DETROIT Once again the Bears managed to keep All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson from running amok in their secondary. The Detroit Lions put 327 yards on the Bears defense and converted half of their 14 third downs but needed Matthew Stafford throwing 42 times to stay close to the Bears.
DEFENSIVE LINE B-
Israel Idonijes sack and forced fumble recovered by Julius Peppers was a huge turning point in the second quarter, setting up a TD on a 10-yard drive. The rush harassed Matthew Stafford with some consistency and forced the fumble and an interception despite registering just two hits (Peppers, Corey Wootton).
Nick Roach finished with a team-high eight tackles and a pass deflection. Lance Briggs added six tackles, one for loss, and the Bears allowed no run longer than 13 yards, limited Mikel Leshoure to 57 yards on 15 carries (3.7).
The Lions found openings for a first-quarter drive that included third-down conversions but was stopped for a field goal. Consistent tackling was a problem.
Tim Jennings intercepted his ninth pass of the season in the second quarter to set up a scoring chance and the overall coverage of Calvin Johnson was excellent again. Johnson had just two catches (on eight targets) in the first half and finished with five for 72 yards and zero touchdowns, leaving him with five for the year.
The Bears offense could not put the game out of Lions reach, forcing the Bears to play under pressure throughout. Several lapses, however, allowed the Lions back into the game after falling behind 20-3 in the first half. Breakdowns on third downs were alarming.
Special teams gave the offense a gift with a fumble-recovery on a Detroit kickoff return and kicking was crucial in a surprisingly close game against a poor team.
Olindo Mare converted four of five field goal tries, missing wide right from 43 yards. Adam Podlesh was superb with four of five puts inside the 20 and one touchback, all with a 43.8-yard average.
Joe Anderson forced a fumble and is a clear favorite to land a roster spot next season, and Eric Weems recovered the ball on the first-quarter kickoff. Coverage units were in position on punts but did allow Joique Bell to average 27 yards on two kickoff returns.
Devin Hester continued his season of undistinguished returning and sometimes that would be putting it politely. His failure to get the second-half kickoff beyond the Chicago 5 was appalling and gave the Lions a shot at momentum after theyd closed the first half with a TD. Hester finished with a 19.7-yard average on kickoff returns but was no threat to the Lions.
The Bears were prepared and allowed the Lions few seams or opportunities in the return game in a game that was one-score through much of the second half.
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.
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.