The Truth Behind the Lies

Benjamin Disraeli once said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”

Bearing that in mind, Ian Rapoport at tweets this little “statistical” tidbit:

A later tweet from Rapoport corrected the mistake. Rogers had actually graded at -0.8.  OK, noted.

Many people wonder why, given ridiculous statistics like this, fans and media continue to quote Pro Football Focus. The reason is pretty obvious – they’re the only game in town.

Anyone who writes an opinon about anything knows that opinion will be stronger if they can back it up with something that is, theoretically, objective. Quoting statistics from PFF seems to be one way to do that. The reality is, of course, that PFF’s grades are just as subjective as anything you or I might say based upon our own observations. PFF’s observations are, of course, one more factor to consider. But they shouldn’t carry too much weight. Certainly not as much as fans and media tend to give them.

Nevertheless, don’t expect a decrease in the number of people quoting ridiculous player ratings from them any time soon. Until someone comes along who can offer and alternative, PFF is what you get.

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The Once and Future Offense

Rich Campbell at the Chicago Tribune quotes head coach John Fox on the conservative approach that the Bears took on offense on Sunday:

“‘We need to generate more than zero points to win games,’ Fox said Monday.”

“Asked Monday whether [Jimmy] Clausen earned another start, Fox would not address him specifically.

“‘I didn’t think our whole football team played well enough, obviously, to win the football game,’ he said. ‘I think in a pass-fail system, nobody’s totally pleased. But I don’t think it came down to one guy in that game.'”

The Bears took a ball control, run-first approach to the Seahawks game, one that’s been heavily criticized in some places the media. Many feel that it expressed a “Let’s not lose by too much” attitude rather than “Let’s go out and win”. Clausen has also taken a lot of criticism and most seem to feel that quarterback Jay Cutler would have done significantly better.

The truth is that offensive coordinator Adam Gase put together the only possible game plan that he could under the circumstances. And it probably wouldn’t have changed much even if Cutler had been able to play. This isn’t a defense of Clausen – he missed some throws that he absolutely had to make to give the Bears a better chance on Sunday. But the truth is that he was under siege every time he dropped back to throw and his only real receiver was Eddie Royal, a slot receiver stuck in a misfit role on the outside. Josh Bellamy isn’t talented enough and Marquess Wilson has been worse than a mediocrity who simply can’t get open. No quarterback on the Bears roster was going to succeed throwing the ball under those conditions. There just wasn’t anyone to throw the ball to.

The Bears game plan was to run the ball. Yes, with no points in the first half, you could argue that it wasn’t working. But the benefits of sticking to the run often come in the second half as you wear the defense down. The Bears never got a chance to show that could happen. Poor special teams play put them down by 13 points one play into the second half, a huge deficit in a game like this. Then poor discipline resulted in too many penalties that put the offense into a hole that you can’t run out of. The offense couldn’t hold the ball and the Bears defense was the one to wear down.

The Bears had to play a nearly perfect game to have a chance to win Sunday. They are going to have to do so for good parts of the rest of the season. They’ll get Alshon Jeffery back soon and perhaps Cutler will be back to give them an extra run threat. You might seen more passes to tight ends and the Bears might line up Matt Forte more as a receiver to do more through the air. But what you saw on Sunday is basically what you get with this team. – a heavy, heavy dose of Forte on the ground and a cloud of dust. And under the circumstances I just can’t find it in myself to be too critical of that plan. The team is what it is.

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Charles Leno Could Yet Be a Bears Building Block

charles-leno-nfl-detroit-lions-chicago-bears-850x560A day after a 26-0 wipe out of the Bears by the Seattle Seahawks, the fashionable thing is to bash the team for a conservative offensive effort and poor special teams play. So, of course, I’m not going to do that.

Instead, I’ll be taking a look at the bright side of this loss. Kind of.

The Bears waited until the first week of the season to move right guard Kyle Long to right tackle. He hasn’t played well there in three games but he’s getting better. He’s certainly athletic enough to play the position. Nevertheless, more and more, I’m questioning that move.

