Sometimes as a silly hobby, specifically in years where the Bears might draft an early quarterback, I find myself scouring mocks in February to see which way the wind is blowing. Yesterday, I looked at three such mocks.
The Bears might have to place the franchise tag on wide receiver Allen Robinson to keep him for another season, but regardless, getting another receiver will be important. He has great ability and good size at 6-2, 210.
But something stood out in both the Jeremiah and Clayton mocks. In both, New Orleans selected Mac Jones (QB, Alabama) eight picks later as the their apparently to Drew Brees.
It would be one thing to have the Bears passing on quarterback if these evaluators did not see a player worthy of selection at this stage of the draft. But if they both think Jones is good enough to be a first-round pick, and good enough for offensive guru Sean Payton, why on earth would they have the Bears passing on him?
Let me just state what should be an obvious fact. If the Bears have a first-round (or early second-round) grade on a quarterback and that quarterback is available when they’re on the clock at 20, they MUST take him. You can have all the good receivers and offensive linemen in the world but until this franchise solves the quarterback position, the rest of it doesn’t matter.
Take as many swings as necessary until you make contact.
Boston College pass rusher Harold Landry projects as a dynamic player at a position of need for the Bears. While an ankle injury slowed him last year (before ending his season completely) he still managed 21.5 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss in his last two seasons at BC. He also forced ten fumbles in his collegiate career and added an interception for good measure.
After dominating on the field, Landry put on a show at the combine last month. According to MockDraftable:
Landry tested in the 87th percentile or better in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, three-cone drill, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle.
His broad jump was in the 72nd percentile.
Many consider the agility drills to be the most important for pass rushers and Landry tested in the 91st percentile in 20-yard shuttle, 95th in three-cone drill and 99th in 60-yard shuttle.
That elite athleticism and shows on tape.
While his technique may still need some refinement, he’s incredibly active, bouncing around the edge and attacking offensive tackles before getting to the quarterback. He’s an impressive player to watch.
And the Bears will likely pass on Landry without a second thought. His arms are too short.
In his rookie season, Mitch Trubisky got to play 12 games and throw the ball 330 times. In those 330 attempts, he threw 7 interceptions, which is actually pretty good. That rate – an interception on 2.1% of his throws – was 12th best in the NFL among qualified passers, ahead of established veterans like Matt Ryan, Ben Roethlisberger, and Aaron Rodgers.
As that list above shows, there’s more to being a good quarterback than simply not throwing interceptions. But avoiding interceptions is an important part of a quarterback’s job; in no small part because they can be game-changing plays that make it a lot harder to win.
But not all interceptions are created equal. Sometimes it’s the quarterback’s fault, sometimes it’s on the wide receiver, and sometimes it’s hard to tell. In general, I think you can group them all into one of four categories:
Bad decision. These are throws that should never be made because the receiver isn’t open and a defender has a good chance at an interception. Bears fans have seen plenty of these in the last 8 years from balls being chucked up into double or triple coverage.
Bad throw. The target is open, but the pass is off target. The problem here comes not in the choice to throw but in the throw itself.
Miscommunication. The quarterback thinks the wide receiver is running one route, the wide receiver runs another route, and the defensive back is the beneficiary.
Receiver error. The receiver is open, the pass is good, but the ball bounces off of the target’s hands and gets intercepted.
The first two are both the fault of the quarterback, though in very different ways. The third one makes it pretty much impossible for us to assign fault. The last one is the fault of the target.
The Bears played pretty evenly with the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints on the road, but a series of missed opportunities (helped by one atrocious call by the officials) cost them the chance to enter the bye at 4-4.
Perhaps most important to Chicago going forward, the loss was a costly one for the Bears. Four starters left the game with injuries and did not return, including guard Kyle Long (hand), center Cody Whitehair (arm), cornerback Bryce Callahan (knee), and tight end Zach Miller (leg). We’ll wait to see how serious the injuries are, though I can say fairly confidently that Miller’s gruesome leg injury means his season (and likely his career) is finished.
Still, the best news to me from the game was that they kept fighting. When they went down 17-6 early in the 4th quarter, I expected them to roll over and quit, but from that point on the defense forced two turnovers, the offense scored a touchdown, and the special teams picked up a big return to keep Chicago in the game. The attitude on the team is changing, and the importance of that can’t be overstated.
