The Reckless Abandonment of Justin Fields

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - Chicago Bears rookie wide receiver Velus Jones was issued a locker right next to quarterback Justin Fields.

Receiver crisis averted. Chemistry achieved. Next stop: Montana-to-Rice.

"I haven't seen him yet since I've been down here," Jones told reporters on the first day of Bears rookie camp earlier in the month. "But we have been texting on the phone and FaceTiming, just manifesting what's to come. Most likely probably link up with him when I get out here." (Quotes per Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Chicago.)

Yes indeed, Jones most likely probably will link up with Fields, if they have not by now, what with being teammates with lockers next to each other and whatnot. But it's soooo encouraging they are texting and manifesting things already! Fields and Jones are gonna be gweat fwiends. How DARE anyone suggest that the new Bears regime is treating poor Fields to the Uriah the Hittite treatment?

C'mon: you know the bible story of Uriah the Hittite. Uriah is King David's favorite general. Uriah's wife Bathsheba is David's favorite Instagram follow. David impregnates Bathsheba, and when some unbiblically skeevy schemes to cover his tracks go awry, David orders Uriah to the front lines of a dangerous battle, then withdraws all of his other troops.

Problem solved! Just don't ask what happened to the baby.

Bears general manager Other Ryan Poles and head coach Other Matt Eberflus aren't giving up on Fields. Perish the thought. They're just sending him onto the field with a receiving corps that would embarrass the Birmingham Stallions. If Fields' career craters, then Whoopsie! He was another of Original Recipe Ryan Pace's mistakes, right?

Jones spent his first media availability justifying his existence to what sounded like a genuinely patient, sympathetic press pool. Everyone knows it's not Jones' fault that he's the only receiver that the Bears drafted. When asked about the fact that he turned 25 years old a few days after the interview—Jones, who played five total college seasons for USC and Tennessee, is two years older than Justin Jefferson—Jones emphasized his "maturity." That's one way of spinning it. That's practically the only way of spinning it.

Jones is fast and athletic. He was a fine collegiate return man with a high-character reputation. He looked OK at Senior Bowl week. When we assembled the Fantasy 40 for the draft, he kept lurking in the top 50, just behind prospects such as Khalil Shakir (Boise State, Bills) and Bo Melton (Rutgers, Seahawks) who were more dynamic and/or polished. As a developmental WR3 and special teamer on a strong offense, Jones would look like a fine addition.

But Jones is not a developmental depth receiver. He's a likely immediate starter on a wide receiver corps also featuring:

  • Darnell Mooney, who ranked 63rd in DYAR last season, though a putrid offense and revolving-door quarterback situation clearly nerfed his metrics. Mooney would be a fine WR2 on a real offense.
     
  • Equanimeous St. Brown: A former charter member of the Aaron Rodgers Shame Squadron. Caught 16 passes in the last two seasons.
     
  • Byron Pringle: Pringle caught 42 passes and ranked second in DVOA in his third NFL season in 2021, with much of the production coming when the Chiefs downshifted into short-passing mode against non-stop two-deep shells. Most of Pringle's catches came over the short middle of the field. It sure sounds like Pringle's success was the residue of playing with Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill, and Travis Kelce, but let's charitably pencil him in as an "adequate" slot receiver.
     
  • Tajae Sharpe: A draftnik binkie from 2016 who has bounced from the Titans to the Vikings to the Falcons to the Bears over the last four seasons. That's a pretty straight downward trajectory.
     
  • Dante Pettis: Skinny, oft-injured speedster with 25 receptions in the last three years.
     
  • David Moore: Seattle's answer to Equanimeous St. Brown. Moore stumbled from the Panthers to the Raiders to the Seahawks last offseason, alternating between the practice squad and healthy scratches.
     
  • Dazz Newsome: Last year's sixth-round pick out of the North Carolina offense that also produced Javonte Williams, Michael Carter, Dyami Brown, and Sam Howell. Newsome could potentially emerge as a replacement-level nifty-shifty guy.

There's no way to put a shine upon this stink nugget of a receiver corps. And there's no way a tight end corps headlined by Cole Kmet will take any pressure off the receivers or Fields.

Under the circumstances, placing Jones' locker next to Fields' is actually a discouraging sign. The Bears aren't even pretending that, say, they expect Pringle to become Fields' security blanket, or Newsome to develop, or even Mooney to take the next step after a 1,000-yard season. Here ya' go, Justin: we found you a brand-new WR1 in the middle of the third round. Go become BFFs and manifest things! And if it doesn't work out, don't say we didn't try.

