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Audibles From the Long Snapper: What I’m Hearing Pre-Free Agency

| March 8th, 2024


The “legal tampering” period begins Monday, and a lot is set to change around the NFL. Here are my thoughts on everything.

First, the Bears.

  • Buffalo did not want to lose Ryan Bates, but his cap number would not be sustainable for 2024. Said one Bills executive to me, “You got a good one.” Ryan Poles wanted Bates to anchor his offensive line at center two years ago, and that still could be the strategy.
    • The Bills salary purges on Wednesday were devastating in their building. Some aging veterans, sure, but a lot of leadership left that organization.
  • Don’t fret about Jaylon Johnson. The Bears will get a long-term deal done. Johnson isn’t going anywhere.
  • There were Justin Fields-to-Atlanta rumors when the Falcons were running Arthur Smith’s offense. Those rumors continued, even as the Falcons switched to Zac Robinson’s offense. In what world does Fields fit both of these offenses, especially the latter? Is this hypothetical trade based entirely on geography?
    • Most of the top-level NFL scoopmeisters believe Kirk Cousins will be the next QB of the Falcons. If that’s the case, that would further limit potential trade destinations for Fields.
  • I’ve heard some of the names on the edge linked to the Bears. I’ll continue to pound the drum for the best pure pass rusher on the market, Bryce Huff. (I would argue the 9th pick should be used on whichever position the Bears don’t fully address in FA, edge rusher or wide receiver.)
  • I’ve been wondering if the Bears would be in the market for a backup quarterback but folks I trust believe the Bears trust Tyson Bagent in that role, even with a rookie quarterback.

Around the League…

  • The specter of Bill Belichick is now haunting Brian Daboll in New Jersey.
  • Rumors have Saquon Barkley as a primary target for DeMeco Ryan and the Texans. As someone who fantasy owned their entire backfield a season ago, it is a giant hole in their roster. If Barkley stayed healthy in Houston, he’d have All Pro potential.
    • There are also rumors of Barkley to Chicago, and I think he’d have even greater potential here.

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Chicago Bears Dominated Their Foe, Secure Future On Thursday Night

| November 10th, 2023


Coming out of halftime, Bears’ Head Coach Matt Eberflus promised the nation that he ‘had tricks up his sleeve’ in the 2nd half of Chicago’s game against the Carolina Panthers. He may not have had much more in mind than a battering D’Onta Foreman touchdown run and a suffocating defensive gameplan, but he reached into his sleeve and pulled out a gritty, ugly win on Thursday Night Football all the same.

Sometimes we don’t ask how the win happened, we simply ask how many wins the team can provide. Chicago’s latest win keeps their own playoff hopes alive (even if only technically) while pushing Carolina down a path that the Panthers may not recover from this season — with Chicago holding onto Carolina’s 2024 1st round draft selection, that’s great news for the Bears indeed.

ESPN Analytics list the Bears as having a 42% chance at the 2024 NFL draft’s #1 overall pick, with even better odds that they land a top 2 pick rather than exclusively #1. That’s great news for Chicago regardless of whether you want to see the Bears reset at Quarterback or not — as we saw in last year’s DJ Moore trade, high picks are valuable commodities that create extraordinary opportunities for the teams that possess them.

Thursday’s contest was anything but a pretty game, and chances are the results didn’t change your opinion of Matt Eberflus one way or another. If you didn’t like him before, his conservative offensive game-plan, goofy halftime quote, and bizarre decision to kick the extra point with the score at 10-15 (rather than going for 2 and playing for a 7-point lead) likely didn’t sway you now. But if the offensive line’s recent chutzpah and the defense’s clear improvement have gotten you thinking about what Flus’ vision could look like given another offseason, I wouldn’t blame you for that either.

Next week’s Detroit game looms large for Matt Eberflus — if he wants to make a statement, he’ll need to make it in his trip to Motown. But between then and now, enjoy 11 days of that winning feeling.


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Checking the Tape: Bears Offense in the Superdome

| November 7th, 2023


It’s a short week for us fans as the Bears get set to play what may just be the biggest remaining game on their schedule — whether you’re a fan cheering for Bears draft position or simply a fan cheering for the Bears, Chicago has a chance to all but lock in a Top 2 Pick in the 2024 NFL Draft with a win over a bad Carolina Panthers team that plays nothing but tough teams (and Green Bay) down the stretch.

