-throw is the best in the league (3.23 seconds).
Fields's passing falters both against the blitz (PFF grade drops by just over 9 points) and pressure in general (passing grade drops by nearly 28 points). His passing grade increases by nearly 5 points on play action compared to traditional passes, but his passing grade decreases by nearly 12 points on screens. Despite only throwing deep on 16% of his attempts, he is elite on throws 20+ yards down the field with a 96.3 grade from PFF. Fields is unusually weak in the intermediate part of the field (10-19 yards from the LOS) with a 51.2 grade from PFF when throwing at this depth.
The Bears' best receiver is the man who has given this preview its name. DJ Moore has been the 12th-best receiver in the league this year with an 83.7 grade. He is targeted 7.10 times a game (36th of all players to be targeted so far this season) for 5.2 receptions (22nd), 79.3 yards (15th), 0.50 touchdowns (16th), 3.6 first downs (15th) and 0.1 fumbles (tied-309th). His 2.26 yards per route ran ranks 19th of all WRs in the league and 16th of WRs with at least 20 targets so far this season. Likewise, his 61.1% contested catch rate ranks 15th, his 123.3 passer rating when targeted is tied-16th, his 1.9% drop rate is 20th and his 15.3 yards per reception is 21st of the receivers who meet this 20-target threshold.
Only Darnell Mooney has had more than 20 targets in the receiver room but he only has a 62.7 grade (74th), gaining 14.6 yards per reception (27th) and 1.08 yards per route ran (27th), with an 8.3% drop rate (tied-80th), 33.3% contested catch rate (tied-65th) and a 68.4 passer rating when targeted (93rd). Cole Kmet has a 74.9 receiving grade (6th), gaining 9.1 yards per reception (26th), 1.53 yards per route ran (tied-10th), 0% drop rate (tied-1st), 25% contested catch rate (tied-31st), and a 112.7 passer rating when thrown at (5th).
Luckily for the Bears, they are activating their best running back off Injured Reserve this weekend. According to PFF, Khalil Herbert is the 12th-best running back in rushing grade with his 82.9 grade, and 9th best of backs who have carried the ball more than 37 times. He has carried the ball 10.2 times a game (40th), for 54.4 yards (27th), 0.00 touchdowns (tied for 101st), 2.40 first downs (37th) and 0.20 fumbles (tied-218th). Herbert's 3.57 yards after contact per attempt is the 5th best such mark, 5.3 yards per attempt is tied for 5th, and his 34.9% breakaway run rate is 9th best of backs with 37 carries on the season. Foreman has a 79.1 rushing grade (14th), 4.3 yards per attempt (tied-21st), 2.91 yards after contact per attempt (24th), and a 5.9% breakaway rate (54th).
The Bears' best pass blocker has been LT Braxton Jones with a 97.0% pass-blocking efficiency and 8 pressures allowed (1 sack, 1 QB hit and 6 hurries) for an 82.7 pass-blocking grade. These metrics rank 23rd, tied-5th and 7th respectively of tackles with at least 110 pass-blocking snaps on the season. Their worst has been C Lucas Patrick with a 47.9 grade, having allowed 14 pressures (1 hit and 13 hurries) for a 97.8% pass-blocking efficiency (30th, tied-19th and tied-12th respectively of centers with at least 110 pass-blocking snaps). In run blocking, Tevin Jenkins has been the best of the Bears' starting line with a nice 69.0 grade from PFF (15th-best guard with at least 70 run-blocking snaps), and the worst is free-agent signing Nate Davis with a 54.2 grade (tied for 57th of guards who meet that 70 snap threshold).
Overall, this Bears offence does not scare me. While Fields is able to run around like his hair is on fire to extend plays, he isn't great at throwing the ball. Therefore, while the contain and wait game plan may not have worked as well against Jackson and Herbert, this week we should continue it as this will force Fields into situations he is uncomfortable with, giving us the best chance to win. While I can foresee Chicago hurting us on a few RPOs or read options, for the most part, we should be able to hold their offence in check.
On defence, the Bears have finally pivoted to the even fronts Eberflus was known for before becoming the head coach in Chicago. The most common personnel package on defence for the Bears is 4-2-5 nickel, which they employ on 68% of their defensive snaps, facing a pass 73% of the time for 0.07 EPA/play. They run their 4-3-4 base package on 26% of plays, facing a run on 57% of plays for -0.06 EPA/play. Overall, the Bears face a pass on 66% of their defensive snaps for 0.05 EPA/play.
