How Does the NFL’s Increased Salary Cap Affect Chicago? Plus, NFL Scouting Combine Rumors

| February 29th, 2024

The latest episode of Bear With Us is out — give it a listen below!

In it, we talk through:

  • The effects of the 2024 NFL Salary Cap’s ~$13 Million rise over expectations
  • What the NFL Scouting Combine’s rumor mill does (and doesn’t) mean for the Bears
  • Takeaways from Ryan Poles’ Combine press conference
  • Comparing & contrasting Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Justin Fields, and the rest of the Bears’ QB options
  • Which defenders we’re most excited to see run, jump, and drill in this weekend’s events
  • And much, much more

Your Turn: Who are you excited to watch in this weekend’s drills?

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Rumor Roundup: Things Are Heating Up At The Combine

| February 28th, 2024

Jeff had some takeaways after today’s press conferences from Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus:

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Reviewing The Tape: Drake Maye & Caleb Williams

| February 27th, 2024

A few months ago I walked through Caleb Williams’ Notre Dame game & Drake Maye’s Georgia Tech game — it’s a great stream if you’re looking for a review of the presumed top 2 QBs in the 2024 NFL Draft Class.

I’m working on a few draft breakdowns this week, so we’ll be back with more content tomorrow. In the meantime, check this out if you missed it.

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All Kinds of Time: Caleb Williams, Justin Fields, and the Importance of Time To Throw

| February 26th, 2024

I’m happy to host this piece by Kyle Morris, a football statistician and a personal friend of mine, as he explores the differences between Caleb Williams, Justin Fields, Drake Maye, and how Time To Throw affects each Quarterback’s play on the football field.

If you’re a football fan who loves data, this is the article for you. If you aren’t a football fan who loves data, this article is still well worth your time — the insights held within it are core in discussing the ever-raging Bears’ QB debate, and Kyle does a great job numerically illustrating what I think the tape shows about each QB mentioned.

Kyle also has a podcast, which I’ll link right here. Enjoy the article, and let me know what you think in the comments below.

For the last six years I have attempted to determine how to best evaluate and project college quarterbacks to the NFL using advanced analytics.

For decades most NFL evaluators have adopted a fairly dismissive attitude toward college statistics, and for understandable reasons. Tim Tebow’s sparkling 66% college completion rate hid what became one of the NFL’s least accurate passers in recent memory. Josh Allen’s pedestrian numbers made him an enemy of most box score scouts, but actual scouts crowed about Allen’s physical tools. Even then, Josh is an outlier — he is a rare example of the NFL’s coaches improving a poor college passer, and the graveyard of prospects like Jake Locker and Kyle Boller demonstrate just how rare a story like that can be.

Ignoring a prospect’s college production carries as much (or more) risk as box score scouting. I’ve therefore spent a great deal of time trying to compile as many statistics as I can on every available college QB prospect, comparing them to each other, comparing them to their historical peers, figuring out what metrics might actually predict NFL success or failure, and which ones are just noise. Each year I look at what I got right or wrong, and I peel the layers back even further, trying to find out what I might have missed.

This leads me to today’s topic: Justin Fields, Caleb Williams, and the importance of Time To Throw.

If you’re unfamiliar with Time to Throw as a statistic, it’s pretty basic: it’s how much time after the snap a quarterback takes, on average, to throw the football. As basic this sounds, the factors that actually go into time to throw can be somewhat complicated — is a guy taking forever because he can’t read the defense and process information quickly? Is he getting rid of the ball too quickly, passing up options down the field and checking down immediately to avoid getting hit, thus passing up big plays in the process? Or is he doing the opposite of that and passing up wide open outlet throws (thus taking an extra second) to try and force an ill-advised throw downfield?

Given all this, how do we determine what factors into each individual quarterback’s time to throw?

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We Are Tracking Instagram Follows Now

| February 20th, 2024

We have hit the point of the offseason where we are tracking whether the Chicago Bears’ current QB follows the team on his Instagram account. Nothing epitomizes the fanbase’s current state of limbo quite like this becoming a story last night.

I understand why it blew up — us fans will chase any crumb of insight into the 2024 Bears’ QB plan — but the speculation feels like a major reach to me. We aren’t long removed from Kyler Murray unfollowing the Arizona Cardinals (admittedly during a contract dispute) before re-signing with the team, but beyond that we’ve had much stronger intel recently tell us that Fields is likely on the move.

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Shane Waldron’s Offense Is A Fun One

| February 15th, 2024

If Luke Getsy’s offense was like a finely-tuned orchestra, with every aspect of each play meticulously planned & each game script dependent on all 11 offensive players consistently doing their jobs, Shane Waldron’s offense is more like a jazz band.

“Here’s a general idea of what you’re doing, but at the end of the day go be a football player.”

It’s a fun pivot towards an offensive coordinator who empowers his best players to be field-tilters & difference-makers, but don’t let the idea of simplicity fool you — Waldron uses concepts like motion & formation shifts to his players’ advantage well. Below I walk you through a nice example of Waldron baiting out Cincinnati’s 3-by-1 defensive check before then motioning out of that 3-by-1 and forcing plenty of defensive communication, which both allows the Seahawks to identify a key Bengals’ check early in the game while still exploiting the defense and picking up a first down.

It’s a pretty design. Give it a look.

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Recapping Super Bowl & Chicago’s Latest QB Rumors

| February 13th, 2024

Work’s got me twisted up lately, but Nick & I managed to squeeze in a Bear With Us episode last night that focused on the Super Bowl & the latest in Bears rumors. Check it out.

Also, I wrote one of my patented extremely long tweets yesterday — I know Justin Fields is an emotional topic for many, and I wanted to write an olive branch.

It’s not perfectly written, but the heart behind it is authentic — Justin has done nothing to deserve the overbearing critiques he’s getting from many. Frankly, I think plenty of his critics are taking things too far. He’s been nothing but a hardworking representative of the Chicago Bears and we love him for that, even if I believe it’s best that Fields and the Bears part ways this offseason.

From the moment he was drafted, Justin Fields was labeled ‘The Prince That Had Been Promised” by many (including myself). He was supposed to be the franchise savior, Ryan Pace’s bold new direction that would save the franchise from over a decade of organizational failure. He was the golden ticket that would overcome anything, including the impending rebuild that no one wanted to acknowledge — somehow, despite a roster dissolving around him, he would simply rise above it all and lead Chicago forward.

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