2020 Bears schedule: Texans’ Deshaun Watson makes first trip to Chicago

2020 Bears schedule: Texans’ Deshaun Watson makes first trip to Chicago

The Game
The Bears will face the Houston Texans and, for the first time, QB Deshaun Watson in Week 14 at Soldier Field. The last time these two teams met, the Bears lost 23-14 in Houston on September 11, 2016 in a game started by Jay Cutler and Brock Osweiler. To date, the Texans are the only active franchise the Bears have never beaten.

Player to Watch
Watson will present an interesting “road not taken” matchup after the Bears passed on him in the 2017 Draft, as he’s thrown for nearly 10,000 yards and 71 TD thus far in his promising career. He added some fuel to the fire recently by claiming the Bears never talked to him in the lead-up to that draft, and will certainly come to Chicago properly motivated to show up the team that passed on him three years ago.

Additions & Subtractions
Head coach and GM Bill O’Brien authored one of the more perplexing offseasons in the league. Gone is superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a stunning trade with Arizona, and in his place Houston brought in injury-prone running back David Johnson, plus receivers Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb. Intriguing 2020 second-round draft pick Ross Blacklock could make an instant impact on the defensive line alongside JJ Watt, potentially giving the Texans a potent combo for opposing offenses to handle.

Key Storyline
Will the Hopkins trade come back to bite the Texans? It remains to be seen whether O’Brien read the tea leaves correctly in dealing their star receiver when he still had three years remaining on his contract, but Houston will look to build upon two-straight division titles anchored by Watson and a defense which ranked fifth in the league in yards allowed per game last season.

RELATED: Deshaun Watson's still angry about Bears' lack of pre-draft interest in 2017

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Bears' offense ranks among the NFL's worst analytically, new study finds

Bears' offense ranks among the NFL's worst analytically, new study finds

The Bears' offense was bad last year. I know that. You know that. The Bears (hopefully?) know that. 

But *extremely 30 For 30 voice* what if I told you just how bad they really were? Would you be interested in that? You wouldn't be? Sorry, got a quota to hit. 

In a fascinating new study written by Rotoworld's Hayden Weeks, the lack of modern wrinkles in Chicago's offense are made painstakingly clear. Weeks took an analytically-slanted look at every NFL offense, and friends, it's a rough read: 

4th Down Aggressiveness: 23rd
Pass Rate on Early Downs: 9th
Pass Rate While Trailing: 13th
Play-Action Rate: 27th
Downfield Pass Rate: 16th
Middle of the Field Pass Rate: 5th
Pre-Snap Motion Percentage: 30th
Outside Run Rate: 20th
Shotgun Run Rate: 5th
Offensive Pace: 22nd

Overall, Weeks ranks the Bears as the 22nd best offense in football based on the above metrics. If there's any hope whatsoever, it comes from his short write up of Nagy's offense – but still, temper your expectations: 

If I incorporated the front office, the Bears would be much lower, but I think Nagy holds his own in terms of in-game analytics usage. He’s just been dealt a horrible hand at quarterback and with the offensive line. Nagy opted for a decent pass rate on early downs (9th) and while trailing (13th), plus uses shotgun a lot and targets the middle of the field (5th). There are a few things holding him back from jumping into Tier 3, however. The Bears weren’t aggressive enough on fourth downs (23rd) and didn't use play action (27th) or pre-snap motion (30th) nearly enough. Maybe the quarterback change sparks change.

Bears: Use play action! Just try it! I promise you'll like it. 

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Did Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes' mega-deal actually leave money on table?

Patrick Mahomes forever altered the sports contract landscape with his landmark 10-year, $450 million extension that became official this week. It made all the sense in the world to lock up the 2018 MVP whose team could very easily be coming off back-to-back Super Bowl titles if not for a nail-biting loss to the eventual-champion Patriots in the 2019 AFC Championship game. But Brad Spielberger, who does extensive salary cap research and writing for, believes Mahomes could have massively cashed in again if he took a different approach to these negotiations

Coming in, we knew this was going to be a groundbreaking deal in some respects... I really didn’t think he was going to give up that many years of control – it’s basically a lifetime contract. Again, I know it’s maybe up to half a billion dollars, so it sounds crazy to maybe question his thinking there, but in 5, 6, 7 years down the road, he probably could have gotten another deal that would have made this one look small in comparison.

Every team in the league would love this deal… every front office in the NFL would say, the fact that they have this much time on this deal is the best part about it. Again, it’s a monstrous deal and there are outs at certain points so it’s not so strict as to say he can’t get out of it or he can’t work with it. If I’m his agent, I would push for 5 years, $200M fully guaranteed; let’s go mega-Kirk Cousins on steroids, let’s change the game, and then let’s see if we can sign a deal for $50M a year when that one runs out.

The scenario painted there is an interesting one, and might have allowed Mahomes to reset the quarterback market twice in a decade… but we’ll never know. For more from Spielberger, including how the Mahomes deal impacts the Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson negotiations and what the Bears’ offseason moves tell him about the mindset of Ryan Pace’s front office, listen to the most recent edition of the Under Center podcast here or below.