Bears

Nathan Enderle draft capsule

Nathan Enderle draft capsule

Nathan Enderle, Quarterback
Height: 6-4 Weight: 240 College: Idaho
What they say about Enderle
CBSSports.com

Overview

Not many quarterbacks would earn a third year as a starter after his team went 3-21 in his first two seasons.

Idaho coaches actually brought in junior college transfer Brian Reader to compete with Enderle before the 2009 season, and Reader led the Vandals to a win over San Jose State after Enderle threw interceptions on consecutive drives. But the team stuck with the Nebraska native through the rest of the season, and the Vandals finished with a winning record (7-5) and won the Humanitarian Bowl - their first postseason appearance in 11 years.

Enderle finished high school early, but still redshirted in 2006. He earned the starting position as a redshirt freshman, and the Vandals went through growing pains with him (44.3 percent completions, 10 touchdowns, 18 interceptions).

Improvement was evident in 2008, as he completed 54.3 percent of his passes for 2,077 yards and 20 scores, but he still threw 17 picks. His maturation continued in 2009 as he completed 61.5 percent of his passes, threw for 2,906 yards and connected for 22 touchdowns against only nine interceptions.

Analysis
Accuracy: Has improved his accuracy each season, does a good job generally getting the ball where it needs to go. Can thread the needle between defensive backs over the middle. Good touch and trajectory on fade patterns in the end zone and on the sideline, puts ball where only receiver can find it. Not deadly accurate on short timing throws, however, often forcing his receivers to go low or wide. Inconsistent on purposely-thrown balls behind his receiver, will get them too close to the defender at times. Can be forced into interceptions when under pressure.

Arm Strength: Only an average arm, but still could succeed in the NFL in a patient offense staying with short and intermediate throws. Adept at making quick decisions to unload the ball. Makes shorter throws while being wrapped up by defenders or slinging the ball out under pressure, but also forces some throws in that situation. Willing to throw passes down the seam or in tight spaces, though his arm is not strong enough to beat defenders to the spot if he doesn't see them closing; this leads to interceptions. Deep ball will float, especially when his feet are not set.
SetupRelease: Looks like an NFL pocket passer. Stands tall and unloads the ball relatively quickly, with only a minor wind-up. Delivers the ball knowing he's about to take a hit. Can throw at different angles if needed. Works primarily from under center but will line up in the shotgun. Carries the ball a bit low and loose at times, defenders can easily swat it out of his hands. Must improve his footwork; takes extra steps in his drop, will jump back before planting. Regularly pats the ball before throwing. Unnecessarily stands flat-footed to throw some passes.

Reading Defenses: Long-time starter in a quasi-pro style offense, who has earned the ability to change protections and plays at the line of scrimmage. Will check down to safety valve if first option is covered. Needs to sell the ball fake more aggressively to freeze linebackers and safeties. Feels pressure well, sometimes too well; his feet get a bit happy if running out of time. Will force throws into coverage both because he doesn't see defenders and because he tries to make plays that aren't there.

On the Move: Good internal clock, counts to three and gets out of the pocket. Able to complete passes running to his left or right. Mobile enough to step up or to either side, reset, and find a target downfield. Lacks speed to break off long runs, will get a few yards if stepping up into a vacated area. Inconsistent tucking the ball away if feeling pressure and unable to throw.

Intangibles: Battle-tested, four-year starter who has seen great highs and lows during his career - and matured through the process. Honor student who graduated early from high school to attend Idaho.
Sideline Scouting

Positives: Good accuracy within short areas, can hit his receivers in stride... Quick feet, gets adequate depth in his drop steps... Intelligent, has a very high football IQ... Calls many of Idaho's plays at the line of scrimmage... Does a good job making pre-snap reads and adjustments at the line of scrimmage... Good at avoiding the blitz by stepping up into the pocket... Does a good job working the middle of the field with quick, accurate, strikes... Prototypical height and frame for an NFL quarterback... Played in a pro-style offense, knows how to take snaps under center... Should have a short learning curve in the NFL.