Yeah yeah yeah, Walkthrough is reading too much into locker room placements and rookie-camp soundbites. But that's the thin soup the Bears have given us to slurp. Trevor Lawrence got a bundle of B-list free agents: the food may not be great, but the portion is huge. Zach Wilson got Garrett Wilson, Breece Hall, and two veteran tight ends. Fields got a rock in his trick-or-treat bag.

Last August, I explained that Pace and Matt Nagy were playing a silly self-preservation game with Fields, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles. Their unstated but obvious plan: mothball Fields as "unready" early in the season; unleash him during a Dalton slump; ride a little bump of late-season success and excitement; claim that everything was now going according to plan and that continuity and stability were essential to Fields' growth; stay employed for another year. They almost pulled it off, too, except that Dalton got hurt too early in the year; Fields stunk out of the gate; Nagy refused to call designed runs for Fields and began pawning off play-calling responsibilities/accountability; Fields suffered a myriad of rib/knee/hand/ankle/COVID stuff; and both Pace and Nagy were so staggeringly overmatched that the Magnificent McCaskeys could no longer pretend to not notice.

New Ryan and New Matt are also playing a self-preservation game. This season is the last regime's fault. We're not responsible for anything, so don't expect us to win. And we'd rather reset our expectation clock in 2023 at Year 1 with a rookie than at Year 3 with Fields, because that buys us extra time to not have to worry about success.

The Bears have been called out for recklessly abandoning Fields by just about everyone, so naturally a contrarian argument has been formulated by fans/stans. It goes like this: the Bears have needs everywhere, second-round picks Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon had first-round grades, any receiver the Bears selected in the second round would be a reach, and nothing matters because this is just a rebuilding year.

To address those points:

  • The Bears have needs everywhere. True. Either developing or getting an accurate evaluation of their potential franchise quarterback is a more pressing need than bolstering the secondary a smidge.
     
  • Second-round picks Brisker and Gordon had first-round grades. So did receivers George Pickens and Skyy Moore, who were still on the board when the Bears selected Gordon. "First-round grade" is a canard and a colloquial term; team evaluators and media analysts alike broke this and every other draft class into about 15 top-tier prospects and a second tier of perhaps 30 or 40 players which included Gordon, Brisker, Pickens, Moore, Jon Metchie, and others. Technically, about 50 players per year can be described as having "first-round grades" for the purposes of a self-serving argument.
     
     Had the Bears selected David Ojabo or Nakobe Dean instead of a receiver, they could at least justify the pick as a player who had gotten top-10 or top-15 notice and was therefore too good to pass up. The Bears chose a pair of defensive backs because they prioritized their bad secondary over their league-worst receiver corps. Period.
     
  • Any receiver the Bears selected in the second round would be a reach. Not Pickens, Moore, or Metchie. Also, nothing was stopping them from selecting a receiver on Day 3. Shakir, Melton, Romeo Doubs, or Calvin Austin could easily win a roster spot from someone like Sharpe or Pettis.
     
  • Nothing matters because this is just a rebuilding year. Rebuilding years are not gap years after high school for smoking weed on the basement couch. Real rebuilding must be tactical and aggressive. Look at what the Giants are doing: eating bad contracts on one front, adding top draft talent on the second, hedging their bets with Daniel Jones (without throwing their chips out the window) on the third. Poles and Eberflus weren't given two first-round picks to work with, but they were given Fields and a less-than-catastrophic cap situation. What have they done so far? Turned Khalil Mack into a rookie safety, slapped some Band-Aids on the offensive line, and purpose-built the weakest offense in the NFL. Good thing they drafted a punter!

And if you assume the Bears are just tanking for a 2023 quarterback, then you are proving my point that the new regime is just perving on Bathsheba in the bathtub, Your Highness.

Justin Fields and the Lessons of Deep History

Justin Fields' DVOA last year was -28.4%, 32nd in the NFL. For new readers: Fields was 28.4% worse than the league average at quarterback, which is very bad indeed.

But nearly 40 years ago, John Elway was worse at -34.2% as a rookie in 1983.

Our DVOA database now goes back 40 years; the strike-shortened 1982 season is on its way. That provides Football Outsiders with a deep historic perspective that other analytics sites cannot match. It also helps that writers like me are old—back-achingly, penny-pinchingly, blood-pressure-regulatingly old—with semi-clear memories of things that happened four decades ago. It's easy for us greybeards to forget that Elway might as well be Bobby Layne to not just readers, but colleagues, editors, bosses, etc.