As pointed out multiple times in this space and in others, moving Long to tackle only moved the problem along the offensive line to a new spot. Enter Vlad Ducasse as the right guard. Ducasse has been miserable with multiple pre-snap penalties and mediocre play. You might say that it’s high time that Patrick Omameh got some snaps but I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’ll be much better. Recall that Omameh wasn’t good enough to make the Tampa Bay roster and the Buccaneers have a miserable offensive line.

If that were the only factor in this situation, I’d say that the Bears broke even on the move – or will eventually break even when Long develops and is up to snuff. But in moving Long to tackle, the Bears gave up on Charles Leno as a potential starter. Leno blew his short chance with the Bears at right tackle in the preseason, playing every bit as bad as Ducasse. But the second year player is still relatively young and he’s got the athletic gifts to play the position. You had to wonder whether the Bears pulled the plug on him a bit too quickly.

That thought came back forcibly yesterday in the fourth quarter when Leno entered the game at left tackle in place of an ailing Jermon Bushrod, who had sustained a concussion. Leno was a bright spot in the loss to the Seahawks, seeing some quality snaps and coming out looking good in admittedly limited action.

If the Bushrod concussion lingers, it’s likely that Leno will see extended playing time. If he continues to play as well as he did yesterday, it’s worth wondering whether moving Long to guard right before the season started was a panic move that’s not going to serve the team well in the end. That is further exacerbated by the thought that Tayo Fabuluje, though very raw, is also very talented with excellent feet for such an enormous man at 6’6″, 342 pounds. If he develops, suddenly the Bears have a glut at offensive tackle.

That’s a nice problem to have. But I’d rather have solid offensive line across the board with a good right guard. That’s not likely to happen with the roster currently configured the way that it is.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks | Leave a comment

Quick Game Comments: Chicago at Seattle 9/27/15


  1. The Bears came out ready to run with triple tight ends on the first possession. They packed into tight formations and made no secret of what they were doing. Of course, the Seahawks were expecting that and were ready for it. This game was always going to be about keeping the Seattle offense off the field and resting the Bears defense as much as possible.
  2. Matt Forte ran well with very good vision. He was slipping well through small cracks in the offensive line.
  3. The Seahawks rushed the passer well this game. Something that, once again, wasn’t unexpected with the crowd noise and given that the Bears were only passing in obvious situations. The Seahawks were pinning their ears back and going after Jimmy Clausen. The Bears offensive line had a lot of trouble with the blitz.
  4. Clausen didn’t respond well to the pressure today. He took a lot of hits and didn’t make the throws that he had to when he did. They needed him at his best and he wasn’t accurate enough. Of course, once they fell behind too far in the fourth quarter and had to throw, it was a disaster.
  5. I was darned impressed with the blocking of Martellus Bennett at tight end. Truth be told there were some good demonstrations of some good fundamentals up front all game.
  6. The Bears ask their linemen to make some tough blocks on the back side in the run game. Seattle was really taking advantage of that with their quickness as guys occasionally came through the line unblocked.
  7. Jaquizz Rogers got the carries instead of Jeremy Langford in the first half this game. trying to keep everyone happy, I guess.


  1. The Seahawks wasted no time throwing the ball to Jimmy Graham on the first play. Things haven’t been going well for Graham and by that standard he had a decent game.
  2. The Bears got plenty of pressure on Russell Wilson. The Seahawks have struggled all season on the offensive line and the Bears took advantage. Jarvis Jenkins really came alive. Pernell McPhee was worth every penny. The team got their first sacks of the season.
  3. The run defense wasn’t bad until the offense started leaving them out on the field in the second half. then they simply wore down.
  4. The inside linebackers once again had a poor game. They weren’t making plays, were fooled by play action far too often and did a poor job in coverage. Frankly, I was surprised that they weren’t burned more than they were. Probably teams are so busy taking advantage of the lack of speed in the defensive backfield that they haven’t had to pick on them. Something has to be done there.
  5. I was impressed by the way that the Bears tackled today. They showed some good fundamentals.
  6. The Bears did a good job of keeping Wilson from burning them too badly with his mobility. It was a good pass rush and though there were holes, there was some discipline to it.
  7. Marshawn Lynch ran like his usual physical self once he got himself on to the field after having some hamstring trouble. However, he didn’t come back for the second half so it must have been pretty problematic.
  8. I don’t really understand the Seattle game plan. Arizona killed the Bears with deep passing last week as the burned the Bears defensive backs continually. Yet the Seahawks went to a ball control game that never called for a deep pass on first down. Did the Seahawks not watch any film last week? Eventually they started to take advantage of the mismatches but it took them almost a half to adjust.
  9. I was totally baffled by the defense at the end of the first half that put eight men in the end zone. It was obvious that there was time for at least three plays. I think that someone forgot that Seattle still had two timeouts.


