Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions. And mine.
In a column last week, you quoted [Bears haed coach] Matt Eberflus as saying it “creates more gaps in the running game when you have that lead back in there.” I wasn’t sure exactly what this meant. Why does having the extra player “create more gaps”? Don’t the players have to cover the same number of gaps regardless? Can you explain? — Tom S., Chicago
Let’s say, for example, the Bears run power or lead through the C gap. With a fullback on the field, the offense is getting an extra player to the second level and it creates another gap because now the defense needs two linebackers (or one and a safety) attacking the back. One has to hammer the back and the other has to spill the play. In essence, the fullback creates leverage advantages for the offense and a plus-one number through the gap leading to the second level. I hope that makes sense.
I thought about this and after a while I think I figured out exactly what Eberflus was talking about in terms of the scheme.
If you have three blockers on the right side of the offensive line (center, guard, tackle) you have three gaps, one to the right of each player (A, B, C). If you throw an extra blocker in the hole in the form of a full back, you have an extra gap.
Probably should’ve waited a day or two and thought about that one before writing it in.
- The Dolphins traded former Bear Adam Shaheen to the Texans for a sixth round pick. Via Charean Williams at profootballtalk.com.
- Adam Jahns at The Atheletic passess on information about linebacker Roquan Smith‘s trade request.
- Colleen Kane at the Chicago Tribune quotes offensive coordinator Luke Getsy on the way that he’s training the offensive players to execute his scheme.
- Patrick Finley at the Chicago Sun-Times talks about the Bears affinity for Equanimeous St. Brown.
One thing you immediately notice about the Dolphins if you follow them over any length of time is that they have a gift for getting value for players that are going to make the roster. This is just the latest in a long line of such transactions.
The Bears in contrast rarely get what fans think are good value for their players when they need to trade them. I’m not quite sure why but it could be that they simply don’t do a good enough job of selling them.
In any case it’s an area that I think we would all like to see improved.
Smith shared some harsh words about the Bears front office in his statement. The NFL Network reported that there are de-escalators included in the Bears’ offer.
“The deal sent to me is one that would be bad for myself, and for the entire LB market if I signed it,” Smith said. “I’ve been trying to get something done that’s fair since April, but their focus has been on trying to take advantage of me.”
There are a few things that struck me about this situation. First, they’re letting Smith get away with negotiating through the media. That was absolutely forbidden by former GM Ryan Pace who was following the lead of the GMs before him. When an agent tried to leak information to the media like this, Pace shut him down. Literally. As far as anyone can tell, he didn’t even talk to Allen Robinson‘s agent for months after he pulled such a stunt.
Poles handled this situation completely differently. He immediately called a press conference in answer to Smith’s public comments.
I’ve always liked the way that Bears handled these negotiations because I always thought that negotiating through the media was a bad thing. It will be interesting to see if this was a one time exception for a player who is negotiating his contract without an agent or if this is a new way of doing things in the front office. And I won’t be the only one watching. Agents throughout the league are probably very interested in this situation.
In any case, media commentary has very generally not really matched up to reality in this negotiation. Most media members find it much easier to criticize a large, almost faceless organization than a player that they would like to talk to every day. Personal relationships get in the way, as well.
The truth is that this trade request is a non-issue unless someone blows the Bears away with an offer. The Bears have all of the leveage here.
Smith’s ultimate option is to hold out until week 10 of the season when he would need to come back for his contract to toll for another year. That would mean giving up between 2/3 and 3/4 of his salary. I can’t imagine he’d do that. Not only that but in a year where the Bears aren’t really expected to compete for anything significant, how much would it really matter if Smith did sit out?
In addition, if a deal doesn’t get done before the season starts and Smith comes back and plays, which is a virtual certainty, then the Bears can franchise tag him in 2023.
The fact that Smith doens’t have an agent and is negotiating his own contract is really a problem here. First, as Jahns points out, Smith is undoubtedly hearing the Bears tell him things that he doesn’t want to hear. Their job is to negotiate his contract number down. That means being critical. When you do that to an agent, he serves as a buffer between the organization and the player. Without an agent, there is no buffer and negative things end up having to be said directly to him. That can not only affect the player emotionally, it could even translate to doubt on the field. No team wants to be faced with this situation.
Even more, there is the practical matter of just how much of th epractical business of negotiating that Smith can do himself. We don’t know this but let’s say that the offer from the Bears with the de-escalators was an initial offer. Has Smith submitted a counter-offer? Is he even capable of doing that? If not, what does he expect? That the Bears will just negotiate with themsleves?
This whole thing is a little bit of a mess. But, prersonally, I don’t lay that at the Bears door.
“This is a process, right? And we stress every single day that we’re a process-driven team, and our unit is the same way,” Getsy said. “And it’s all about making sure we get better every single day. Whether the focus is on getting better at our protection adjustments or our hot adjustments or throwing hot routes — whatever that adjustment is or whatever that emphasis of the day is, we just have to make sure we’re getting better at it.
I really liked this quote.
Football coaches are, when you break it down, teachers. And the best way to teach broad subjects is to break them down into their components and teach each component one at a time. Each one builds one upon another.
It sounds to me like that’s what Getsy he is doing. One day on protection adjustments. One day on throwing hot routes. Another day on another part of the offense.
It isn’t just a question of watching film seeing problems and then plugging holes every single day. If we’re all lucky, they’ll eventually get to that point. But for right now it’s about building the offense one block at a time. It’s nice to know that the coaches realize that.
Eberflus talked up Equanimeous St. Brown after a strong practice Wednesday, but it’s near-impossible to get excited about someone with 16 catches over the past three seasons. It’s still baffling that the Bears, so desperate for offensive playmakers, wouldn’t commit to [wide receiver Allen] Robinson under the Ryan Pace regime. The smartest offensive mind in the NFL, Sean McVay, had no trouble with the Super Bowl champion Rams giving him a three-year, $46.5 million deal.
It’s not really baffling. It’s fairly obvious that Pace didn’t see the dominant athleticism in Alan Robinson that he wanted in a number one wide receiver. He almost certainly also thought that wide receiver was a very replaceable position and that he could rapidly rebuild it with other players.
That doesn’t mean he was right. But given his history with the Bears and the facts of the matter, it wasn’t terribly surprising that he thought paying Robinson would be overpaying.
One Final Thought
The Bears win total is 6.5 — over or under?
Under. They’re not better than the Packers, 49ers, Bills, Eagles, Patriots, Cowboys, Dolphins or Vikings. That’s 10 losses right there — and they can’t run the table against the rest of their slate.
This win total in Vegas has intrigued me since it was first set. It does seem a little bit high. But it’s likely that the bookies are counting on fans pounding the under.
If we don’t think the Bears are very good in Chicago, imagine what fans in other cities think.
I’m not much of a gambler but I know one thing. Never bet against the bookies. If it looks like the bookies are trying to get you to pound the under, there’s usually a good reason for that. Something tells me that nationally and locally, people are underestimating the influence of a new coaching staff in Chicago.
I don’t usually gamble. But if I did, I’d bet the over here.