In run defence, their best linebacker is T.J. Edwards with an 84.5 grade, a 7.1% missed tackle rate, a 12.4% run stop rate and a 2.7-yard average depth of tackle. Of linebackers to play at least 75 run defence snaps, these numbers are 6th, tied-36th, tied-3rd and tied-19th in the league respectively. The worst has been big free-agent acquisition Tremaine Edwards with a 56.5 grade (67th), 14.3% missed tackle rate (66th), 6.7% run stop rate (50th) and 4.2-yard tackle depth (57th).
On the defensive line, their best run defender is technically Montez Sweat with an 83.9 grade (6th-best of DL to play more than 55 run defence snaps), 0% missed tackle rate (tied for 1st, obviously), 6.6% run stop rate (tied-114th) and 2.3-yard tackle depth (tied-125th). Their worst is the other starting edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue with a 38.9 grade (226th), 25% missed tackle rate (tied-228th), 4.7% run stop rate (tied-175th) and 2.0-yard tackle depth (tied-98th).
When it comes to rushing the passer, the best Bear is Andrew Billings with a 67.4 grade (tied-92nd of DL to play 80 or more pass-rushing snaps). He has 15 pressures on the season (1 hit and 14 hurries), which is tied for the 122nd-best mark. His 10.1% win rate is 109th of defensive linemen who meet the threshold mentioned above. The worst is also Yannick Ngakoue who sports a 46.3 grade from PFF (229th), 4.6% win rate (200th) and 27 pressures on the season (tied-54th).
On the backend, Jaylon Johnson has been the better of the corners with an 83.7 grade from PFF (6th out of all the corners to play at least 100 coverage snaps so far this season), allowing a 51.6% completion rate (14th) for 8.8 yards per reception (15th), while also making 2 PBUs (tied-65th). Rookie (and personal draft crush of mine) Tyrique Stevenson is the Bears' lowest-graded corner with a 44.8 so far this season (113th). He has allowed a 72.2% completion rate (97th) and 9.9 yards per reception (tied-32nd) while making 7 PBUs (tied-4th).
At safety, veteran Eddie Jackson has been the leader with a 73.4 coverage grade (17th of safeties who have played more than 93 coverage snaps), allowing exactly 50% of targets his way to be completed (tied-8th) for 8.7 yards per reception (19th). He also has made 1 PBU (tied-45th). In the linebacker room, Jack Sanborn has been the best of the Bears but even then he has been just above average with a 60.8 grade (44th of linebackers to have played more than 100 coverage snaps), allowing a 91.7% completion rate (tied-74th), 10.0 yards per reception (51st) while making 1 PBU (tied-30th).
As I outlined on the preview podcast yesterday, I can see us having our way with this defence no matter what play we call as we just have too much talent in our skills positions and too good an offensive line for the Bears' defence to be able to dictate terms to us. Both of our backs are capable of running all kinds of run plays as well as catching the ball out of the backfield, and our receivers can run block, catch the ball and run decoys. We should be putting points down on this Bears' defence like a judge scoring a boxing match.
For once, the Bears are having a decent year at kicker. Cairo Santos has hit all but one of his extra points and has made all but one of his field goals, which was missed between 40 and 49 yards, earning himself a 77.2 kicking grade from PFF. He has also earned an 83.5 grade on kickoffs, with just under one-fifth of his kickoffs being returned for an average of 17.4 yards, average, setting up the opposition on the 26-yard line on average. His kickoffs average 4.03 seconds of hang time. All of his non-returned kicks went for touchbacks.
The same can't be said for their punting. Trenton Gill has averaged 45.7 yards gross per punt, and only 36.7 yards net, with 4.35 seconds of hangtime average; earning him a grade of 63.3 from PFF. 12 of his 37 punts have landed inside the opposition 20 and 54.1% of his punts have been returned. Of the punts of Gill's that have not been returned, 2 went for touchbacks, 3 went out of bounds, six were fair-caught and six were downed by the Bears.
In the return game, former Bengal Trent Taylor is the leader. He has a 66.9 grade on his 23 punt return attempts, on which he only returned 9. On kickoffs, Tyler Scott is the leader in opportunities with 5 attempts and a 60.7 grade.
Hot Take: The Lions' defence bounces back after the down(-ish) performance against the Chargers by getting at least five sacks and three turnovers on the day.
Score Prediction: This game shouldn't be close. I can see Chicago scoring some garbage time points, but this game should be wrapped up by halftime. Beatdown required and kinda expected.
Detroit Lions 34, Chicago Bears 14
How do you think the game will go? Will our Lions subject the Bears to even more misery, or will Fields pull something out of his rear to take an unlikely win against us? Who do you think will be the stat leaders, and what will the final score be?
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