Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears Free Agency: Putting some Flex Tape on past mistakes. (But, in a good way.)

Three Part Series

NFL free agency has struck at the perfect time of year. Not that I sit around and watch random sports games 24/7, but thankfully NFL business offices are still operational, giving us some banter about and moves to dissect. If it isn’t obvious, it looks like the Bears are pushing most of their chips in for 2020, and frankly, why the hell not. We’ll delve deeper in part 2 Coach Matt Nagy and his new offensive coaches, and even more importantly, in part 3 on why GM Ryan Pace was forced to make these upgrades, partially because of poor first round selections that have unfortunately come home to roost.

Avoid Leonard Floyd. (Apparently)

The Bears actually burned a third rounder to trade up two picks in 2016 to grab him 9th overall. Given the huge responsibilities of being the edge setter for the run in a 3-4 defense, the Bears will be missing out. Simply put, playing opposite of a possible future Hall of Famer in Khalil Mack, Floyd did little to distinguish himself and play up to his draft position. Sacks aren’t the “be all end all” for a pass rusher, as pressures, knock downs, and even Tackles for Loss in the run game signify a much bigger impact, but even Floyd charted low in those categories.

One person that charted very well in QB pressure percentage and double team splits was the person they signed to replace him in Robert Quinn. You may recall Quinn as the guy that had a monster start to his career with the Rams opposite Kyle Longs older brother, Chris. He kind of fell off the radar in the middle of the decade with some injury shortened years, but found the fountain of youth with the Cowboys last year. Still only 30 after 9 years, the Bears figure they can get two real years off of him.

Betcha didn’t know their would be a chart.

This neat little chart I stole off of the Twitter denotes the effectiveness of NFL pass rushers, particularly those off the edge. The left to right axis, or X axis as I’m led to believe, shows what percent of the time these players were double teamed. The Y-xis per se, denotes how frequently they won against a pass blocker. the winning rate time is 2.5 seconds.

All you need to know for Quinn’s production versus Floyd from 2019 is this chart full of math above. Floyd is on the bottom left, meaning he didn’t get doubled a lot, which could mean O lines were too busy with Mack, or they simply didn’t deem him a threat. Quinn is located in the top right along with players like the brothers Bosa, DeMarcus LAwrence, and Jadaveon Clowney, because apparently they win a lot of their matchups. Those players are fantastic. Signing a guy at age 30 has risks, but Quinn should pay off, especially if Akiem Hicks is healthy, and his savagely strong hands and 340 pound body can collapse a pocket like a Quasar.

Really? It’s 2013?

NOW, to curiously flip the other side of the 30 plus year old coin, apparently it’s still 2013 in Ryan Pace’s mind, when Jimmy Graham was a monster in New Orleans, and Pace worked there. The guy has played with Brees, Rogers, and Wilson, three of arguably the best QB’s in the decade. Some will argue that he is slipping because of age obviously, while others will say the latter two QB’s and their offenses don’t hone in on or game plan around the tight end, and Graham is somewhere comfortably in the middle. He is a free agent for a reason, and sometimes that is not a good sign, but frankly will be better than anything the Bears attempted to roll out at Tight End last year. It’s a band aid move, and they are better in that spot. They didn’t overpay for a guy like Austin Hooper and it’s not Ben Braunecker running around either, so it is what it is.  

“I can be your hero, baby!”

The Bears are low on draft picks regardless because SOMEBODY likes to trade up for players because he has “conviction” in his selection. (this is why there is a part 3, so this isn’t 3700 words long). Because of some of Pace’s poor choices in Round 1 (while others later in the draft which have been real good finds, so it’s not all gloom and doom) someone has got to go out an run this offense. which brings us to MY MAN, Nick Foles.

Never in my life would have been excited to type that sentence. Before everyone jumps down a well, let’s play out this last portion like all of the grumpy naysayers who aren’t familiar with football beyond stats/what they see/what talking heads say. I’ll use italics to denote that weird lowercase/uppercase thing that gen Z people use to represent sarcasm, etc.

His stats were same as Trubisky last year? How is he any better?

Well, comparing a guy who who couldn’t read more than half the field on defense if it were highlighted, and that couldn’t beat out a current XFL QB in college, isn’t fair to precious Nick Foles. Trubisky is bad. Really bad. Many people have said this. People with eyeballs have said this, and they’re really great people. He processes game speed decisions like a frozen 2001 Desktop computer that needs to restart. If you’re still hoping Mitch will turn the tide, keep trying, because he will be riding someone’s bench the rest of his career, purely on the merits of his own athleticism, and not QB ability. Foles has won playoff games, and had bursts of competency that go beyond torching teams with bad pass defenses. (Mitch’s biggest passing games have been against dogshit pass defenses: Buccaneers in 2018, the Redskins and Lions in 2019. Look it up). Also, Foles had a rough year in Jacksonville, but why are we competently judging anybody as a player or coach that steps foot near that tire fire of an organization. No one has developed or gotten better wearing that goddamn teal.

They could have gotten anyone else.

They went for Foles because of his former coaches the Bears have on staff. We thought the coaching upgrades, which will be talked about part two were to help Trubisky, but how convenient is this? Many thought the coaching restructuring was done to bring as many solid minds around Trubisky, but frankly they may be too advanced for him. The advantage is current Bears QB coach John DeFelippo was Foles QB coach in 2017, and Foles was Nagy’s QB room for the Chiefs when Nagy was the OC there in 2016. Foles runs their stuff West coast hybrid offense, similar to what Eagles and Frank Reich of the Colts are doing, and others of that ilk that are part of that coaching tree.

Of course Foles had had so many coaches, because he is a journeyman…..

I would call Foles a journeyman in a sense, but that’s more a term for strictly backup QB’s, like if you’re last name is McKown. He has started 48 games, or three seasons worth, and has a fine TD to INT ratio to boot. He has not started continuously like say an Andy Dalton or Cam Newton, but again this was based on fit with the offense and familiarity with the coaching staff.  

*In your best older boomer mom voice: He is so expensive. That’s a lot just as a guy to bring in for competition with Trubisky.

Yep, any QB they wanted via trade would have an absurd price tag. Nagy knows exactly what Foles can and can’t do, and he’ll he can begin scripting what he wants to do right now.There is no obligation beyond 2020 for both guys, so they both may not be here. The Bears just need their offense to be functional. It’s also not the end all be all because Nagy needs to get his shit together, when it comes to game planning and managing calls, and the O line needs some semblance of functionality. The Bears are gonna ride this mostly likely really good defense and hope for some 2018 crazy turnover forcing action, and hope the offense gets from awful to average.