The 1983 season was less of an NFL turning point than a tipping point. The league had lengthened the season to 16 games and changed rules to make passing much easier in 1978. Five transitional years followed: the defensive juggernauts of the 1970s still reigned, but quarterbacks such as Dan Fouts and Joe Montana began putting up shocking offensive numbers with the help of coaches such as Don Coryell and Bill Walsh. Then, within a few months between the autumn of 1982 and the summer of 1983, Michael Jackson released Thriller; the final episode of M*A*S*H aired; Elway, Dan Marino, and the rest the Class of 1983 was drafted; and the 1980s officially began. Everything before that took place on 35mm NFL Films stock; everything for about 20 years after took place on grainy VHS stock.

I would like to claim that my first kiss was wedged in there somewhere, but I spent most of the spring of 1983 trying to win a tabletop football championship with Ken Anderson's 1982 APBA card.

Anyway, Elway was horrendous as a rookie. Marino was phenomenal: second in DVOA once he wrested a starting job from Don Strock. Fouts ranked first, Montana third but first in DYAR.

Terry Bradshaw underwent elbow surgery in March of 1983. Replacement Cliff Stoudt threw 21 interceptions and finished just ahead of Elway in DYAR. The Steelers still went 10-6, which bodes well for Mitch Trubisky's attempt to replace a legend with a bum arm. Ken Stabler, another 1970s dinosaur, ranked 24th in DVOA in a 28-team NFL in what would be his final season as a starter. Anderson finished ninth in DVOA in what would be his last good statistical season. The 1970s legends were mostly cooked, but the 1980s legends had not yet arrived. Jim Kelly chose the USFL over the NFL. Marino was a late-season sensation waiting for his true breakout in 1984. A punky QB named Jim McMahon ranked 25th in DVOA for an unremarkable Bears team. And Elway was a mess.

Elway rose to league-average in 1984, then became a top-10 quarterback for many, many years. It's noteworthy that he did so without much of a supporting cast and with a Dan Reeves offense which was behind the times, though a star-studded defense helped make the Broncos perennial Super Bowl contenders. The Broncos traded a lot to acquire Elway from the Baltimore Colts, and there was no free agency back then, but eventually the Broncos built a passable playmaker corps out of guys such as Vance Johnson and Mark Jackson, while young Mike Shanahan began blowing a little dust off the scheme.

Long story short, history tells us that a superlative quarterback prospect can succeed in less-than-ideal offensive conditions. It also tells us that it might happen once per generation if everything breaks right, so it's not the sort of situation to count upon. History also tells us that while many future great quarterbacks are pretty terrible in their first seasons, from Elway to Troy Aikman to Josh Allen, nearly all of them show substantial growth in Year 2. This is a make-or-break year for Fields, Trevor Lawrence, and Zach Wilson, three youngsters hoping that they can become this era's Elway.

All that said, I wonder if we're reaching another NFL tipping point: longer schedule, brace of quarterbacks entering their second seasons, the COVID years creating the sort of upheaval the 1982 work stoppage brought, veteran quarterbacks of yesteryear retiring one by one. When Bradshaw underwent surgery in the spring of 1983, he checked into the hospital under a pseudonym to avoid press/fan scrutiny.

Bradshaw's fake name? Thomas Brady.

Time truly is a flat circle.

Comments

94 comments, Last at 27 May 2022, 4:01pm

1  New Ryan and New Matt are…

 

New Ryan and New Matt are also playing a self-preservation game. This season is the last regime's fault. We're not responsible for anything, so don't expect us to win. And we'd rather reset our expectation clock in 2023 at Year 1 with a rookie than at Year 3 with Fields, because that buys us extra time to not have to worry about success.

Honestly, Bears fans probably should wish that were true, because it might mean that future years with New Ryan and New Matt might actually have some intelligent focus on the offense.

But it's entirely possible that there's another, simpler reason: Poles and Eberflus were hired because they're still the Same Old Bears who believe that defense and special teams wins games, and the new hires reflect that.

The "real" head coach hires (excluding the internal promotes of the Texans, Saints, and Bucs) this offseason were Bears (Eberflus), Broncos (Hackett), Jaguars (Pederson), Raiders (McDaniels), Dolphins (McDaniel), Vikings (O'Connell), Giants (Daboll).  

That's 7 coaching hires. Every single one except Eberflus was an offensive coordinator prior. I dunno why anyone would be surprised that the Bears didn't try to get Fields any help on the offense. The McCaskeys just have their idea for how the Bears should be, so it's not particularly surprising the coach/GM work to make it that way.

