Dannehy: “Special, Special, Special, Special Special” Justin Fields.

| November 9th, 2022

It should not be possible for a quarterback to run toward the line of scrimmage, leave his feet for a pump fake, come back to the ground, and then outrace the defense for a 61-yard touchdown.

But that’s what Justin Fields did on Sunday and such plays are becoming a weekly occurrence.

What makes Fields special isn’t just what he’s doing, it’s that so often the defense appears to be in position to make a play and they don’t because he is too good. Perhaps most telling are the comments from opponents. 

Melvin Ingram has been around the block, he said Fields is special five times. Jaelan Phillips called him a monster, Mike McDaniel said Fields is “as dynamic with the ball in his hands as any player in the league really.”

Luke Getsy deserves credit for checking his ego and installing an offense that works for his quarterback. It’s fair to question why it took so long to do that, but that’s old history. The true challenge for Getsy will be coming up with a counter when opponents are able to adjust.

That said, the Bears offense is taking off because of the quarterback.

Did Poles Mess Up?

Imagine if this offense was paired with a top fifteen defense? It isn’t that crazy because that’s exactly what the Bears had prior to the trades of Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith.

When the Bears entered the season, the common thought was that the defense would be good, and the offense would be only as good as Justin Fields. That proved true through the first seven weeks as the team struggled to score points. The defense was still pretty good.

Now they have an offense that looks like an absolute machine, but they’re still not likely to win many more games simply because their defense cannot get a stop.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


Week 8: Bears at Cowboys Game Preview, Volume II (Game Prediction)

| October 28th, 2022

Three Things I Think Will Happen Sunday:

  • Micah Parsons et al will wreck the game. It is just too tall an order for this Bears offensive line. Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy will likely approach this game about as conservatively as they have all season but there are very few mismatches this obvious in the NFL.
  • The Cowboys, on offense, have been one of the more poorly coached teams in the league. But Mike McCarthy and Kellen Moore seemed to discover something against the Lions: their OL and running game can dominate. Expect 10-15 carries each (again) for Tony Pollard an Ezekiel Elliot and expect them to rush for well over 100 yards combined.
  • The return games will be pivotal, especially when it comes to field position. KaVontae Turpin is one of the more electric return men in the sport and the Bears can’t let him give Dallas short fields. Also, this might be a Sunday to encourage whoever is returning kickoffs for the Bears – and it should be Velus Jones – to take a few chances and try to spring a big play. It will take one for the Bears to win.

Dallas Cowboys 20, Chicago Bears 10

Tagged: , , , ,


Week 8: Bears at Cowboys Game Preview, Volume I

| October 27th, 2022

They are coming off a truly surprising victory on Monday, so it seems silly to ask…

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?







Biggest Mismatch of the Season

There is, quite literally, no reason to overwrite the game preview this week. The game is going to be decided by the answer to single question: can the Bears block the Cowboys? And to this point in the season, no one has.

Dallas has 91 pressures, 12 more than the next team.

They have a pressure percentage of 32.6%, tops in the sport.

They have 29 sacks, averaging more than four per game: again, best in the league.

This is a matchup that should be expected to wreck the game. The Bears have a banged up offensive line, and their healthy offensive line weren’t particularly good pass blockers anyway.

This is also the most significant challenge Luke Getsy and Justin Fields have faced all season. And I list them as a duo intentionally, because the Bears won’t move the football or contend Sunday if the two men are not operating with a singular, cohesive plan.

Getsy needs to structure the offense around protection. Keep Cole Kmet on the edge, employ an extra lineman, etc. But he also needs to exploit what will certainly be a salivating pass rush. This is the week to use the screen game as a weapon and, if possible, get Velus Jones into the scheme, because his speed could keep Dallas somewhat off-balance.

