Bears

First and Final Thoughts: Surely the Bears can score against Washington's defense, right?

First and Final Thoughts: Surely the Bears can score against Washington's defense, right?

Not unlike Matt Nagy and Mitch Trubisky, it's Year 2 of First and Final Thoughts. Insider JJ Stankevitz and producer Cam Ellis talk about what's on their minds between games.

Final Thoughts on Week 2

J.J. Stankevitz: It’s absolutely amazing how close the Bears were to 0-2. Like, hundredths of a second close. This can be a win that propels the Bears back into being the NFC North contenders we thought they were before the season...or it can be a sign of a tough season ahead. I still think it’s more likely than not that the Bears are a good team, and good teams can struggle to recover from starting 0-2. But 1-1 still keeps everything on the table for the Bears in 2019, even if the first two weeks weren’t pretty. The first three weeks of 2018 were overall meh and last year’s team turned out more than fine. So long story short: Just winning in Denver is all that matters in the big picture. 

Cam Ellis: It wasn't pretty, but it feels like people are understating how impressive the Bears' win was. Playing at that altitude, with temperatures around 90 degrees, is no joke. Danny Trevathan talked about how the thin air led to struggles with dry mouth, which made it tough to get calls out late in the game. Leonard Floyd dealt with it for most of the first half, and Roquan Smith slept a couple of extra hours on Monday morning. (Eddie Goldman didn't feel it at all, so shout out to him.) It's a real home-field advantage, at least in the eyes of those on the field. So many negative aspects of the Bears' season has dominated the discussion through the first two weeks, so it's worth giving the good its due. 

First Thoughts on Week 3

Stankevitz: Washington might not be as bad as folks seem to assume - they’re 15th in DVOA, only two spots behind the Bears. It’s early in the season, of course, and the Bears have a better roster. But Case Keenum and Terry McLaurin aren’t to be taken lightly, even by a defense as good as the Bears (Washington’s offense is 5th in DVOA). 

Worth noting, though: Washington’s defense is not good. They’re 28th in DVOA and were picked apart by two, admittedly, good offenses in Dallas and Philadelphia. So Monday night will be an important referendum on the Bears’ offense — if they can’t get at least 20 points on Washington’s defense, the alarm bells going off around Chicago will only grow louder. 

Ellis: The 'Skins are 2-15 on Monday Night Football since 2008. 2-15! It's as good a chance as any for Trubisky and Co. to flash signs of life, especially if Jonathan Allen isn't playing. Teams get desperate at 0-2, but the whole point of 'Nagy 202' was that the Bears were going to become the type of team that could go on the road and put away inferior teams comfortably. Nuance will be hard to come by on Tuesday morning if the offense lays another egg, but September has become such a segmented part of the NFL season that a third straight dud still wouldn't be a crisis. Still – you can tell that continually having to answer questions about 10's shortcomings is wearing Nagy thin. 

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 OverTheCap.com, 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.