4 I'm not sure "wisdom of the…

I'm not sure "wisdom of the crowds" works when the crowd consists of seven idiots.

But that's the thin soup the Bears have given us to slurp.

The Bears kind of have to win with defense and special teams. Since their stretch from 1932-1943 when they were the best offense in the league, the Bears have been dreadful on offense, with a decent one every decade or so, with the last really great offense being the Wade-Sayers-Ditka team from 1965. (Other than 2013, this may also be the last time the offense carried the defense)

I mean, lord, even their list of great offensive players is basically Ditka, Sayers, and Payton. The Bears have basically stopped trying to win with offense because they simply can't do it -- much in the way the Chargers have given up trying to win with defense and clutch special teams. If one really rich guy could buy both teams and turn one into the Cardinals and the other into the Spiders, you'd have one juggernaut and one team that perpetually squatted the 1st overall pick.

Long story short, history tells us that a superlative quarterback prospect can succeed in less-than-ideal offensive conditions.

Unfortunately, it appears Lamar Jackson has already claimed that for this generation.

7 The Chargers are frankly…

The Chargers are frankly amazing. They shame the Packers in terms of an embarrassment of wealth at the QB position and offense in general. (The Packers may pip the Chargers in terms of peak, but not for floor -- the worst QB to start for two years for the Chargers is either Jack Kemp or Justin Herbert. It's amazing.)

They have one AFL title to show for it. That's astounding, frankly. They just wasted the careers of three Hall guys and a Hall of Very Good guy.

6 I'm not sure "wisdom of the…

I'm not sure "wisdom of the crowds" works when the crowd consists of seven idiots.

It's not the seven idiots you're copying, it's the successful teams that they're copying.

Since their stretch from 1932-1943 when they were the best offense in the league, the Bears have been dreadful on offense,

I don't understand how this results in "The Bears kind of have to win with defense and special teams." In my opinion, the Bears have been dreadful on offense for all these years because they want to win with defense and special teams.

I mean, there's not some sort of strange voodoo over the franchise. McCaskey gave this impassioned speech in 2011 when they moved the kickoffs forward about how it'd ruin the Bears. Angelo even gave some crap about how Chicago has two seasons and when the ball gets heavier you'll have more returns and such (as if Chicago is the coldest city or something). It's just what the owners want. It's their brand.

Don't get me wrong, there are definitely franchises I can't figure out why they're so perpetually cursed (the Chargers, definitely) but the Bears are an easy one.

9 Like I said, it wasn't…

Like I said, it wasn't always this way. Halas had some juggernauts so good they were actually okay on offense, too. But it's Luckman who was the outlier -- the one good QB they ever had and didn't let get away.

I think it has become a voodoo curse. The Bears at some level know they are bad at offense at a franchise level, and have simply stopped trying. Much like the Chargers have stopped trying not to blow games late, or the Cardinals have stopped trying to not be comically mismanaged, or the Rams and Raiders have stopped trying to not be vagabonds.

10 The Bears have certainly…

The Bears have certainly made moves to be a good offense.

They tried with Grossman in the first round. They tried in the first round w/ Cade McCown. They tried drafting Trubisky. They all failed, some in extreme fashion. They then tried with Fields, trading a future first for him. They hired Matt Nagy, an offensive coach. They dumped Lovie - the most successful Bears coach in decades precisely because the offense was always a hinderance. They traded multiple firsts for Cutler. They've tried their hand at first round receivers and first round offensive linemen. They've just all failed. All of them. Its remarkable.

If the McCaskey's have been blindly wedded to defense + special teams; they haven't shown it with their draft day decisions. This isn't the Jets who can credibly say, outside of qb, its been a string of defensive players.

For whatever reasons, it just hasn't worked

16  They traded multiple…

They traded multiple firsts for Cutler. They've tried their hand at first round receivers and first round offensive linemen. They've just all failed. All of them. Its remarkable.

Of course they try! It's not that they don't know they need an offense, but they're not willing to make the changes needed. They haven't done a mass overhaul of their scouting department (which clearly can't scout offense) and the drafts they do make are token and silly. They hire an offensive coach and then burn huge capital for a defensive player. Oh, sure, they want an offense, but not it if costs them their defensive identity. Their actions all follow the same pattern: they fall in love with some guy who'll be a savior rather than actually doing the homework, because, well... they don't have anyone who can do the homework.

edit: I should say yes, obviously, I started out by saying "the reason the Bears didn't draft offense is because they focus on defense" when obviously they've drafted on offense plenty of times before, too. But they were in the bottom half of the league last year on defense (and not much better the year before), and that's just panic-mode for the Bears ownership.