Fields needs to understand that (a) he will be under consistent duress and (b) he can’t let that duress cause game-ending mistakes. He needs to take the easy throw, even when the easy throw is into the fourth row. When the pocket is collapsing, he needs to quickly use his legs and get what he can on the ground. Waiting for wide receivers to get open Sunday will lead to a replication of the Cleveland game a year ago. These receivers need ages to get open and Fields won’t have ages in the pocket.

If the Bears find a way to block the Cowboys, even half-decently, they can win Sunday. But that will be their most difficult task undertaken this season.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


Dannehy: Fair to Question Luke Getsy

| October 5th, 2022

Once again, Chicago Bears fans are left playing the “chicken or the egg” game when it comes to determining what, exactly, is the problem with the team’s offense. But there certainly is some evidence to suggest offensive coordinator Luke Getsy isn’t getting the most out of his players.

Justin Fields might be bad, but we know he is certainly capable of being much better than this. In his last four complete games of his rookie season, he passed for 975 yards and five touchdowns, with a passer rating of 85.9. Compare that to the first four of 2022, in which he has managed 471 yards, two touchdowns and a rating of, gulp, 58.7.

Fields isn’t even as effective as a rusher. In that same span, he ran for 257 yards, compared to 147 this year.

Somehow, the Bears offense is worse. They went from 27th in scoring and 24th in yardage to 31st in both. They are averaging 33 fewer yards and 2.3 fewer points per game. It is especially concerning when one evaluates Getsy’s performance in the passing game because, well, Getsy came to the team after being a passing game coordinator. It’s supposed to be his specialty.

It’s hard to see a major difference in the supporting cast; it isn’t as if the Bears didn’t have struggles at wide receiver and offensive line last year. And, while I have written several times about the difficulties Fields might have adjusting to an offense he has never played in — especially one that quarterbacks tend to struggle in — at least some of that should be offset simply by Fields no longer being a rookie.

The benefit of the wide zone offense Getsy was set to bring to Chicago is supposed to be the easy throws for the quarterback, but we aren’t seeing those. One can watch any Green Bay Packers game and see several examples of Aaron Rodgers taking a three step drop and making an easy throw for six yards. Do those not exist in Getsy’s version of the offense or is the quarterback not pulling the trigger?

Read More …

Tagged: , , , , ,


Bears are Bad, Time to Throw Out the Conservative Playbook

| October 3rd, 2022

The Bears are a bad football team. And they are going to win some games this year because there are several other bad football teams, and their schedule is laden with them.

Through the first month of this season, Matt Eberflus and Luke Getsy have called the games they believed they needed to call in order to win. They have operated with that singular mission It worked, twice. It failed, twice. But at 2-2 there are obvious truths about this 2022 team that need facing.

The Bears are not good. (If you embrace this point, you can skip the next few sentences.)

The Bears cannot compete with the better teams in the league.

The Bears are allowing Rutgers-level yardage on the ground.

The Bears don’t have a passing game.

The Bears have liabilities across their young roster.

The Bears have nothing to play for in 2022, except for 2023.

And this last point is why Flus and Getsy must transition from the “try to win games” approach to the “see what we have at quarterback” approach. If Justin Fields has any chance to be the future of the Chicago Bears at quarterback, the next 13 games have to be centrally focused on answering that question. If that means he throws a bad interception on 3rd and 16, so be it. If that means he bails on a pocket too early around the goal line and fails to score a touchdown, so be it. If that means the team loses a few games they should win, so be it. Playing offensive football, the way they are currently playing it, has zero – I repeat, ZERO – long-term benefits for this organization.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,


Dannehy: Passing Game Failures are Everyone’s Fault

| September 21st, 2022

If Week One was a giant victory for the Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus era, Week Two was a terrible defeat.

There is a lot of blame to go around for Chicago’s failures against Green Bay. It starts by looking at the rosters. When you compare Green Bay’s defensive front to Chicago’s offensive line, and their secondary to Chicago’s receivers, it is a total mismatch.

