Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

21 Jan 2011

NY Times: NFC Championship Preview

Lots of stuff about the 1921 Bears in this.

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 21 Jan 2011

17 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2011, 2:03am by UTVikefan


by MikeyP (not verified) :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 11:49am

BJ Raji isn't really part of the goal line package he just came in on one play

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 1:57pm

As a Packers fan, I'm getting more and more worried about Sunday. I have yet to see anybody pick the Bears on Sunday, even though they are playing at home and their defense matches up extremely well against the Packers. Plus, the Packers special teams aren't very special and have already given up a punt return TD to Hester earlier this year. Maybe I should check the Tribune or Sun-Times sites for a little Chicago homerism.

by KnowsHow2RamIt :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:07pm

As long as Tom Jackson doesn't pick the Packers, it's all good.

by Flounder :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:19pm

Why in the world does who media people are picking matter at all? I highly doubt that has any impact on the players.

I give GB a 60% chance of winning, with a 40% chance of a special teams debacle or untimely turnover (or both! see week 3) costing them the game.

by Marko :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:21pm

A lot of the media (but by no means all of it) in Chicago is picking the Packers.

by Aaron R (not verified) :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:49pm

I'm feeling the same way. Somewhat ironically, I had a lot more confidence that Green Bay could win the past two games going in as underdogs, because I felt that they were "underrated" and all the business that goes with being the lower seed. Now that I've seen near-unanimous praise for the Packers and sky-high hype for Aaron Rodgers all week, I'm worried that some of it will go to their heads and they'll lose their edge. Or perhaps, it's just all in *my* head.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 4:23pm

Tedy Bruschi and a minority of ESPN's analysts picked the Bears. Rosenthal of PFT also picked them.

As a Bears fan, I've gotten a little more confident as the week has gone on, for reasons that are not entirely clear to me. I was a wreck before they played the Saints in 2007.

by Marko :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 2:39pm

"The improvement of the Bears’ offensive line has been overstated. The Bears allowed 32 sacks in the first eight games, 24 in the final eight, and 3 against the Seahawks: more of a modest tweak than a sea change."

No one is saying the Bears' offensive line is outstanding or even good. But you are understating their improvement. The horrible play early in the season was not reflected solely by the number of sacks that they gave up; it also was the constant pressure that Cutler was under (often due to missed assignments), which forced hurried throws, as well as the inability to run block with any consistency.

While the sack numbers aren't great in the second half of the season, Cutler has had much more time to throw and hasn't been under consistent duress, and some of the sacks have been Cutler's fault for holding the ball too long and/or refusing to throw it away. Also, the run game has been much more effective in the second half of the season, due to better blocking in general. The line also improved in short yardage situations after the bye.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 4:14pm

Yeah, I know people latch on to sack numbers because there just aren't a lot of metrics to examine pass blocking, but they really can't be relied on to provide accurate insight. The Bears were far worse than the sack numbers indicated early, and now they have achieved mediocrity.

If one team does a significantly better job of rushing the passer, I suspect they'll win. I wouldn't be surprised if either team accomplished that, but the home field helps. Toss in a decisive special teams win by the Bears, and that's why I'm picking them. If I knew for a fact that Cutler would not throw two more interceptions than Rodgers, I might be willing to risk significant capital on the proposition.

by Charles Jake (not verified) :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 4:29pm

After the Patriots debacled the Bears, Tommie Harris said that 3-4 linebackers have an easier time rushing the passer on a bad surface because they're standing up. I have no idea if this is true, and Harris has been known to make dubious excuses before. If it is true, the Bears will be in serious trouble with Cutler under duress while Rodgers is fresh 'n clean.

by Arkaein :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:03pm

Cutler's INTs increased slightly from 7 in the first 8 games to 9 in the second 8, so I'm not sure that better blocking has shown up in fewer hurried throws.

He has also increased his passing TDs though, from 9 over the first half of the season to 14 over the second half, so he might be making a few more good plays as well. Just looking over the numbers it doesn't seem like this is due to an increase in passing attempts.

Comparing with Forte's numbers it looks like the improvements in run blocking are much more significant than any improvements in pass blocking.

by tuluse :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:48pm

Cutler played 1.5 fewer games in the first 8.

by TomC :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:21pm

There were multiple times in the Seattle game (the playoff one, not the week 6 one) where Cutler stood motionless behind a wall of blockers for three or four seconds, scanning the field and going through his full progression of reads. That *never* happened in the first half of the season.

by Kal :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 3:45pm

I'd say the bigger improvement in the offensive line was not about the passing protection (though I'd like to see sacks + hurries + hits, not just sacks); it was about the anemic run game becoming much less so.

by jtduffin :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 5:51pm

+1 each for "homeopathic run-pass ratios" and for "The Bears spent the Brett Favre epoch rubbing quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Jim Miller together to see if they could make fire."

Nice article Mike. :-)

by armchair journe... :: Fri, 01/21/2011 - 7:33pm


i'm overthinking this, but wouldn't it be a "homeopathic rushing attack"

unless, i guess, that passing represents water... which works too. never mind. nothing to see here.

armchair journeyman quarterback

by UTVikefan (not verified) :: Sat, 01/22/2011 - 2:03am

William F.'s post in the Times comments was GREAT!