  1. Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, and Tracy Wolfson did a nice job. You could almost feel Simms willing the Bears to make this a good game and he was pretty kind to them. I think he, like the rest of us, recognized that the Bears were out classed and he wanted to see a good effort by the underdogs rewarded.
  2. Clever fake on a punt return in the first quarter by the Seattle return team. Richard Sherman took the ball all by himself on the left as returner Tyler Lockett ran to the right. Shouldn’t the punt coverage team know what direction the kick is supposed to go? There was also more trouble on kick coverage as Lockett opened the second half with a 108 yard touchdown return.
  3. The Bears had to be virtually penalty free to have a chance in this game. They were far from it. Every penalty took away an opportunity to concentrate on the run game and put the game into the hands of Jimmy Clausen and a helpless offensive line protecting him. Vlad Ducasse had yet another pre-snap penalty. Right guard is a serious issue. If the Bears were going to put up with this kind of play, more and more I’m wondering whether they wouldn’t have been better off developing Charles Leno – who saw time at left tackle with Jermon Bushrod out with a concussion.
  4. Horrible call by the referee on a Bears punt in the second quarter. The ball was absolutely touched by a Seattle player and recovered in bounds.
  5. Drops weren’t really a factor. Josh Bellamy dropped one in the second quarter on a third down that probably would have been short of the marker anyway.
  6. Turnovers weren’t an issue today.
  7. I was a little surprised by the decision not to go for it on 4th and less than a yard near mid-field late in the third quarter and down by 20 point. John Fox is a defensive head coach and I guess he’d always rather put the game in the hands of his defense.
  8. To all of you who have been calling for the Bears to trade Matt Forte for the last three years, you can kiss my [donkey].
  9. Every fan, Chicago or not, knew that the Bears had zero chance in this game. It was just a question of whether they could keep it respectable. To their credit, the Bears looked like a professional defense most of the time and I was encouraged by the play of several defenders, especially Pernell McPhee, and by the run blocking along the offensive line when the whole stadium knew that was what the Bears had to do. It was a good, if somewhat obvious, ball control game plan offensively. The team simply had to be more disciplined to execute it.


Posted in Chicago Bears, Game Comments, Seattle Seahawks | Leave a comment

Fales or Clausen? The Debate Continues.

Adam Jahns at the Chicago Sun-Times doesn’t have a problem with starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen this week but believes that the Bears eventually should get a good look at back up David Fales.

“The difference is that Clausen, who’s 28 and in his sixth season, isn’t a long-term solution for when the Bears finally move on from Cutler. If Clausen flounders in Seattle and Cutler remains out, the Bears should start Fales in Week 4 against the Oakland Raiders at Soldier Field.

“The Bears could be looking at another top-10 pick, possibly in the top five, and there will be quarterbacks to consider, namely Cal’s Jared Goff and Michigan State’s Connor Cook. They need to know what Fales can do.”

Clausen might very well struggle against the Seahawks. Jay Cutler probably would have too, for that matter. In fact, in his case I’d call it highly likely. It’s exactly the kind of game he saves his worst performances for. But that wouldn’t necessarily make either of them a worse option than Fales against the Raiders.

Do the Bears start David Fales (left) or Jimmy Clausen (right)?

Do the Bears start David Fales (left) or Jimmy Clausen (right)?

I think it’s worth re-iterating that a lot depends upon what the organization thinks of Fales. Former general manager Phil Emery drafted Fales as someone he thought would develop into “a good back up”. If the current regime thinks the same, there’s no reason to throw in the towel on the season by playing him this early. It’s pretty hard to develop good talent elsewhere when you don’t have a solid starting quarterback.

