Audibles From the Long Snapper: Statistics, Barnwell on “That Play” & Tasering Wives

| November 7th, 2013



Some guy named Pete who has been anointed over at PFF Tweeted the following:

Shea McClellin: 2nd-worst @PFF grade of any 4-3 DE in Wk 9. But 2 loud sacks, so naturally NFC Defensive Player of the Week.

PFF attempts to qualify the performance of a player over the course of an entire game and thus weighs a run stop on 2nd and 3 in the first quarter equally to a run stop on 3rd and 1 with the game on the line in the fourth quarter. This is essentially what the baseball metrics folks do. They believe players play to their numbers.

But football is a situational sport. If your analytics tell you Shea McClellin played poorly Monday night, you have to acknowledge in the text of that piece the limitations of your analytics.

I responded via Twitter:

Only @PFF can decide 3 sack performance – 2 in pivotal moments – is overrated because a DE struggles vs run. They don’t weigh situations.

Sacking QB on pivotal third down in 4th quarter to win game IS MORE IMPORTANT than run support throughout second quarter. That’s the sport.

Shea McClellin sacked best QB in football and knocked him out of the game. Call it brutal. Call it crass. It won the game. And it was clean.

For the entirety of the NFL, all defensive coordinators have wanted to do is knock the opposing starter out. Bears did it. That’s football.

McClellin was named Defensive Player of the Week for a reason: no defensive player in the sport had a greater impact on the game. He can struggle in the run game all he wants if that’s going to continue.


Where do the Chicago Bears stack up after playing their eighth game of the season? Glad you asked. We know Forte, Marshall, Jeffery and Cutler stack up well. Here are a few interesting tidbits aside from those.

  • OFFENSE: 10th in yards per game, 2nd in points per game (4th when defensive/specials points are removed), 13th in rushing yards per game, 14th in passing yard per game. WHAT DO WE KNOW? The offense is even better through eight games than any of us thought they would be.
  • DEFENSE: 26th in yard per game, 29th in points per game (a stat they’ve been top 10 in for years), 29th in rushing yards per game, 23rd in passing yards per game. WHAT DO WE KNOW? This unit is not good. The key to the Bears defense moving forward will be the offense getting a lead forcing the opponent to abandon the run game.
  • Why are the Bears a winning team? Because they are +8 in turnover differential through eight games. Only Dallas is ahead of them.
  • Adam Podlesh has only 8 punts dropped inside the opposing team’s 20 yard line. No team in the league has fewer.
  • Through his six quarters, Josh McCown has a 100.2 Quarterback Rating. That would put him fifth in the NFL. (It doesn’t mean anything but McCown is averaging over 79 yards per quarter through six quarters. That’s a 5,000 yard season.)

  • Devin Hester is 5th in kickoff average and 5th in punt return average…but no, he’s done.


Bill Barnwell of Grantland is one of the new age NFL writers who subscribes to the metrics/numbers of a sport that consistently operates contrary to those metrics/numbers. NFL football is not baseball. Players don’t “play to their numbers”. And that is why I disagree strongly with the following premise:

Let’s talk about what Chicago did with the game on the line, because it was certainly the most daring decision a coach made this week. Holding on to a 24-20 lead on the road at Lambeau, the Bears were facing a fourth-and-1 on their own 32-yard line with 7:50 left to go. They looked likely to punt, called timeout, and then Marc Trestman basically dared me to name the positive ledger of this column after him by going for it. He got just about the best outcome imaginable. Matt Forte was briefly hung up in the backfield before converting, and the Bears proceeded to take seven more minutes off the clock over the remainder of the drive before kicking a field goal to take a seven-point lead. It’s fair to say that Trestman’s decision ended up closing out the game for Chicago.

As you might suspect, just about every coach in the league would punt in that situation. Even Ron Rivera would hand over the reins of the riverboat to Trestman there. It’s a freakishly rare occurrence. I tried to find plays like it, but since 1999, there have only been three plays when a team with a lead of eight points or fewer in the fourth quarter went for it on fourth down inside its own 40-yard line, as the Bears did. (There are others on Pro-Football-Reference.com, but they were either on the final plays of games, elaborate safety routines, or fake punts.) You’ll remember one: It was the pass from Tom Brady to Kevin Faulk on fourth-and-2 against the Colts in 2009 that came up just short, eventually leading to a Colts win. The other two were a Marion Barber run from 2008 and a Clinton Portis carry in 2002, each of which moved the chains. So it’s rare. But was it right?

Advanced NFL Stats likely doesn’t think so. Its fourth-down calculator suggests the Bears only should have gone for it if their chances of converting were higher than 71 percent, using their Win Expectancy framework. That would be better than the Panthers in short yardage, and historically, Forte has been one of the worst backs in the league near the goal line and in short yardage. Chicago improved its offensive line this offseason, but it was still 21st in power run success percentage before this game.

Furthermore, the averages used by Advanced NFL Stats also don’t factor in that the Bears weren’t playing an average offense. The post–Aaron Rodgers Packers had enjoyed great success running the ball against the Bears, but Wallace had struggled to create plays in the passing game, something he would have to do during a two-minute drill to win the game.

I’m inclined to agree with the numbers here and suggest that going for it wasn’t the right choice for the Bears. They’re not a great short-yardage team, they were facing a middling offense, and the percentages just weren’t in their favor. I admire Trestman’s sheer gutsiness in making the move, and I’m happy he was rewarded for that aggressiveness with a favorable outcome, but I don’t think that play makes sense given the percentages.

To read my view of the call, which I believe is a transcendent moment for the Bears organization, CLICK HERE.


From NBC Chicago and presented without comment:

The rivalry between Chicago and Green Bay rose to a new level after a south suburban Bears fan used a Taser on his Packers fan wife when she “lost a bet” following the Bears win Monday, according to police.

John M. Grant, 42, of Tinley Park, and his wife, watched the Bears beat the Packers Monday at Sidelines Tap in Mayville, Wis., where he told police he and his wife made a bet that he could use a Taser on her if the Bears won, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dodge County, Wis.

Grant’s wife claims her husband used the Taser “two times on her buttocks” while the two were in an alley smoking cigarettes outside of the bar.

“Hell ya it hurt,” she said, according to police.

The report states the wife claims she did not give consent for anyone to use a Taser, but cell phone footage of the incident shows her “laughing and it seemed apparent that Ms. Grant had consented,” the arresting officer wrote in the complaint.

Yep. No comment.


(1) Remember to save the date for Sunday night, December 8th. Double Door. Wicker Park. DaBearsBlog joins Otis Wilson and his charitable association for a charitable fundraiser, Mike Ditka lookalike contest. For more information, CLICK HERE.

(2) I have almost finished an advanced copy of Rich Cohen’s Monsters: The 1985 Chicago Bears and the Wild Heart of Football. I’ll have Rich on the podcast to discuss this remarkable book next week.

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