Negatives: Just average arm strength, looks like he'd throw harder than he does... Has some issues when throwing the deep out, defenders are able to jump on some of his throws... Struggles against top competition... In five games against BCS schools, he completed 51 percent of his passes for an average of 165 yards per game and threw only four touchdowns to 13 interceptions... Long throwing motion... Tips some of his passes off by patting the ball before he throws... Doesn't always take a stride while throwing which causes some passes to sail on him... Throws too many interceptions, needs to cut down on mental errors... Trusts his arm far too much, tries to make throws that he has no business making... Has a hard time picking up disguised blitzes and coverages... Not a great runner, is more of a pocket passer... Really a poor athlete.
Pro Football Weekly

Notes: Also played basketball and baseball and ran track as a Nebraska prep. Graduated high school early to enroll at Idaho and redshirted in 2006. Stepped into the lineup in 07 when he started all 10 games in which he played and completed 132-of-298 pass attempts (44.3 percent) for 1,787 yards with 10 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. Missed three games after rupturing a tendon in his right (throwing) hand against Hawaii. Started all 12 games in 08, tossing 184-339-2,077-20-17 (54.3). In 09, started all 11 games in which he played and completed 192-312-2,906-22-9 (61.5). Suffered a right (throwing) rotator cuff tear against Louisiana Tech and missed two games. Started all 13 games in 10 and totaled 271-478-3,314-22-16 (56.7). Team captain. Had a 17-29 career starting record. Graduated in December.

Positives: Looks the part. Outstanding size and arm strength to drive the ball into tight spaces. Extremely intelligent and has a strong understanding of the game set protection and was given reign to heavily audible at the line. Works and practices hard. Very experienced, pro-style passer. Has physical tools to develop.

Negatives: Too analytical on the field overthinks the game and lacks the innate instincts desired to become a decisive triggerman. Average poise and processing speed in the pocket holds on to the ball too long and takes needless sacks. Tends to set tall and narrow-based and footwork requires refinement. Not quick-footed to escape the rush marginal scrambling ability. Struggles to take pace off the ball and throw with touch does not toss a catchable ball. Crumbled against better competition (Nebraska, Boise State). Has a 54.6 percent career completion percentage and a 37 percent winning percentage, and it shows. Marginal weight-room worker and strength. Lacks mental toughness, confidence and the command to take charge in an NFL locker room.

Summary: A well-built, pocket-passing, four-year starter who still makes too many freshman mistakes. Looks the part on paper, but enters the NFL as very much a project with a long way to go. Has the size and arm strength to fit best into a vertical passing game, but heavy feet, inconsistent accuracy and raw decision making might keep him holding a clipboard for the next 10 years. Most comfortable when he is not on the hot seat.

NFL projection: Fifth- to sixth-round pick.

For hopeful Bears, more object lessons from NFL divisional round

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AP

For hopeful Bears, more object lessons from NFL divisional round

So another playoff weekend and with it some takeaways of greater or lesser relevance for the Bears, not so much as any sort of measuring standard for how close the Bears are or aren’t from this level of NFL play (but if you actually are wanting to keep meaningless score, the Bears did beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by more points (6) than the Jaguars did (3), and whacked Carolina by 14, while the New Orleans Saints only outscored the Panthers by 5, so… oh, never mind… .).

But in a copycat league that looks desperately for things that are working for anyone at all, the playoffs do offer some object lessons to the also-rans. Of course, pretty much like diets, most systems for doing things in the NFL all work. You just have to do them the right way and shop right. So some from along a spectrum ranging from “Huh?” to “Wow”… .

