Bears

Adrian Amos is giving the Bears an amazing bang for their buck this year

Adrian Amos is giving the Bears an amazing bang for their buck this year

In terms of bang for their buck, the Bears have — at least, according to Pro Football Focus — the most valuable “cheap” player in the NFL. And he wasn’t even starting when the season began. 

That player is safety Adrian Amos, who Pro Football Focus rates as the second-best safety in the NFL. One-hundred and six safeties make more money than Amos, a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft whose cap hit is $673,070 this year, according to Spotrac. 

Even if you hold some skepticism for PFF’s grading system, Amos’ success this year has been clear. The 24-year-old is third on the Bears with 32 tackles, four tackles for a loss and three pass break-ups despite playing one defensive snap in Weeks 1 and 2. He forced and recovered a critical fumble against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday and had a 90-yard pick six against the Baltimore Ravens, but has been generally solid both in run support and against the pass since taking over for an injured Quintin Demps in September. 

“I think he’s on the proper path,” defensive backs coach Ed Donatell said. “He came back really focused in camp and working hard and he wasn’t starting at first but he was really in tune as a backup, and then he got his shot. His game, everybody can see it, it’s better in all areas.”

The Bears signed Demps to a three-year deal and used a fourth-round pick on Eddie Jackson earlier this year as part of the team’s efforts to overhaul a secondary that didn’t make enough plays in 2016. Amos was part of that takeaway problem last year, and before he picked off that pass in Baltimore, he had played about 2,000 career snaps without an interception. 

But credit should be given to Amos for, by all accounts, taking the right approach to losing his starting gig to Jackson and Demps. Not only has Amos ably replaced Demps in the Bears’ starting lineup, he might actually represent an upgrade alongside Jackson. 

“He’s a very prideful kid,” Donatell said. “He works hard and he wants to be a good pro. Safeties are pairs. Him and Eddie have blended together really well, they work together, they communicate. They have a good presence of each other, and that’s really important.”

Amos played every single defensive snap the Bears had in October, all while continuing to play on special teams (it was Amos who checked into Pat O’Donnell’s fake punt touchdown to Benny Cunningham Oct. 9 against the Minnesota Vikings). He hasn’t been satisfied with his performance — he pointed to some missed tackles he had against New Orleans, which he recognized were a problem and separate from the fumble he forced. 

“This past game, I feel like this wasn’t one of my best games, but I got a turnover, so it makes it look better from the outside-in,” Amos said. “But me, myself, I look at how I’m playing each and every day, am I making my tackles, making my adjustments, am I solid in my fits. Stats look good at the end of the day, but I try to look at where I can be better individually.”

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: Bears prop bets (and a bold Mitch Trubisky prediction)

JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis and Paul Aspan wonder if John Fox had a point about the Bears having the worst offseason in the NFL (1:00), then offer up some prop bets for the Bears in 2019 involving Eloy Jimenez's home runs and Khalil Mack's sacks (5:00), undrafted free agent rookies making the roster (10:00), when/if the Bears will cut a kicker during the season (12:45), running back production (16:30) and how many games Adam Shaheen will play (25:50).

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Under Center Podcast

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Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

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USA Today

Bears summer prop bets: Eloy home runs vs. Bears sacks and others

With over a month until football comes back for Bears training camp, JJ Stankevitz, Cam Ellis & Paul Aspan are killing that time on the latest Under Center podcast by taking a way too early look at some fun Bears prop bets. Here are some of their favorites that they discussed and a couple bonus props.

Eloy HR vs. Akiem Hicks + Khalil Mack + Roquan Smith sacks

Well, That. Was. Awesome.

As far as Crosstown moments go, Eloy’s 9th inning go-ahead home run immediately jumps into AJ vs Barrett territory. Dude broke his bat and still managed to (momentarily) crush one entire fan base while convincing another the rebuild has turned a corner. Poor Jose Quintana. He never had a chance.

With his absurd hot streak of six home runs in his last nine games, Eloy now has 12 homers in 47 games which skews his pace to about one every four games. With 91 games remaining that would put his season total around 34, but it’s safe to say he’s at least in the 25-30 HR neighborhood. Now if they keep throwing Eloy inside fastballs, Akiem Hicks & Khalil Mack could each pass Michael Strahan’s single season sack record of 22.5 and it won’t matter.

As for Hicks, Mack and Roquan Smith, might as well dub them the HMS trio with a trip to London on tap. Those three combined for 25 sacks in 2018 and with five sacks thru the first four games of 2018, it looked like Mack might have a real chance to threaten Strahan’s mark on his own. But then injuries, triple teams and the constant adjustment / readjustment nature of the NFL by opposing offenses held Mack to 7.5 sacks in the final 10 games he played, even if we can all agree he deserved at least two more for this.

Hicks tallied 7.5 sacks and shows no signs of slowing down, so a double digit sack season for him seems to be well within reach. And Smith’s sneaky five sack total in his rookie season will likely only increase with Chuck Pagano’s penchant to blitz and ‘wreak havoc.’

This is a total coin flip, so while you contemplate, let’s go back to the latest, greatest moment in this Crosstown rivalry:

Ozzie is the freakin’ best.

Eloy was probably thinking of that moment on this entire drive up to Wrigley Field Tuesday.