On the other hand, if the current staff thinks Fales has the potential to be a starter, it’s a totally different story. Then you put him in, not just in game four, but in game three today. That looks unlikely to happen.

In any case, this is definitely a situation to keep an eye on. As long as Fales sits the bench with Cutler out, the conclusion has to be that the staff doesn’t have the confidence in him that should be there for a player in his second year with a high ceiling.

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Connor Cook Is a Draft Prospect You Should Know

Most Bears fans will be looking for the team to draft a potential starting quarterback next year, potentially with a pretty high draft pick. Recent discussions amongst friends left me in the mood to seek out and give some preliminary evaluation on a couple of good quarterback prospects. We’ll start with Connor Cook (below).  This particular evaluation is based upon his game against Central Michigan only so take it with a grain of salt.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Connor Cook

Connor Cook is currently rated the second best quarterback in the 2016 NFL draft class and the ninth best prospect overall by He’s got good size at 6 ft 4 in, 220 lb.

Though it’s not exactly a pro style offense, Cook’s Michigan State team does at least huddle up and Cook does call plays. Most of the passing down snaps are taken from the shotgun but he does occasionally get under center, usually in running situations. Given that Michigan St. felt that they could run on their opponent Saturday, Central Michigan, that mean he was under center a lot. His footwork was fine and he’s definitely a pocket passer.

Cook has a reasonably quick release and he’s got at least average to above average professional grade arm strength. His ball placement isn’t a strength and his accuracy left a lot to be desired in this game. He missed some open throws over 12 yards or so. Nevertheless he can and did hit receivers on the run. Not surprisingly, he’s particularly prone to be inaccurate under pressure.

Other than that it was hard to evaluate how Cook handled the pass rush just because the Michigan State offensive line is so good that he rarely saw pressure. When he did, he stood well in the pocket and does step up. Otherwise he didn’t move around much within the pocket. His mechanics definitely seemed to break down when the pocket got muddy. Further evaluation will have to wait until the second ranked Spartans play a better team.

Finally, Cook isn’t being asked to throw with anticipation much but he did hit tight end Josiah Price for a touchdown midway through the second quarter right as he came out of his break which offers some hope in this area.

Its only one game but based upon what I saw on Saturday, I wouldn’t rate Cook as no more than a late second round prospect. He’s got some physical tools and a nice, quick release but his accuracy and his movement in the pocket left me kind of cold on him. Nevertheless it will be worth keeping a closer eye on him as the year goes by.

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Detroit Lions Are Down but Far From Out

Eric-EbronDave Birkett at the Detroit Free Press comments upon the improvement of tight end Eric Ebron this year:

“Ebron has been a revelation in the Lions’ offense through two games, leading the team with two touchdowns and ranking third behind Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate with nine catches for 96 yards.”

“‘(He’s) improved,’ Lions coach Jim Caldwell said. ‘The last two weeks, he’s caught the ball pretty well and made some plays for us. So I think he’s — his arrow of improvement is heading in the right direction.'”

Ebron is looking to improve the numbers he put up in last year’s disappointing rookie season — 25 catches for 248 yards.  He’s well on his way to doing that and his emergence is just one reason why the Lions offense should be better than last year’s version.

The Lions are 0-2 and a lot of people are jumping ship on them after a very encouraging preseason. But I’m not. The Lions have four big weapons on offense in Ebron, Johnson, Tate and Ameer Abdullah. The Lion defense certainly misses Ndamukong Suh and they’ve under-performed without him.  But they’ve been without linebacker DeAndrey Levy, who is doubtful again this week but his return will eventually give that defense a boost..

The Lions lost to the Vikings last week but the game was in Minnesota. I don’t think that they should be counted out yet and I can’t get past the feeling that they are going to make some noise in the NFC North before it’s all over.