That said, it isn’t like the Bears have a bare cupboard. The fact that Justin Fields has fewer than 200 passing yards through two games is, well, shocking.  Nobody will say Fields was great as a rookie, but in his last two games in 2021 he had more than 500 passing yards and three touchdowns. We can talk all day about the players the Bears don’t have, but they do have two who should be good options in the passing game in Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet. Both were able to produce last year and can’t even get the ball thrown their way this year.

Was Matt Nagy that good or is Luke Getsy that bad?

That isn’t to absolve Fields, Kmet, Mooney or any of the other players. We’re simply learning that they aren’t good enough at this point. That also shouldn’t be a surprise. If you go back to the early reports from camp, they were all about how much the Bears were working on their running game and not their passing game. How could anybody expect mediocre — if we’re being generous — talent to produce against elite talent when they haven’t even put the time in on the practice field?

The NFL season is guaranteed to have 17 tests and the Bears have gone through two of them. The team’s front office and coaching staff is well aware that they aren’t going to be contending for the Super Bowl this year. They knowingly took the slow path to success and, unfortunately, that means there will be games like Sunday night.

Read More …

Tagged: , , ,


Do Summer Performances Raise Expectations for 2022? Maybe.

| August 29th, 2022

The Bears played terrific defense in each of their three preseason games, doing so mostly without the involvement of their two best defensive players, Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn. The veterans (Morrow, Jones, Muhammad, etc.) contributed consistently and the kids (Brisker, Gordon) were the summer’s shining light. If this group can find enough pass rush, still a significant if, they will be a unit easily slotted into the top half of the sport.

The Bears also looked solid on specials in their preseason games and on the Lake Forest practice field. Cairo Santos is one of the most reliable kickers in the league. Trenton Gill is looking like a seventh-round steal, especially considering that the more ballyhooed punter in the draft, Matt Araiza, has now been accused of participation in a gang rape and is out of the sport. And the team has what you want when it comes to return men, the steadiness of a Dante Pettis and the explosiveness of a Velus Jones Jr. (Coverage units are difficult to evaluate during the summer because they are formed by the bottom third of the roster.)

When it came to the competitiveness of the 2022 Bears, it was always going to come down to the offense. Would the quarterback take the next step? Could the young line hold up? Do they have enough playmakers on the outside? How long would it take this group to grasp Luke Getsy’s system – a system that has historically struggled in year one? Questions, questions, questions, questions. But did the summer provide any answers?

Yes, I think one could argue it did.

The quarterback had his moment Saturday night. And it was a moment many inside the building were desperate to see. He was poised in the pocket, processed the field well, and was decisive and accurate with his throws. It was still a practice game, and it’ll be forgotten by the middle of the week, but it has to instill a tremendous amount of confidence in Justin Fields as he embarks upon the journey of his sophomore season.

The young offensive line has looked just fine and should improve when Lucas Patrick makes his expected return in September. This group is going to have its struggles. Braxton Jones is a rookie. Teven Jenkins is playing his first season at guard. Larry Borom probably shouldn’t be a starting tackle, but the team’s future will be better served getting him on-field experience this year. There will be drives that frustrate fans and drives that enthrall fans. That’s the story with young starters in the NFL. But this unit has certainly not been the liability this summer many predicted.

As for playmakers, of course the Bears don’t have enough. Not even close. Look at the talent outside for contenders like the Bucs, Rams, Bengals, Bills and the entirety of the AFC West. “Why can’t the Bears contend for a title this year?” is often asked by the most optimistic of fans on social media. (They must know, but they ask anyway.) This is the answer. But a few things should be noted here. First, a Larry Mayer tweet:

Read More …

Tagged: , ,


Dannehy: Aaron Rodgers Doesn’t Like Bears Scheme & Other Preseason Thoughts

| August 24th, 2022

While fans have celebrated the offensive scheme change the Chicago Bears have implemented, count Aaron Rodgers as one who thinks it is a downgrade. In a somewhat recent interview with Pardon My Take, Rodgers went on a tangent about how the West Coast offense — which the Bears ran under Matt Nagy — is better than the scheme Luke Getsy is bringing from Green Bay.