But we’ll get to Thursday soon — first, let’s take a look back at what the tape said about Sunday’s offensive showing. My observations (along with associated cut-ups) are listed below:

Sections today are:

  • Discussion of each of the 5 major Offensive Linemen
  • Talking through some of the ‘gross’ within the Bears’ offense
  • Where Bagent won, where Bagent lost, what I’d like to see from Bagent on Thursday
  • A quick Cole Kmet mention

Teven Jenkins played phenomenally

Nobody in a Bears uniform plays with the natural nastiness that Teven Jenkins does, especially when run-blocking. #76 finished run after run against New Orleans and looked like a down-in and down-out leader as he did.

He had a great day in pass protection as well. If he can stay healthy for the rest of the year, I’d hope Ryan Poles explores an offseason extension.

Here’s another look at Teven mauling open a run lane later in the game…

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Disappointed, But Not Surprised

| November 6th, 2023

I’ve been trying to come up with something passion-fueled to say this morning, but honestly yesterday’s Bears game was one of the most ho-hum performances I’ve ever seen.

The Bears’ offense surprised early and moved the ball with ease, but ultimately their UDFA Rookie QB struggled with turnovers late and became yet another Bears QB that can’t seem to score points in the 4th quarter.

The Bears’ defense held the Saints’ offense to a hair over 300 yards on the day (and a very solid 4.9 yards per play), but when you take a look at Derek Carr’s passing chart it becomes clear that Chicago didn’t challenge the Saints to do anything dangerous and the Saints offense willfully obliged. For the fourth time in the Eberflus era, this resulted in zero sacks and zero takeaways on what must’ve felt like an easy day for New Orleans.



This game played out so similarly to the rest of the Matt Eberflus era that I don’t have it in me to get mad about results like this anymore. You could say it was ‘Disappointing, but not Surprising’ and I’d agree with you. Chicago’s defensive head coach needed his offense to be the leaders today, and ultimately that was too tall an ask for a Rookie UDFA QB playing against DVOA’s 8th toughest defense in football. As usual, that added up to a loss.

Oh well. Onwards to Thursday!


The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly


The Good:

  • Cole Kmet, Take A Bow. Kmet has been a lightning rod for criticism ever since Matt Nagy picked him in the 2nd round of the 2020 NFL Draft, but against New Orleans the 24-year-old tight end stepped up in a huge way. He capped off the Bears’ first drive with the most physical catch of his life (turning a potentially dangerous throw into a touchdown in the process), added another score just two drives later on a perfect block/release route, and stacked big first downs for his quarterback throughout the rest of the game.
    • Most Fantasy Football experts have identified a Tight End’s ‘breakout age’ to be between 25 & 26 — could Cole Kmet’s best days be ahead of him? Days like Sunday make you believe he just might have a ‘next step’ in him.
  • Who doesn’t love good offensive line play? Darnell Wright played another stout game on the right side, Teven Jenkins buried multiple defenders in the run game, and Braxton Jones slotted in at Left Tackle as if he hadn’t missed any time at all… until his coaches pulled him and set him & Larry Borom on another one of the OL Rotations we’ve become accustomed to in Chicago. Still, the young core of the offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage for the majority of the game — nothing could be more important for the Bears’ future than seeing that become consistent.
    • NFL Next Gen Stats has Tyson Bagent’s Time To Throw clocked at 3.29 seconds, yet the young QB only took 2 sacks on 30 dropbacks — I’d call that a credit to Chicago’s offensive line, especially since New Orleans’ EDGE Rushers are a difficult pair to keep at bay.
  • The Defense tackled well, but I’m waiting for the All-22 to assign credit. Everyone flew around throughout the day — Jack Sanborn, TJ Edwards, Montez Sweat, and all the DBs made tackles chasing down RBs and cutting down underneath WRs. Ultimately the performance wasn’t enough to keep New Orleans at bay, but the broadcast copy didn’t seem to point the finger at any particular defensive player moreso than the scheme itself. The players played the scheme admirably.

