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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Opinionating: 10 Thoughts on the Bears and Beyond, Week 2

1) Looking at the stats from the first two games, one thing really jumps out: Marc Trestman likes to soften the defense up with runs and short passes before going for the big play in the second half.

Cutler is 23/38 (60.5%) for 224 yards in the first half, averaging just 5.9 YPA (although he has a 3-1 TD:INT ratio and a 92.4 first half QB rating, so I'd still say he's been pretty effective). Forte has had 25 rushes in the first half vs. 13 in the second.

In the second half Jay is 26/34 for 308 YDs (76.5%) and averaging 9.06 YPA with a 98.7 rating. It's encouraging that his completion % has actually gone Up as the team has gone deeper downfield later in games. As we saw with the game-winning TD to Bennett and Cutler's mention that they had run that same route combination 3 or 4 times in the game already, it seems so far that Trestman understands how to probe for weaknesses in a defense and exploit them late.

2) Okay, looking at the stats two things stand out, and the other one is that Jay has been sacked 1 time in 78 dropbacks (6 scrambles for 25 yards) against two solid pass-rushes. That's still mind-boggling to me.

3) Woah, the Bears ran a successful end-around. After seeing this team fail for Years at desperately trying to force a big play on a Hester end-around, it was nice to see Jeffery break a big one. Trestman had been trying to set that up for a while by sending Jeffery in motion quite a bit, including on the wheel route he ran against the Bengals where Jay hit him for 12 yards through the air. That said, I hope they don't go crazy with it, since it backfired on them later.

4) Good pass protection requires the right mix of talent on the line, play-calling, and smart quarterback play, and right now the Bears have gotten all three. Jay hasn't been entirely smart of course as far as ball security, but he has been very conscious about getting the ball out quickly and has made quick decisions about when to escape the pocket to buy time or scramble. Both Jordan Mills and Bushrod struggled at times, but got the help they needed from the coaches, Jay, and a strong showing by the interior (Garza, Long, and Slauson all graded out positively from PFF). Nobody has to play a perfect game every week, but that combination can keep this team from avoiding the massive, systemic breakdowns that plagued previous incarnations.

5) God, all that crap about Marshall's hip seems even dumber than it did at the time, doesn't it? If that hip is bothering him that much and he's still managed to haul in 75% of his targets for 217 yards in two games, I can't wait to see what he can do as he gets healthier.

6)Ron Rivera is a goddamn disaster of a head coach. The Panthers are 2-14 in games decided by a TD or less in Rivera's tenure. Historically speaking, teams tend to even out from year to year in terms of close wins and losses, as random chance plays a large role in determining tight games. Rivera somehow manages to defy that by being horribly inept at making decisions late in games. Twice now he could have won games by running a sneak with CAM NEWTON and opted not to.

7) I was so utterly unsurprised by Reggie Bush doing nothing in his second game as a Lion it hurts. Every year, whether the back is Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith, or Mikel LeShoure, the Lions get a great game from their runningback and people freak out, ignoring the fact that Scott Linehan is obsessed with Stafford's arm and will gladly abandon the run in favor of a one-dimensional attack the second it shows even a hint of a struggle. Bush's injury is no excuse for Linehan, either. Bell is a perfectly capable back up. Linehan just won't commit to it.

8) Are the Vikings the luckiest 0-2 team in history? The Lions had a TD catch overturned on the Calvin Johnson Rule, a pick six nullified by a penalty, and botched a field goal attempt to keep a ten point win from being even bigger. The Bears gave up their first kickoff return TD in six years, allowed a fumble return for a TD, and gave away first and goal at the one with an interception on a tipped ball. Minnesota is 0-2 by a margin of 11 points, but seems far worse than that in all honesty.

9) Woah, a Ted Ginn sighting. Whenever Ginn does anything, I'm reminded that the Dolphins used a first round pick on him because they hoped he'd be the next Devin Hester. When you consider that he's been worse than Hester at both returning (not a surprise) and as a receiver (Jesus, Ted, that's sad), and also take in to account just some of the guys the Dolphins passed on in that first round alone (Patrick Willis, Marshawn Lynch, Darrelle Revis, Lawrence Timmons, Dwayne Bowe, Joe Staley, or even Greg f*&king Olsen) that's got to be one of the dumbest picks ever, even by recent Dolphin standards.

10) Okay, I might be wrong about EJ Manuel. Fourth quarter comebacks against Ron Rivera's Panthers are so easy at this point as to barely count (Why cover Stevie Johnson? No chance Manuel looks for his number one receiver on the final play of a game!), but Manuel has looked very good so far. The Bills are leaning on the run game and not asking Manuel to make the big play (just 6.8 YPA), but he has yet to look like the QB who melted down against tough defenses like Florida in college. I'm still not sure how high is ceiling is, but as Iggins! said, he looks at least like might be David Garrard-ish (we also came up with Jeff Garcia as a possible comparison before you accuse us of doing the full Nolan Nawrocki!).

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