“This scheme has flaws,” Rodgers said. “I grew up in the West Coast offense, which I think is the most beautiful offense ever created. It’s about timing and rhythm and balance and everything makes sense protection wise. You know where your hots are, you know where your eyes are going every single time, you know how the concepts fit together.”

Rodgers was drafted by Mike Sherman, who ran a variation of the West Coast he learned from Mike Holmgren. Mike McCarthy then took over, bringing a version that he learned from one of the scheme’s originators, Paul Hackett. Rodgers offered many complaints about the Shanahan-style outside zone scheme implemented by Matt LaFluer, when he was hired in 2019.

“This is a schematic offense. That (West Coast) was not a schematic offense. That was built on timing and precision and rhythm and guys being in the right spot at the right time and putting the ball on the proper number,” Rodgers said. “(It is) predicated on winning one-on-one matchups and being accurate throwing the football.”

Roughly translated, it sounds like Rodgers prefers the West Coast because it’s more about Jimmy’s and Joe’s than X’s and O’s. He probably has a point.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,


Dannehy: History Says Fields May Need Time to Learn This Offense

| June 3rd, 2022

Everything is on the table for the 2022 Chicago Bears, including the possibility that Justin Fields will initially struggle to learn a new offense. That is not a comment specifically about Fields, but instead based on the historical trends of this offense around the league. The Bears have spoken extensively about playing to what Fields does best and last week Cole Kmet detailed what that might entail. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy, and history shows it’s unlikely to be quick.

While Matt Nagy’s offense was rightly criticized, saying the new offense fits Fields’ strengths better is mostly a projection. As Fields said himself, what the Bears did last year was familiar to him.

“I think the only different thing with our offense is that at Ohio St., we did signals from the sidelines so actually getting in the huddle and calling the play out is the only different thing,” Fields said in a press conference May 21, 2021. “Everything else is pretty much the same when it comes to concepts and stuff like that.”

It’s likely that Nagy had sound offensive concepts, and coming from the world of Andy Reid, that would be expected, but he couldn’t coach the execution. The scheme Nagy wanted to run works, he just wasn’t able to successfully teach it or call it in the framework of an actual ballgame.

This new scheme should better fit what Fields can do well at the NFL level. Getting him out of the pocket on more designed rollouts and emphasizing play action should, in theory, benefit Fields, but this scheme doesn’t always click right away. Luke Getsy comes from Green Bay, and even they, with one of best quarterbacks ever, had issues in the first year.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,


Dannehy: Scheme Alone Can’t Fix Bears Offense

| May 18th, 2022

Relying on a scheme change to fix a broken offense has proven to be a broken philosophy, especially when the person in charge of that scheme has never done the job before. Luke Getsy made reference to scheme being a reason to believe the offense — specifically the pass catchers — will be better, and while he should have confidence in his own ability, he surely knows the Bears need their players to be better if they’re going to score more points. Getsy is well regarded, but new play callers generally struggle and almost never get time to figured it out.

In the last decade, 26 non-offensive coaches have been hired. Nine of those went with offensive coordinators who were new to the job and the success rate of those coaches is not good. Of those nine, three were fired after just one season and two were canned during or after their second seasons. One was fired with the entire staff after the second season.

There are two young play callers entering with their jobs on the line in 2022.  Mike LaFleur needs his Jets to improve from being in the bottom six of the league pretty much across the board. Scott Turner took over in Carolina during the 2019 season and went to Washington with Ron Rivera, but his offenses have all been near the bottom-10.

The one real success story so far is interesting, as Matt LaFleur had a bottom-10 offense in his lone season running Mike Vrable’s unit in Tennessee before becoming the head coach of the Packers. LaFleur, of course, has been dominant in Green Bay, but we don’t need to talk about that.

As highly thought of as Getsy is, the same could be said for the likes of Joe Brady, Rich Scangarello, Geep Chryst and Rick Dennison.

Read More …

Tagged: , ,