The Bad

  • Tyson Bagent, rookie or not, was too chaotic down the stretch. Tyson Bagent had a fabulous first half — he distributed the football, he took shots past the line of scrimmage, he targeted NFL windows, and he navigated pockets with poise. Unfortunately, as the Saints defense shifted away from Zone coverage and mixed in more Man coverage looks, windows got tighter for Bagent as the clock ticked down and it seems nerves got the better of the young signal caller. Suffice to say, no QB is going to succeed when they turn the ball over three times in the 4th quarter.
    • A big-picture note on Bagent: Too many on the internet laid unreasonable expectations on a UDFA rookie and are now acting disappointed that he looks like a rookie QB. I’m not a fan of that. Tyson Bagent only started repping the Bears’ in-season offense 6 weeks ago (he was surely running scout team until he was named the backup in Week 5), so he’s learning what he can & can’t do against NFL starting defenses on the job. If anything, I’m surprised a performance like this didn’t happen sooner.
    • In the bigger picture, Bagent showed during the first half that he can operate an NFL offense efficiently when his run game is working for him and the score is close. That is much more than anyone should’ve expected from a UDFA Rookie QB, especially given that his background compares better to 5th round pick Clayton Tune and UDFA Veteran Backup Brett Rypien than other starters around the league. The moment he started getting compared to Justin Fields, Brock Purdy, and other starters was the moment he’d already vastly exceeded expectations — don’t let four nasty turnovers in his 2nd road start seal your opinion of him.
  • I hate this staff’s willingness to rotate OL. I’ve never seen an organization so willing to create chaos on the offensive line for the sake of ‘getting a guy some work’ — the only traditional times we see offensive lines change mid-game is when players get hurt, but this Bears org willingly creates that change when they rotate in offensive linemen coming off of injuries. I don’t want to be blind to an injured player’s stamina/conditioning, but is it really so surprising that Tyson Bagent’s strip sack came with Larry Borom in the game? I can’t (and won’t) pretend to understand how the rotation helps.
  • The defensive game plan will never stop frustrating me. Eddie Jackson ‘said that on film, [the Bears] saw a Saints team that threw it downfield. They expected more chances at INTs’. I don’t know why they expected that after a week where Justin Herbert checked the ball down to extreme success. The Bears’ defensive willingness to call Cover 2/Tampa 2 with a 4-down rush opens them up to major gashes underneath when they don’t tackle. It also opens up the middle of the field when their linebackers overreact to Play Action handoffs. Want to guess where New Orleans made their hay?

The Ugly

  • ‘Playing the Vets’ defeats the purpose of the season. Gervon Dexter & Zacch Pickens got less than 15 snaps each despite Dexter clearly making strides. Tyrique Stevenson got benched as the game got close despite Carr rarely testing the outside boundary. Matt Eberflus clearly smelled a chance to win his 6th game in his Bears tenure and elected to play experienced players over the rookies that stand to be part of this organization for longer than he does, and I see that as a glaring lack of understanding.
    • I mean no disrespect to Jaylon Jones in saying this — the former UDFA has played well when given chances throughout the 2023 season, and you truly can never have too many good DBs. But I didn’t see Tyrique do anything bench-worthy before Jaylon got sent in the game. To me, this felt like a coach under pressure trying to ‘control what he can control’ — I’m not a fan. Do what’s best for the organization and get rewarded by the rest of the league.
  • The Bears’ inability to close out games is a disease. The Quarterback has changed, the Wide Receivers have changed, the Offensive Line has largely changed, but one truth still remains — once the 4th quarter starts, the Bears’ offense can’t pass the ball. The defense gave them four chances to simply tie the game, and all four ended in either a turnover or a 3-and-out. Eventually, the coaching staff has to answer for results this consistent.

Postgame Podcast:

Nick and I recorded a podcast where we talked through the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of Chicago’s latest loss here:

Your Turn: How do you feel about yesterday’s game?

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One Door Closes, Another Door Opens

| October 30th, 2023


As the final whistle blew on Sunday Night, the Chicago Bears fell to a 2-6 record in 2023. If the season wasn’t already lost, it’s assuredly lost now.

Matt Eberflus can take pride in knowing that this game was (probably) his fastest defeat yet — it only took 20 football minutes for ESPN’s Win Probability metric to assign Los Angeles a 95+% chance to win the game, and unfortunately the actual play on the field only served to reinforce the sense of dread that has become normalized within the Eberflus era.