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QB acquisitions

Some playoffs make it indelibly apparent that the only route to team excellence runs through quarterbacks drafted pretty much in first rounds, not even necessarily by their playoff teams. Last year the final three (we’re not including New England here, because Tom Brady is the ultimate outlier, and he and the Patriots have been in 11 of the last 15 seasons he’s been involved) were quarterback’ed by Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Matt Ryan, all 1’s. In 2015, Cam Newton, Peyton Manning and Carson Palmer. Every year, at least two of the final four finishers are led by former No. 1’s, even going back to the Bears’ near-miss in 2010 (Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Mark Sanchez.) Plus Brady.

This year, not so much. Brady aside, two of the other three (Minnesota, Philadelphia) come in not only not with No. 1’s, but not even with intended starters – Case Keenum and Nick Foles, respectively.

A couple takeaways here:

  •       What is put around the quarterback, including coaches, is potentially everything. Jacksonville, which is riding former No. 3-overall Blake Bortles, is in the AFC title less because of Bortles than Leonard Fournette rushing for 109 yards and three touchdowns. No. 1’s are far from necessarily a winning ticket: No. 1’s Roethlisberger, Ryan and Marcus Mariota all bowed out over the weekend, along with Drew Brees (a No. 2), with only Roethlisberger losing to a quarterback drafted higher than he was (Bortles).
     
  •       The Bears are on the right track with prioritizing quarterback at No. 3/2 last draft in the form of Mitch Trubisky. And GM Ryan Pace was on another right track in making a serious play for a backup quarterback. Mike Glennon turned out not to be the right one, and coaches arguably erred in choosing him to open the season over Trubisky in an extremely close decision. But Minnesota and Philadelphia are in the NFC title game because of backup quarterbacks (Keenum, Foles), and the whole New England thing happened because Bill Belichick and the Patriots went after a quarterback in the 2000 sixth round despite having previously durable Drew Bledsoe in place.
     

Pace neglected the quarterback spot in his first two drafts before addressing it last draft with Mitch Trubisky (plus Glennon and Sanchez in free agency). For comparison purposes, Spielman drafted zero quarterbacks over his last three, but had that luxury by virtue of landing Teddy Bridgewater with his second first-rounder in 2014, and augmented that after Bridgewater’s knee injury with a trade for Sam Bradford and free-agent signing of Keenum after Bradford’s injury.

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Remember when the Bears just absolutely had to, couldn’t stay in the NFL unless they did, switch to a 3-4 scheme? All four teams in the conference championships are base 4-3 teams.

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Targeting the targets

Ryan Pace and new coach Matt Nagy, along with incoming offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, are expected to devote money and draft capital in the wide receiver spot, and not necessarily including a wideout with the No. 8 pick. Good idea. But Nagy comes from the West Coast cult of Andy Reid, and from the weekend’s divisional round, one template stands above all others:

Using the Patriots as the standard, New England had seven players this season haul in 30 or more passes (the Bears had two, Tarik Cohen and Kendall Wright). None of the seven were first-round New England picks, although the Patriots did trade a No. 1 (32nd overall) and a No. 3 to New Orleans for Brandon Cooks and a No. 4. Three of them were running backs (Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, James White) and one was a tight end (Rob Gronkowski).

Very noteworthy: Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown was a sixth-round pick and Stefon Diggs a fifth, both going to teams with histories of stocking and then stocking again and then stocking a little more at wide receiver. Diggs is one of five wide receivers taken by draft and personnel chief Rick Spielman over the past three drafts. Pace went all-in with Kevin White at No. 7 of his initial draft, but Daniel Braverman is the only other wideout drafted by Pace; over the last eight drafts, Braverman, White, Marquess Wilson and Alshon Jeffery are the extent of Bears draft capital invested at wideout.

(Brandon Marshall could be counted in there, accounting for two No. 3’s. Whether that counts as properly building through the draft, your humble and faithful narrator leaves to the reader.

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Build through the draft…mostly

Speaking of building through the draft:

Everybody talks about it and it’s certainly the ideal. But Jacksonville is a game away from the Super Bowl (No. 2 in yardage and points allowed) because of a near-historic hit rate on defense in free agency: Calais Campbell, up for defensive player of the year, plus Marcell Dareus and Malik Jackson on the defensive line; Paul Posluszny at linebacker; A.J. Bouye at cornerback; and safeties Barry Church and Tashaun Gipson.