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Redskins Potential Once Again Limited with No Answers at the Quarterback Position

Conor Orr has the unenviable task of writing up a blog post on the Redskins – Giants game for

“Where do we begin with Kirk Cousins? Perhaps it was the two times he missed Jordan Reed wide open in the back of the end zone. Maybe it was him getting blanked on play-action passes (and clearly missing two fake handoffs altogether), leading to two picks. Cousins has now turned the ball over 29 times over his last 17 games, this despite a fine, working offensive line and a budding 6-foot-2, 230-pound star at running back. In eight of his 17 career games, he has two or more picks. Would we be stunned to see Colt McCoy next week?”

This was a bad game all around but by far the biggest take away for me was that Kirk Cousins (below) doesn’t have it as a quarterback. Not only did he turn the ball over, but he was incredibly inaccurate with his passes, making receivers reach behind to grab the ball constantly. He was lucky that there were not more drops then there were.

 (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Cousins’ shaky play after the first interception told me all I needed to know about him. Like Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, he’s mentally weak. Unlike Cutler he also has physical limitations in that he has a weak arm and limited mobility.

No, I would not be at all surprised to see Colt McCoy start next week (Redskins head coach Jay Gruden says that he wont). But McCoy’s not the answer either or he’d have been starting before now.

I was one of those who thought that the Redskins were pulling out of the decade long slump with some good play against the Dolphins and the Rams prior to this game. But in the end, given that Robert Griffin III has apparently forgotten how to play quarterback, I think the Redskins are once again looking for someone who can sling the ball. As long as that’s the case, it’s going to put a ceiling on how far they can go.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, St. Louis Rams, Washington Redskins | Leave a comment

Quick Comments from Thursday Night’s Game

    • The Giants had a hard time rushing Kirk Cousins. They obviously are missing Jean Pierre-Paul.
    • I was surprised to see Washington come out spreading the field instead of playing to their strength with the run. They went to the running game afterwards and it looks to me like they just wanted to come out and soften up the defense by putting the pass into their minds first.
    • On a related note, Cousins didn’t impress me too much tonight. His accuracy left a lot to be desired. I didn’t see anything that convinced me that the right thing to do wasn’t to crowd the line, blitz and stop the run. That would have solved a lot of the Giants’ problems. Indeed, they started bringing more pressure late in the second quarter.
    • Honestly, I can’t imagine what runs through Cousins’ mind sometimes. He made some terrible decisions and the Giants did a very good job of taking advantage of those opportunities. Unfortunately, if you’re a Redskins fan, this is who Cousins is.
    • Washington did a reasonable job of winning the line of scrimmage against the run in the first half but they had a great deal of trouble pressuring Eli Manning. I was therefore surprised when the Giants came out in the second half and started pounding the ball. I was further surprised by the success that they had doing it. I’m not sure what changed but suddenly their offensive line was dominating the line of scrimmage.
    • Tweet of the night:

Posted in New York Giants, Washington Redskins | Leave a comment

Should the Bears Have Signed James Jones? Only if Aaron Rogers Came with Him.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers another question:

“Why didn’t the Bears claim James Jones off waivers before the Packers grabbed him?… Seem[s] Jones was much better than what the Bears had on their roster. — Greg M., Hayward, Wis.

“Jones was a vested veteran when the New York Giants terminated his contract and that made him a free agent, eligible to sign with any team he wanted. I am guessing GM Jerry Reese and coach Tom Coughlin regret that decision right now. New York released wide receiver Preston Parker earlier this week after five drops in two games. But this was not a situation where the Bears could have placed a claim for Jones. Even if the Bears were interested in Jones, why would he sign with them when he could return to a team and offense he knows to play with arguably the best quarterback in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers?”

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Exactly. And it worth asking one further question – “How good would Jones (left) be without Rogers?”

Two teams couldn’t find room for Rogers on their roster – the Oakland Raiders and the New York Giants. Two quarterbacks, one an up and comer in Derek Carr and the other a veteran Super Bowl quarterback in Eli Manning, couldn’t find a way to get Jones the ball. What hope would he have had with Bears quarterback Jay Cutler?

The guess here is that only Rogers could have possibly made Jones as good as he’s been early in the season and its a graphic demonstration of how important he is to that team. How many of their receivers could succeed elsewhere? My guess is that the answer might be “not many”. I haven’t seen one yet who left in the Rogers era and made it anywhere else.

Posted in Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, New York Giants, Oakland Raiders | Leave a comment