The Chargers could move the ball at will. Tyson Bagent threw an early interception. Once the Bears’ offense finally found the endzone, Los Angeles scored another touchdown to immediately answer what little offense the Bears could muster. With a halftime score of 7-24, you knew that the game was already over… but as the team stumbled and fell for the 20th time in Matt Eberflus’ first 25 games, one silver lining appeared:

There are no more excuses for Matt Eberflus or his staff to hide behind, and the Bears’ front office knows it. The expression on Kevin Warren’s face last night says it all.

https://twitter.com/_MarcusD3_/status/1718819985055744474

While nothing’s more normal than a Bears-focused blogger writing a post about the shortcomings of Chicago’s coaches, last night’s game stood out to me for several reasons:

  1. Matt Eberflus had the opportunity to show that without Justin Fields in the lineup, his vision of a ball-control offense could contend with the NFL’s best teams. Instead, Chicago averaged just 2.9 Yards per Carry and the offense failed to score until the game was nearly out of reach.
  2. Matt Eberflus had the opportunity to show that his defense can slow down & stop one of the NFL’s best young QB talents. Instead, his defense allowed 15 straight completions to open the game, 6.6 yards/play on the Chargers’ first 5 drives, and as easy a 298-yard day through the air as I’ve seen from Chicago’s opponents this season. The defense could barely even compete.
  3. Matt Eberflus had the opportunity to show that his hard coaching style could result in focused, high-yield play in big games. Instead, the Bears took silly penalties early & often (Patrick’s Hands To The Face, Velus’s Fair Catch Interference) and failed to tackle consistently.

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Previewing Bagent’s Primetime Matchup With the LA Chargers

| October 26th, 2023

Once again, Chicago Bears UDFA QB Tyson Bagent enters the weekend set & ready to start the latest ‘biggest game of his life’.

Last weekend he handled business against a Brian Hoyer-led Raiders team on his homefield at noon. A huge win, and a rare achievement among the UDFA QBs throughout NFL history.

As a reward, he’ll now face the one and only Justin Herbert in primetime on Sunday Night Football with what remains of the Bears season hanging in the balance. If that wasn’t enough pressure on its own, the game is also on the road.

It’s a massive moment for the rookie QB. Frankly, it’s a massive moment for the entire Bears coaching staff, as you know Matt Eberflus would do nearly anything to start the first win streak of his Chicago tenure start on a night where the entire nation will be watching.

This game feels dramatic — the stage is set. I’m leaning into the moment and I hope you do too.

But once the game kicks off, which matchups are going to dictate the flow of the game? What advantages can Chicago exploit within a depleted Chargers roster? In the latest episode of Bear With Us, Nick and I talk through all of this and much much more. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Free Sample

Within the podcast, Nick and I picked out the 2 matchups on Offense & Defense that we each think are going to drive this game. I’ll let you search out our explanations within the podcast itself, but here are the matchups each of us chose:

Nick’s Key Matchups:

  • Offense: Marcedes Lewis’ Chip Blocks vs Khalil Mack
  • Offense: Cody Whitehair & Lucas Patrick vs LAC’s Lackluster DTs
  • Defense: TJ Edwards vs Austin Eckler
  • Defense: Andrew Billings vs a weak LAC Interior OL

My Key Matchups:

  • Offense: Tyson Bagent vs ‘The Moment’ (How will he respond when the Chargers inevitably force him to adjust?)
  • Offense: DJ Moore vs Asante Samuel
  • Defense: Tyrique Stevenson vs Keenan Allen
  • Defense: Justin Herbert attacking Zone vs Tremaine Edmunds

Bonus:

You may have ‘felt’ this on Sunday, but Tyson Bagent’s dropback speed holds up to the stopwatch — compared to Justin Fields, Bagent currently saves about a half-second on 5-step & 7-step dropbacks through crisp footwork. That extra half-second seems to help Bagent stay alive in the pocket & distribute the ball quickly, which resulted in the Bears’ OL giving up their lowest QB hit total of the year (3 QB hits compared to Fields’ average of 8 QB hits per game).

I’m really happy with how the video accompaniment came out — check it out if you’ve got ~52 seconds. You may be surprised at how stark the difference is.

Your Turn: How are you feeling about Sunday Night’s Game?

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Honest review of Tyson Bagent’s Raiders Game

| October 24th, 2023

In Short: He was very, very good for a UDFA rookie.