Of course, the NFL’s No. 1 defense for points and yards allowed (Minnesota Vikings) can point to a starting unit that includes just two players (tackles Tom Johnson, Linval Joseph) who were significant pickup in free agency from other teams. Safety Andrew Zendejo was a Dallas castoff signed off the scrap heap back in 2011 but has been a Viking ever since.

Vic Fangio re-signing confirms different kind of 'aggressive' in Bears organization being built under GM Ryan Pace

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USA TODAY

Vic Fangio re-signing confirms different kind of 'aggressive' in Bears organization being built under GM Ryan Pace

Pulling the camera back for a wide-angle shot:

As with so many of the actions being taken by the Bears in less than two weeks of offseason, the retaining of Vic Fangio to serve on coach Matt Nagy’s staff is worth a broader look for what it represents as part of the greater whole being attempted by GM Ryan Pace. More on that in a moment.

What Fangio immediately underscores is a mutual comfort level between a very senior elite defensive coach with a young first-time head coach. Irrespective of what Fangio’s market was or wasn’t, based on jobs opening or closing, and that his players publicly and privately were lobbying for him to be rehired, the Bears ultimately needed to convince Fangio that their organization was a fit for him, even as they were telling him that he was never going to be their head coach.

What Nagy has done in the span of four days is validate Pace’s feeling that this 39-year-old with limited experience as a coordinator had a vision for a support staff and the right stuff to pull it off. Landing all three coordinators within four days of his own hiring may not be hiring record but is head-turning impressive for a guy who’s never done this before.

Getting the Fangio deal done (exact details of the three-year pact will be coming out) makes apparent that Pace has empowered Nagy (and Bears senior management doing the same for Pace) to get major moves done. Coaches have a budget for assistants, and Fangio had been seeking a deal that would make him the NFL’s highest-paid coordinator, sources said. Whether that did happen isn’t important; Nagy didn’t convince Fangio to stay with only upbeat talk. Pace gave him the budget.

The overall is what is intriguing here. When Pace brought in John Fox, one of the presumed positives was the pairing of a proven veteran coach with a young boss (Pace) in charge of football ops. The results weren’t what either wanted, but the relationship never flagged and Pace is the better for it. Now the template is used a second time; a veteran defensive coordinator (the de facto head coach of the defense) who gives his boss a backstop and kind of a mentor.

But if Fox was much, much more than just an interim solution, Pace’s plan was for immediate franchise rescue from the Marc Trestman ennui. Fox in fact did accomplish a lot of that, certainly with a Bears defense that had reached a historic nadir under Mel Tucker. And that was under Fangio (whose relationship with Fox was never as caustic as outsiders depicted; as one source close to both said, “Vic is a crusty tough guy; so is Foxy. Foxy didn’t hire him to be some sort of drinking pal.”)

Fox for Pace in some respects did represent a bridge of sorts with an expiration date if only because he’s in his 60’s. Regardless, when Pace took the Chicago job, the ideal always was to be successful enough to hire a second coach during his GM tenure. The way this came about (three double-digit-loss seasons, firing Fox after three years) was anything but how this was supposed to go, but Fox was in fact signed for four years, not five.

So Pace, now with three years of GM seasoning himself, hires a head coach that is very much akin to the kind of action Pace took to address his quarterback position, with a less-experienced individual but with Pace views as true upside.

And “upside” is a constant target with Pace, who clearly is not averse to going all in big-time for upside (Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky, Matt Nagy, Pernell McPhee). Organizations take their character and personality from the top, and the Bears football operation is being handled with an aggressive streak, whether financially in coach contracts (Fangio) or player acquisition.

This, more than Pace’s arrival three years ago, is the real beginning.