Bears

Bears extend Ryan Pace through 2021 season

Bears extend Ryan Pace through 2021 season

Ryan Pace not only survived this Black Monday, he also all but guaranteed he'll survive a few more at Halas Hall. 

The Bears GM signed a contract extension through the 2021 season, Ted Phillips announced at the end of season press conference. 

Phillips, who's been the franchise's president since 1999, lauded Pace's communication, talent evaluation and draft skills. He also made mention of how Pace was putting the team in position to be sustainably competitive. 

"We're still committed to that plan dispite our disappointing win-loss record over the last three seasons," Phillips said. 

In Pace's three years as GM, the Bears have gone 14-34. 

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Redskins

Three keys and prediction: Bears vs. Redskins

1. Don’t let it come down to a kick. Eddy Pineiro’s surprise inclusion on Saturday’s injury report, and official “questionable” status, does leave open the possibility the Bears don’t have a kicker on Monday night. Matt Nagy sounded optimistic about Pineiro’s injury being "minor" and having him available at FedEx Field, but the best thing the Bears can do is make sure they don’t desperately need their kicker to win (as they did last week).

Maybe Pineiro plays, maybe he doesn’t. But this is more of a general key: The Bears need roster talent advantage to take over on Monday night. Pineiro proved he can make the big kick last week, but if he’s at all banged up, it would be best to make sure he doesn’t need to make a kick to win at the end.

2. Hit intermediate throws and downfield shots. The Bears’ offensive line righted itself last week in Denver after a rough beginning of the season, and should provide ample time for Mitch Trubisky to push the ball downfield. Washington only has two sacks and 20 total pressures this year, and doesn’t have the talent in its secondary — even with big names like Josh Norman and Landon Collins — to make plays downfield. 

To wit: Carson Wentz completed six of eight intermediate throws (traveling 10-20 yards beyond the line of scrimmage) and threw two touchdowns on passes traveling 20 yards or more beyond the line of scrimmage. A week later, Dak Prescott completed all six of his intermediate throws and hucked a touchdown on a deep ball.

Prescott and Wentz have, of course, looked much better than Trubisky over the first two weeks of the season. But at the very least, the opportunities for Trubisky to push the ball downfield should be there. The 2017 No. 2 overall pick needs to take advantage of those openings when they present themselves.

Succeeding here will require a good run-pass balance, though, because while Washington hasn’t got much out of their pass rush it does feature four former first-round picks (Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen — provided Allen plays) who can still get after a quarterback if a passing play becomes obvious.

3. Don’t get beat on play action. While Washington has one of the NFL’s worst rushing offenses (ranking 30th in yards per rush and rushing yards per game), Case Keenum has been one of the NFL’s most effective quarterbacks when using play action. Rookie receiver Terry McLaurin is a legitimate deep threat of whom Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will need to be aware. 

But the Bears’ defense is outstanding, and should be able to generate pressure on Keenum against an offensive line missing holdout left tackle Trent Williams. That could help keep a lid on Washington's offense, which ranks fifth in DVOA, just as effectively as Jackson and Clinton-Dix could. 

Prediction: Bears 20, Redskins 17. For those hoping Monday night will be the breakout game for the Bears’ offense, they’ll still be waiting. Washington’s defense isn’t very good, and the crowd atmosphere at FedEx Field won’t intimidate anyone on the Bears’ sideline. But this is still a road game, and the Bears only won one road game by more than a touchdown in 2018 (against a Buffalo Bills team quarterbacked by Nathan Peterman).

The expectation, though, is for the Bears’ offense to be better than it was in Weeks 1 and 2. That may not lead to a 2018-Week-4 level of explosion, but merely getting to 20 points would represent progress for this offense. What’ll be key, though: The Bears’ defense will force multiple takeaways, offsetting a handful of big plays made by Case Keenum and helping secure a narrow victory in Maryland. 

Bear PAWS: Hitting 30 key for Bears against Washington in Week 3

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USA TODAY

Bear PAWS: Hitting 30 key for Bears against Washington in Week 3

Thirty is one of those milestone numbers in life where people feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. For most, reaching 30 years in age signals an advanced maturity towards accountability and a mastering of destinies.

Sports, being extremely reflective of society, mirrors the notion of 30 as a noteworthy number. For example, once a baseball player attains membership in the “30-30 club” – hitting 30 home runs and stealing 30 bases – his status elevates among other major leaguers.

Conversely, depending on the circumstances, 30 sometimes has negative implications attached to it. For instance, once NFL running backs hit the age of 30, conventional wisdom speculates that his skills will erode, making him less effective.

This week, as far as the Washington Redskins are concerned, the number 30 represents a level of futility and ineffectiveness that’s led to two losses and zero wins this season. Let’s use P.A.W.S. (Predictive Analysis With Stats) to sift through the ebb and flow of 30 and how it affects this week’s contest between Chicago and Washington.

Washington hired Jay Gruden to be its head coach in 2014, and have since amassed a 35–46-1 record, with one playoff loss. Overall, Gruden has coached in 83 games but, unfortunately for the Redskins, they’ve lost 30.1 percent of those games after allowing teams to score 30 or more points. Yes, typically, any NFL team giving up 30 points in a game all but insures the likelihood of a frustrating loss.

For the past 3 seasons, the league average for losing games after giving up 30 points is 20.4 percent, and only five teams are at 30 percent or higher. Only one of those five teams made a playoff appearance within those three years, the 2016 Miami Dolphins. Since 2016, every team in the NFC East from Dallas (11.8 percent), to Philadelphia (3.8 percent), and the New York Giants (18.4 percent) are below the league average in games lost by allowing 30 points or more.

Washington’s defense is so bad it’s offensive. Speaking of offenses, last season in games where the Redskins lost giving up 30 or more points, their opponents averaged 436 yards per game. The NFL average for yards allowed per contest last year was at 352.2, and this season it’s increased by a few to 356.2 yards a game. The Redskins are even worse so far in this campaign, giving up 455 yards per game, essentially 100 yards more than the league average.

Another strong contributor to Washington’s ineffectiveness is their turnover to takeaway numbers. Since Gruden’s arrival in 2014, the Redskins have turned the ball over 52 times, while only taking it away 22 times for a minus-30 margin.

Going by the Redskins’ pathetic defensive output, this should be an easy win for the Bears, right?

Not so fast - as inept as Washington’s defense has been, Chicago’s offense has been equally futile. Mitchell Trubisky is ranked 28th in the league in passing yards, and has only completed 58.3 percent of his attempts with no touchdown passes. Chicago is scoring less than 10 points per game and most of those scores are from their kicker, Eddy Pineiro.

Washington, on the other hand, has its QB Case Keenum completing 69.1 percent of his passes with five touchdowns thrown to zero interceptions. Plus, the Redskins under Gruden have never allowed 30 points scored against for 3 consecutive weeks. Through the first two weeks, Washington has given up 32 and 31 points, respectively.

The Bears’ offensive scoring issues are not a recent phenomenon, because looking back over the last three games played, they only tallied 34 points combined. That's under 12 points a game. The Bears, and specifically Trubisky, need to take advantage of a porous Redskin defense and “get right” sooner than later. The Bears’ defense is among the top-3 in several categories, and should stymie Keenum and the Redskins offense enough to give Trubisky plenty of opportunities to score.

The Bears will win if…

  • The offense can match or exceed the league average of 356.2 yards total offense per game. The Redskins are giving up 455 yards on average this season
  • The defense continues suffocating offenses, not allowing more than 12 points per contest
  • The defense can force any turnover to give a struggling offense a shorter field to traverse for an easy score

 

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