Dissecting a Drive: Luke Getsy Versus the Minnesota Vikings

| July 21st, 2023

Happy Friday everybody!

Like most football fans, I’ve always been enthralled by the concept of play-calling — the idea that one man pulls the strings behind the actions of 11 superathletes and that, at least in the eyes of many, the very fate of each football game rests on his shoulders and his matchup with the play-caller across from him. Even typing that out gives me chills!

But as cool as the concept of play-calling is, the opaque nature of the role makes it equally frustrating for football fans: “Why can Andy Reid’s team spin around in the huddle and still score touchdowns at will but my team can’t even pick up a 3rd and 1?”

Questions like this are poison for fans of teams with bad offensive or defensive units (like the Broncos, Cardinals, and early-season Bears on offense, Browns, Las Vegas, and the Bears again on defense) and can make fans feel like the football gods are out to get them — for any Chicago fan that lived through the Nagy era, you know the horrible feeling I’m talking about.

So how do we evaluate the Bears’ play-callers in 2023? I aim to do just that with a video series I’ll be running throughout this upcoming season called Dissecting a Drive — once a week, we’ll take a look at a key offensive or defensive drive (some good drives, some bad ones) and go through the ins and outs of each play-call to try and parse out which parts of the offense are a credit to Luke Getsy and which parts of the offense are as simple as good (or bad) players making a good (or bad) play.

In an effort to practice with the new video format, I took a look at an old drive from Week 5’s Bears game against the Vikings — in it, we see:

  • A pair of really nice run designs that use pre-snap and at-snap motion to scheme leverage for Chicago’s blockers
  • How Justin Fields can make a “wrong” play-call “right” (as well as how he did the opposite)
  • A visual example of how important every yard gained or lost is within each 3-down series
  • And much, much more

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Breaking Down how Justin Fields’ Mobility Creates Opportunities for his Teammates

| July 13th, 2023

There’s no need for a fancy intro paragraph today — Justin Fields did things with his feet last year that the NFL had never yet seen from a Quarterback and everyone on this site lived each moment more than once.

In doing so Fields put the league’s defenses on notice and, by the end of the season, so consistently drew extra attention that he opened up seams for his teammates to take advantage of.

Unfortunately for Fields, those teammates were Dante Pettis, Michael Schofield, Larry Borom, and plenty of others that simply didn’t have the talent to make the most of their opportunities. Even still, we saw early glimpses of how attempts to contain Fields might backfire in 2023 — that’s what we’ll go over today. Let’s dig in.

The Passing Game

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Previewing The Man in the Middle

| July 12th, 2023

We’re officially 2 weeks out from the start of Bears’ training camp, and that means we’re 14 days away from obsessively scrolling Twitter (and other social media platforms) for updates on Chicago Bears’ practices. With that in mind, let’s spend the next two weeks re-familiarizing ourselves with the Bears’ new additions so that, come camp time, we know the names to watch for.

To start, let’s look at…

Tremaine Edmunds

Backstory: Edmunds was the 16th overall pick of the 2018 draft and, ironically enough, was constantly compared to Roquan Smith pre-draft due their differences in style & perceived value. Edmunds had the size, length, and speed that made linebacking coaches salivate but whose instincts needed serious development whereas Roquan was seen as the ready-made modern WILL LB prototype despite being undersized.

It’s a bizarre twist of fate that the Bears effectively traded one standout first-round linebacker for another (while netting draft picks in the process) in their journey from Roquan to Edmunds, but based on Matt Eberflus’ penchant for size and length in his coverage linebackers I can’t help feeling like Edmunds will get featured within Chicago’s defense in ways that Alan Williams didn’t want to feature Smith.

I’m not normally one for paying Linebackers at the rate you could pay a formidable defensive lineman, but physical freaks like Edmunds  always command a hefty price tag — just watch him move in open space and you’ll see rare physical gifts on display. Suffice it to say, you can’t teach those traits — when pursuing a ball-carrier side-to-side, he’s a nightmare.

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The Curious Case of Jaylon Johnson’s Extension

| July 11th, 2023

It’s hard to believe that Bears’ CB Jaylon Johnson only turned 24 this April — if you’re like me, it feels like he’s been in the league too long to be that young.

And yet, it is. The 24-year-old former 2nd round pick just wrapped his 3rd season as a Chicago Bear & his 2nd as the team’s best cornerback, thus a question arises as he enters the final year of his rookie deal: Should Ryan Poles offer him a contract extension?

You’d think that extending a player like Johnson would be a no-brainer — he’s experienced as a CB1 and has already performed well in the role, he’s wildly young, and the Bears have so much cap space in 2024 and 2025 that to not extend a young player at a key position like Corner feels like irresponsible roster management. After all, the best way to combat the NFL’s Wide Receiver arms race is to stack talent at DB, right? Why create a roster hole you’d need to spend resources to fill when you’ve already got a CB1 in-house?

Like most things in this world, Johnson’s payday isn’t a question of talent — this is about money. Jaylon Johnson (who recently fired his agent) likely wants to be paid like a top-shelf CB1 (~$20M/Year), but unfortunately for Jaylon recent Corner contracts have not made his value a friendly figure to calculate. In fact, currently there are:

  • Only 5 total Corners making $19.4+ Million per year
  • Only 8 total Corners making $15M+ per year
  • Only 17 total Corners making $10M+ per year

(A snippet of the current CB market is pictured below — click to enlarge)

As such, it’s clear that the NFL recognizes a clear distinction between a “High End CB1”, a “Mid-Table CB1”, and “Everyone Else” (including players Rookies like Derek Stingley Jr, the 23rd highest paid CB in football, as well as CB2s, etc). Johnson currently belongs in that “Mid-Table CB1” category, but would he sign an extension of $12M-$15M per year if it was offered to him? Or would he bet on himself in 2023 by playing out his final year? Personally, I have no idea.

As Training Camp gets underway, I’m excited to find out.

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