Bears

Bears' Moore quickly becoming an impact player

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Bears' Moore quickly becoming an impact player

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
Posted: 1:15 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

Sometimes it really is all in your head. It certainly was with D.J. Moore.

After a virtually invisible rookie season, the former Vanderbilt All-American has emerged as an impact player in the Bears' nickel packages. He had six solo tackles, one for loss, against Philadelphia, and followed that with another half-dozen (three solo, three assists) in Detroit, plus a sack shared with Brian Urlacher, another tackle for loss, a quarterback hit and a pass deflection.

Moore also is among league leaders with four interceptions.

It is a borderline-remarkable turnaround for a fourth-round draft choice from a rookie in which he played in only three games and then mostly on special teams. And that was an especially painful comedown after playing in 37 SEC games for Vanderbilt, starting 34, and being voted All-SEC as both a sophomore and a junior.

Moore didn't exactly pout but his attitude was ultimately as much a problem as anything else.

"I was mad last year," Moore admitted. "I didn't play and I knew I was good, so I was upset. You've just got to work hard and wait for the coach to put you out there. Learned just working hard, just not taking everything.

"I was so upset last year. I don't know what to tell you. Everything. I was mad at everybody and I probably should've been mad at myself for not working hard enough."

Not even one-on-one coaching from former defensive back Lovie Smith was enough to get his head facing in the right direction.

"I think sometimes you've just got to wait and I had a little different attitude last year," Moore said. "I think I could've played last year but sometimes you've got to wait when it's not your time."

Feeling a draft?

What's a little notable with New England is how the organization built its offensive line, the one that takes awfully good care of Tom Brady, himself a sixth-round draft choice an NFL long time ago. The Patriots have a No. 1 at left guard (same as the Bears; OK, so that wasn't the original idea with Chris Williams, but stay with me on the overall) in Logan Mankins.

Their center, Dan Koppen, was a fifth-round pick, same as Bears left tackle Frank Omiyale.

But New England spent No. 2's on right tackle Sebastian Vollmer and left tackle Matt Light. Omiyale is turning out to be arguably the best personnel nugget since Roberto Garza, but both of them were acquired via free agency and right tackle J'Marcus Webb, who may turn out to be the nugget of the 2010 draft someday, was a seventh-rounder.

A No. 1 and two No. 2's out of five starting positions: Is that one explanation behind the long-term New England excellence on offense besides simply Brady? You decide.

But while you're thinking about it, consider this: New England could have three first-round picks in the next draft. The Patriots have their own No. 1 plus the Oakland Raiders' No. 1 via the Richard Seymour deal. And they hold Carolina's second-round pick, which right now (with the Panthers at 1-11) is the first pick of the second round.

New England with three picks in the first 33, after finagling eight trades around the 2009 draft and seven this past draft -- the word you're looking for is "scary."
Big numbers

Coaches look at turnovers as a defining game statistic. The Bears continue to make significant achievements in two others regarded as key.

The offense converted 5 of 9 third downs against the Lions after just 3 of 10 vs. Philadelphia. In their five-game winning streak since the off week, the Bears have converted 36 of 68, nearly 53 percent.

As important, the Bears scored touchdowns on all three of their red-zone possessions, an area of serious concern earlier this season. The 3-for-3 day follows a 3-for-4 against Philadelphia. Since the off week they have scored touchdowns on 9 of 13 red-zone possessions and field goals on two others (vs. Minnesota).
Really big numbers

The Bears had to deal with Michael Vick two games ago and now they draw another top-rated quarterback in Tom Brady, leading the NFL with a passer rating of 109.4. Brady has thrown 27 touchdown passes and only four interceptions and is sacked only once every 22.4 pass plays.

By comparison, Jay Cutler has been sacked once every 8.8 pass plays.

"Tom Brady is a future hall of famer, maybe a first-ballot guy when he's finished playing," said safety Chris Harris. "He's arguably the greatest quarterback in the league."

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

Tight ends and all things “timing” will change in Matt Nagy Bears West Coast offense

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USA TODAY

Tight ends and all things “timing” will change in Matt Nagy Bears West Coast offense

Second of two parts

Looking ahead to training camp and what everyone will be looking at – it will help to have even a cursory idea of the offensive elements that coach Matt Nagy is incorporating, particularly in the passing game -- because the when, where and how the Bears will be throwing the football is changing. NBC Sports Chicago focuses on a selection of specifics and their origins within that part of the offense that fans will notice, first in Bourbonnais and then in the 2018 season.

Bill Walsh wrote and always insisted that the tight end was the least understood central pillar in his offense. He viewed and used the tight end as a receiver rather than simply an extra offensive lineman, and used the position to exploit matchup problems and open areas of the field created by design.

In a bit of fortuitous timing, the Bears signed and drafted tight ends (Adam Shaheen, Dion Sims) a year in advance of Matt Nagy’s arrival. But how those tight ends project to be used will be substantially changed from their functions last year. The best indication came this offseason when yet another tight end was brought in, one that signaled a critical direction change coming to the Chicago offense.