The theme of Tyson’s day was avoiding negative plays — sure, he made some big plays for his team (Scott 3rd & 5 early, the 2nd & 11 scramble, etc) and he kept the offense on-schedule, but you’re telling me a rookie QB with one week’s prep was responsible for only one negative play in 33 drop-backs? Get outta here!

Between Bagent & Luke Getsy’s rushing attack (which was surprisingly diverse), Chicago basically never stopped moving the ball forward. They didn’t generate many chunk plays (we’ll get there later), but they didn’t need to — Bagent was comfortable hitting 6 yard flat routes, checking the ball down in-rhythm, sneaking it on 3rd & short, and ‘canning’ (audibling) into rushing plays he liked when he saw fronts that matched up well for the Bears.

None of this is amazing in an NFL QB vacuum, but we’re not talking about a 5-year starter — Bagent’s a rookie! For him to play as consistently as he did without feeling the need to force the ball into unsafe windows was impressive in and of itself. Just take a look at Bryce Young — often, it’s a rookie’s eagerness to make a play that can undo them.

Most importantly, Bagent turned a few potential disaster plays (the checkdown to Blasingame, the play with a defender draped around his ankles, plus a batted ball early & another checkdown along the sidelines) into neutral plays or small positive gains for his team — his release is lightning fast and he commonly throws without his base anyways, so Bagent had no trouble whipping an accurate ball to a teammate when things got dangerous.

Again, across 33 drop-backs, the Raiders didn’t just end up with one sack… they only registered 3 QB hits in a game where Bagent’s RT might as well have been playing with one arm. And even when the Raiders pressured Bagent, he found ways to get the ball out of his hands. That’s a legit skill, and it’s the kind of skill that can keep your team’s chains moving on a day like last Sunday.

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The Biggest Moment of Tyson Bagent’s Life Wasn’t Too Big For Him

| October 23rd, 2023


The buzz around UDFA QB Tyson Bagent in the week leading up to the Raiders-Bears game was electric.

Both the Chicago and NFL media world seemed ready to explode if Bagent was even modestly successful — Bagent had already captured Chicago’s eye during the preseason, but when you factor in his underdog background (former Division 2 QB at Shepherd University), his hilarious armwrestling father, and the potential impact he could have on a 1-5 team that needed a spark against a beatable opponent, it’s no surprise that Tyson quickly became one of the easiest players to root for in football.

But a great story is often just that — a story. The NFL builds up underdogs every year only to see them fall at the hands of Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Kyle Shannahan, and the rigors of the NFL. It wasn’t long ago that Patriots QB Mac Jones was benched for 4th round QB Bailey Zappe in a 2022 game that Bears fans will never forget, but what most won’t remember about the rest of that game was Bailey Zappe’s three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble lost) and an overall performance that pushed New England right back to Jones the next week. The NFL’s best storybook tales often end in defeat.

But that couldn’t be further from what happened on Sunday. Instead, Bagent beat the odds once more and played a mistake-free football game (which is remarkable for a rookie, by the way) behind a creative Bears rushing attack that simply needed him to stay on-schedule through the air, convert the occasional 3rd down, and let D’Onta Foreman and a ramshackle Chicago offensive line slowly take over the game. And as 173 yards on the ground, a 4.6 yards-per-carry figure, and 2 touchdowns suggest, that’s exactly what this running game did.

As the offense marched up and down the field, Bagent’s ability to avoid negative plays really stood out to me — the 2023 Chicago Bears’ offense has been defined at times by drive-killing negative plays (sacks, turnovers, defensive touchdowns against), but in 30 dropbacks against the Raiders the only sack that Bagent allowed came with 9 seconds left in the first half. Throughout the rest of the game, Bagent navigated pocket pressure cleanly, distributed the ball to checkdowns/outlets, and allowed teammates like Khari Blasingame to prove their NFL worth by fielding Bagent’s outlet passes and churning out 4-6 yards after the catch.

On nearly every play, the ball moved a little further down the field. The ball never fell into the opposition’s hands. And, despite three false starts and three holding penalties, the Bears churned out 23 1st downs within a balanced offense and scored 24 points in the process. Bagent wasn’t the star, but was instead the leader of an 11-man unit — on Sunday, that unit was more than good enough to churn out offense and put up points.

I’d say that’s about as good as you can ask of a UDFA rookie QB in his first start.