The Bears were forced to ask for a bit more from rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky this week, and we saw some of both good and bad, as should be expected from a young quarterback. We saw the talent leading to some big plays, and we saw the rookie mistakes leading to missed opportunities and/or negative plays. The overall stat line (14/32, 164 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, 46.9 rating) looks ugly, but his performance was not that bad. Notably, Trubisky threw 2 touchdowns, but one of them was taken away by a terrible officiating call and one of them was inexplicably dropped by a wide open Jordan Howard.
1 – Have read in multiple places the Bears now have an opportunity to utilize Marquess Wilson more prominently in the game plan due to the absence of Brandon Marshall. Poppycock. Wilson should be utilized in the exact same manner he would have been were Marshall healthy. Bears are already making a terrible decision by changing the positions of Jon Bostic and Christian Jones in the name of, to paraphrase Trestman, “less disruption”. All three should spend the final weeks of 2014 playing the positions they are projected to play in September of 2015.
2 – Josh Bellamy should start tonight for the Bears and Cutler should target him. When I watched Bellamy play against Cleveland this summer he handled first-round pick Justin Gilbert with ease. (I was so convinced by Bellamy I expected him to spend the year on the Browns roster.) I think he’s a pro.
3 – So now every time the Bears run the ball unsuccessfully, media and fans will question whether the blame belongs to the blockers and back or if Cutler should have checked out. That is the damage done by Aaron Kromer. That is why its inexcusable he is still a member of the coaching staff. (Do you think Tom Coughlin would still have Kromer around? John Harbaugh?)
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip never amounted to much of a show but this is one of my favorite five minutes in TV history.
The Saints are horrible. The Bears are slightly more horrible. So why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
If the Saints didn’t win a Super Bowl a half decade ago they’d be the Chicago Bears. Their sideline is lousy with coaches shouting at one another, their defense is in the tank and now will have 2013 first-rounder Kenny Vaccaro on the bench, their offense shows up every other month and they are coming off a humiliating thrashing at the hands of the also-terrible Carolina Panthers. That was remarkably their fourth consecutive loss at home – a place where they’ve dominated the sport in the Sean Payton/Drew Brees era. It’s bad in New Orleans but…
…if you are miserable in New Orleans, you must not like drinking or eating or music or joy.
40 carries, 271 yards, 6.8 yards a clip, 2 touchdowns. That is what the Panthers did to the Saints with a wasteland of an offensive line and a combination of Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, Mike Tolbert & Fozzy Whittaker.
Cam Newton is the fifth most sacked quarterback in the NFL. The Saints didn’t get near him.
2014 Draws Comparisons to 2009
The 2009 Chicago Bears were 3-1 heading into their early-season bye week. They came out of the bye and lost 8 of their next 10 games, including defensive embarrassments against Cincinnati, Arizona and Minnesota. The team was dead and buried.
All season I have done a feature on Twitter called the Around the League Tweets (with various fake sponsors) and five times this season I mentioned how excited I’d be to bet against Andy Dalton in a playoff game. And what did I do? Not only did I not gamble against Dalton but I picked the Bengals to win! My quest for a perfect postseason died on Wild Card Weekend. I deserved the opening 3-1. On to the next round…
SATURDAY 4:35 PM ET – NEW ORLEANS AT SEATTLE
Line: Seahawks -8
Analysis: Thought Rob Ryan’s performance in Philadelphia was one of the most impressive defensive game plans we’ve seen in the NFL all season long but that won’t be enough to compensate for NOLA’s offensive struggles on the road. Seattle beat the Eagles in Philadelphia by relying on Mark Ingram and the ground game – an element the Seahawks will certainly take away with their front. That leaves Drew Brees to win the game through the air and he’s not the same player on the road.
Side note: Is it strange that I would give the Seahawks no shot if this game were in New Orleans? That doesn’t feel like the mark of a Super Bowl champion. I’ll worry about that next week.
All point spreads provided below were listed on BETUS.com as of Wednesday afternoon.
Saturday 4:35 PM ET – Kansas City at Indianapolis
Line: Indianapolis -2.5
Analysis: I’m going with a three-pronged approach to this.
Andy Reid is always a little dicey when it comes to the postseason. All of a sudden how he controls the game/manages the clock becomes far more important and Reid is notoriously terrible at both of those things.
Since losing 42-28 on the road to the Bengal the Colts have thrashed the Texans, Chiefs and Jaguars. Yes I know two of those three are not the most impressive opponents and KC had nothing to play for in December but I like seeing teams dominate teams they should dominate.
Aren’t we due for an Andrew Luck, national spotlight, coming out party? While all the talk has been about Bob Griffin drama and Kaepernick struggling for ten weeks, Luck has quietly just gone about winning games. I think he’s going to have a big afternoon.