The Bears invested heavily to land smallish ex-Philadelphia tight end Trey Burton this offseason. He fits a Nagy template.

“He understands this offense and what to do, so there’s not a lot of mistakes,” Nagy said. “When guys see that you’re a player that has experience in this offense and does things the right way, they really gravitate towards that style of leadership. It’s been everything and more with what we thought with Trey.”

In eight of the last nine years Nagy was with Reid, the tight end (Brent Celek in Philadelphia, Travis Kelce in Kansas City) was either the leading or second-leading receiver on the roster.

In the last 37 years, since Emery Moorehead (No. 2, 1985), the Bears have been led in receptions by a tight end just once (Greg Olsen, 2009) or had a tight end No. 2 in catches just three other times (Olsen, 2008, Martellus Bennett 2014-15).

Receiver additions Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson notwithstanding, the role of the tight end in a Bears offense is about to change. Dramatically. And it started literally before Nagy even arrived in Chicago.

“Our first conversation when [Nagy and Pace] were on the plane heading to Chicago the day that I was hired, we discussed that ‘U’ position, the position that we know in Kansas City and we use in Kansas City as kind of the wide receiver/tight end,” Nagy said. “And you play the slot position you can move around, do different things — it’s what we did with Kelce.”

New meaning for “timing” in pass game

Trubisky’s mobility creates a greater threat in action passes and within run-pass options, if only because Trubisky can and will take off with purpose, even as Nagy, Helfrich and QB coach Dave Ragone drill one phrase into the quarterback’s brain: “Get down!”

“We don’t do that all the time but that’s kind of your ‘ball control,’” Nagy said. “There is a mentality that might be a little different in how we’re trying to be aggressive, too. In the classic West Coast there were still times where they were looking to be aggressive and we want that mindset.”

More than that, however, is the threat that play-calling versatility posed by Nagy’s offense. What jumps out is the play-calling balance on first downs:

 

2017 first downs

 

Run/pass ratio (%)

Bears        Chiefs

59/41        51.1/48.9 

 

Yards per carry

Bears        Chiefs

4.1             4.6

 

Completion %

Bears        Chiefs

59.3          68.2

 

The Chiefs had the advantage of a more accurate quarterback (Alex Smith) than the Bears (Trubisky). Coaches are stressing accuracy along with ball security, and improving Trubisky’s accuracy is axiomatic for success in Nagy’s scheme, which is based on the West Coast foundation of high completion percentage and minimizing risk of negative plays in the passing game.

Notably, in true West Coast tradition, with the Reid/Nagy offenses forcing defenses to spread horizontally the Chiefs rushed for a half-yard more than the Bears on first downs.

More notably perhaps, the Chiefs exploited those higher-percentage positive first-down plays, which meant shorter yardage needs on second downs, with more passing, not less. And when the Chiefs did run, they were just as successful per carry.

 

2017 second downs

 

Run/pass ratio (%)

Bears        Chiefs

48/52        40.8/59.2 

 

Yards per carry

Bears        Chiefs

4.0             4.6

 

Completion %

Bears        Chiefs

62.6          72.7

 

West Coast systems typically operate with more drag routes, quick slants and square-in’s, requiring receivers to run precise routes and have the ability to create separation quickly as Trubisky sets up quickly and looks to throw on time.

The “on time” component is critical, because it the timing of breaks and routes are connected to footwork – Trubisky’s – in that the ball is expected to be coming out when he hits the third or fifth step of his drop. The quarterback is not going to sit waiting for a receiver to come open, as in some other programs.

“It's a wide open attack and it's a great offense because there are so many options within it,” Trubisky said. “We know our job and it all comes down to execution for us. There are so many options I can't even begin to say where it starts but Coach Nagy has brought in a great plan.

“I think the system fits the players we have. In particular I feel like it really fits my skill set with the RPO's, the quick game, stretching the ball down the field and then with the running backs we have just pounding it inside and continuously trying to establish the run game each and every game. I just feel like we've got a lot of options, can be really dynamic and on top of that how we understand it and how the coaches have taught it to us since day one is just going to allow us to play faster and execute the plays at a higher rate.”

Bears among 50 most valuable sports teams in the world

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USA Today

Bears among 50 most valuable sports teams in the world

The Chicago Bears haven't enjoyed many wins over the last several years, but that hasn't done anything to hurt the franchise's bottom line.

According to a recent report by Forbes, the Bears rank 17th among the 50 most valuable sports teams in the world for 2018. The franchise is valued at $2.85 billion.

17. Chicago Bears

Value: $2.85 billion

1-year change: 6%

Operating income: $114 million

Owner: McCaskey family

Chicago is seventh among NFL teams in the top-17, with Dallas, New England, New York (Giants), Washingon, San Francisco and Los Angeles (Rams) all having higher valuations.

It's no surprise the Bears are this valuable, even without a winning product. They play in one of the greatest sports cities on the planet. And just imagine what will happen to the club's price tag if Mitch Trubisky and the new-look roster actually start winning games.