There may be another day for hand-wringing over whether or not Bagent can repeat this start against better defenses, how long Bagent can succeed without attempting a throw further than 15 yards downfield (chart pictured below), or what this means for the future of the Chicago Bears’ QB position, but that day is not today.

Today, focus on how Tyson Bagent out-dueled a 15-year NFL Veteran in what was no-doubt the biggest game of his life — Sunday’s moment wasn’t too big for him, and with 65 friends & family members cheering him on in the stands (along with thousands of other fans), Bagent delivered on offense for 4 quarters in the first home win of the Bears season. If you ask me, that rules.

We’ll do Good, Bad, and Ugly later in the week. I’ll Check the Tape and get back to you.

Postgame Podcast:

Nick and I recorded a podcast where we talked through the ups, the downs, the ins, and the outs of Chicago’s big win here:

Your Turn: How do you feel about yesterday’s game?

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Checking the Tape: Bears @ Colts

| August 21st, 2023

For the first time in the Matt Eberflus era, Bears fans were forced to swallow the bitter pill of preseason defeat as Chicago fell to Indianapolis 17-24 over the weekend. The tilt saw both teams rest nearly all of their starters and many of their reserves, but a loss is a loss — with something like that hanging over fans’ heads, it’s a miracle that anyone loyal to the team made it into work today.

But setting aside the sting of defeat, what did we learn about the roster this weekend? I dove into the game’s All-22 tape and went spelunking — here’s what I found:

Guarding our Hearts:

Ja’Tyre Carter picked a great weekend to have another great weekend — with reports that Tevin Jenkins has suffered a leg injury that may shelve him for up to 6 weeks, quality OL depth looks more valuable than ever.

Carter’s form looks great in pass protection, but he’s making his hay as a run blocker and looks forceful as he does — below is a great example of Carter’s handiwork, and as Lucas Patrick continues to miss time in Training Camp I’m curious to see which young lineman the Bears turn to as the next LG.

Dropping Anchor:

Zacch Pickens took a healthy step forward in his second NFL exhibition, but he did so in a way I didn’t see coming — I expected to see him utilize his length & first step to pressure the passer and knife into run gaps, but instead he dropped anchor twice on the goal line and stood up Colts double-teams on both sides of the defensive line. As the primary backup for Andrew Billings, Pickens couldn’tve shown off a more encouraging skill.

Click the clip below to see his 2nd rep in the replies — it’s impressive stuff from a rookie known to struggle doing exactly this in college. I’d like to see him win a few more reps in run defense this weekend before making any sweeping declarations, but in the meantime it’s nice to see the Bears helping their rookies hone key skills.

Breaking Down Bagent:

Tyson Bagent will be the subject for tomorrow’s (tonight’s) Dissecting a Drive, so I won’t go into too much detail here.

That said, I put together a quick breakdown on one of my favorite of Bagent’s throws — a simple quick screen that, upon further inspection, I think Tyson audibled into. Turn your sound on for this one:

Also, given that the Bears’ QB2 looked like this on Saturday Night, Tyson’s calm demeanor couldn’tve been a more welcome sight. He’s a very fun young player to watch.

I’ll update this article throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Your Turn: What stuck out to you during Saturday Night’s game?

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Reviewing Titans @ Bears: Let’s talk Offense

| August 15th, 2023

Today we pick up where we left off yesterday as we break down Saturday’s offensive standouts. Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Editor’s Note: Check back with this article throughout the day — as I produce more All-22 cutups, I’ll update this article to include more analysis 

Carter Cruises:

  • On a day where Justin Fields didn’t throw an incomplete pass and DJ Moore scored his first touchdown in Chicago, who would’ve guessed that the man wearing #69 would’ve been one of the brightest stars on the offense? Ja’Tyre Carter showed off great footwork in both the run and pass game, great hand usage as a pass-protector, and an extra helping of violence as a combo blocker that led to a few destructive finishes.
    • Nothing dismantles an NFL offense like injuries on the offensive line, so a depth lineman like Carter playing well is the best possible thing that could’ve happened over the weekend. Time will tell if his positive play was a product of legitimate growth as a player (rather than a product of playing the Titans 2nd & 3rd string), but his game against Tennessee was a drastic step up from his late-year showing and that’s exactly what you want to see out of a second-year player.

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