And salty Cubs twitter is (are?) my favorite Cubs fans.

Relax, I’m putting you guys in the World Series later, so take it easy.

Do the Bears cut their kicker before or after their Week 6 Bye?

At least give me some credit for not leading with the obvious kicker prop.

This bet starts with the Week 1 kickoff, because based on what we’ve seen from this ‘oh this is fun --- wait they’re still in real trouble’ kicker competition, who knows if the Bears are still playing kicker roulette leading up to the opener. At first I had this at Week 3, but that puts us all in a world of despair that we don’t want to imagine.

The original prop I...um...proposed...earlier this offseason on the podcast was Over/Under: 2.5 Bears kickers during the regular season. Two kickers seem all too likely while anything over that spells disaster, so we’ll make this more of a timing thing. Which doesn’t really make it any better.

An early season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould will send the fan base into a panic. A late season change that involves anything other than a trade for Robbie Gould? Much worse.

Oh, you want to bet that they’ll stick with one kicker all season? It won’t be hard to find someone to take that bet. Just make sure you get like 5-1 odds to make it worthwhile.

Will Trubisky throw 10 more touchdowns than Craig Kimbrel has saves? (including playoffs for both)

Here’s how this one breaks down by the numbers

Note: “by the numbers” in no way means these have been calculated by any sort of algorithm, python or R - you’ll need to find someone much smarter than me for that kind of data analysis. I’m pro-analytics but I would hope I’d be in a front office if I had that kind of brain power.

Trubisky had 24 passing touchdowns in 14 games last season and we have to account for some growth in his second year in Nagy’s system so let’s give him 30 TD in 2019. Over the last four seasons, Kimbrel has averaged right around 36 saves per season, so let’s cut that in half to 18. And also use it as an excuse to show this again.

The wrinkle in this one is the playoffs. If the Cubs are going to make a deep playoff run, they’re gonna need Kimbrel to shut the door, conservatively, every other game. 11 wins for a World Series, so let’s (once again conservatively, we know how Joe Maddon likes to use his closer) say at least 6 saves.

I know how much Bears fans don’t want to hear the Jared Goff - Trubisky comparisons, but for this example, just hear me out -  it makes sense!

Goff got the Rams to the Super Bowl (or the Rams got Goff to the Super Bowl??), with the former first overall pick throwing one total touchdown pass in the playoffs. Based off that blueprint - and mix in a Freezer Left or a Chicago Special -  it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility that the Bears could do the same without needing Trubisky to throw more than one touchdown pass in each playoff game. So we’re right in the range of 34 TD to 24 saves.

Stop yelling at me about not automatically assuming Trubisky is gonna be better than Goff. This is a good thing! We’re talking about the possibility of a Cubs World Series & a Bears Super Bowl.

Will the Bears have twice as many sacks vs Rodgers, Stafford & Cousins as those three QBs have passing TD vs the Bears?

I was going to make this a straight up prop of sacks vs touchdowns until I went back and looked at the numbers from their six games last season again.

Bears sacks vs Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford:                                    21!!!

Rodgers, Cousins & Stafford total passing TD vs Bears                    8

We have to account for some regression here, as the Bears sacked Stafford six times in a single game and Rodgers five times in a single game. I also can’t bank on the Bears D to keep this trio completely out of the end zone in two of the six games as they did in 2018.

Boil it down and the Bears averaged 3.5 sacks per game against their NFC North foes and that’s a tall order to run back in 2019. But even if the Bears replicate that, I’m gonna take the three princes of the north to throw 2 TD per game, which leaves the final count at 21 Bears sacks vs 12 passing TD.

Will the Blackhawks & Bulls combine for more total wins than Trubisky’s lowest passer rating this coming season?

For those of us who need want a little action on the back burner thru football season, March Madness, the start of next baseball season, the Masters, and want to (hopefully) sweat it out all the way until the end of the next NBA & NHL regular seasons.

The Hawks (36 wins) and Bulls (22 wins) combined for 58 total wins last season. Mitch turned in a total clunker against the Rams (33.3 passer rating), so if that happens, the Hawks & Bulls are probably - probably -  a safe bet.

But if you throw out that Rams game, Mitch’s 2nd lowest passer rating of 2018 was the week before, against the Vikings, when he posted a 61.9 rating (hey, they won!). Even allowing for the most optimistic of Trubisky growth spurts in his 2nd season under Matt Nagy, if ya threaten everyone at Halas Hall with a couple of Malort shots, even they would admit Mitch is gonna have at least one bad game next season.

If that (foul tasting) *hiccup* is in the 60-65 passer rating range (or if you’re optimistic about the Blackhawks & Bulls - let’s say  65-75 range) this could be an all the way down to the Bulls and Hawks final games next April, wager.

Ah April...just like June...when it’s still cloudy. Rainy. And we’re stuck inside coming up with ridiculous prop bets because it feels like summer will never show up, ever again.

Bears regular season wins vs Cubs playoff wins

Hey, if the Bears are going 12-4 again, this one is easy. This is also easy if you’re a White Sox fan who will obviously take the Bears. But whatcha thinking Cubs fans? 11 wins for a World Series...I gotta proposition for ya! (RIP Prop Joe, still too soon.)