27 clearly can't scout offense …

clearly can't scout offense

I don't even think this is entirely true, or at least it wasn't until quite recently. The Bears in the '90s and '00s were actually kind of great at scouting receivers: Curtis Conway, Marcus Robinson, Bobby Engram, Marty Booker, Bernard Berrian, and Alshon Jeffrey were all solid #1 or #2 receivers at one point (and aside from Conway, weren't 1st round picks), and they got a ton of solid depth pieces (like, Dez White level) in that span too (and also Greg Olsen). Matt Forte was a very good RB for a time, and Anthony Thomas and Cedric Benson were solid enough, if selected too high (and they plucked Thomas Jones off the scrap heap when he'd been written off as a bust, too). Maybe they're not Hall of Famers, and they obviously drafted some busts in there too, but they got plenty of guys who were good enough to win with.

Where they (not so) secretly kind of suck is drafting O-Line: of the players they drafted in that span (and it wasn't many, considering the number of linemen a team rosters), only Olin Kreutz was really an excellent player, and only a few others were even solid (Chris Villarial, Marc Colombo once he finally got healthy, a few more recent guys who are mostly gone to other teams now). That is something that's held their QBs back in that span -- and the fact that the one time they really tried to field a good passing offense, they paired that crappy line with Mike Martz's Terrence-Malick-ian pace of route development, is kind of darkly funny. It doesn't get nearly as much press, but their track record drafting o-line honestly isn't much better than it is for QBs.

Obviously when these trends persist over decades the root cause must be the one constant in that time, namely ownership. They are just terrible at "scouting" front-office people for Team President/GM/Head Coach - the failures of player acquisition and development all in turn come from that. Short of "firing" themselves, I don't really see how that gets fixed. They can turn over coaching staves, scouting departments, analytics departments, team executives all they want, but the replacements won't be any better unless they stumble, blind squirrel-style, onto someone who knows what they're doing; and even if they do, the odds that they'll even recognize it are... remote.

Or, you know, they could just blame it all on Soldier Field and move to the 'burbs. That's another option, sure. Go with that.

45 Marc Trestman also had a red…

Marc Trestman also had a red-hot reputation

Really? He had a red hot reputation? He was interviewed in '12 for the Colts job. When he was the Alouettes coach. He didn't get it. And went back to the CFL.

Trestman (like Nagy!) had a red hot PR machine. Whoever his agent is deserved a huge raise. Go and read articles on him back in 2013. They're ludicrously glowing. He interviewed for the Browns (who hired Chudzinski over him!) and Bears in '13, as well as the Raiders OC position. Later he was interviewed for the Bucs OC position and got the Ravens OC position (and got fired).

Rod Marinelli was asked to rank the Bears head coaching candidates in '13. He put Arians first, Bevell second, and Trestman a "distant third" (pretty damn good ranking there - not that Bevell's been great, but certainly better than Trestman). They hired Trestman. Marinelli quit.  

I swear, the Bears try to improve their offense by listening to NFL talk radio or something.

46 Really? He had a red hot…

Really? He had a red hot reputation?

He did. Hindsight is 20/20.

Marinelli being right is a blind squirrel finding an acorn. If Marinelli knew how to pick coordinators, he wouldn't have been such a joke of a HC.

50 It's interesting to note…

It's interesting to note. The defensive coordinator for what I believe is the worst defense of all time is the current Packers DC.

Its nice to see the stink of that season get washed off eventually.

 

 

55 It's true, Trestman did go…

It's true, Trestman did go back to the NFL with the expectation that he was an offensive-guru based on his success with the Alouettes in the CFL.

Which at the time I thought was bizarre, because the Alouettes' success was built around having the best QB in the CFL throughout Trestman's tenure.

65 Of course it was bizarre. It…

Of course it was bizarre. It's a PR thing, presumedly Trestman's agent putting stuff out there. Eskin in '13 puts out "Don't sleep on the name Marc Trestman as a HC candidate in the NFL. Hearing his name in last wk. Won 2 Grey Cups in CFL. Was asst in NFL." I mean, it freaking reads like the top lines of a resume.

62 He did. Hindsight is 20/20. …

He did. Hindsight is 20/20.

No, he didn't. If he had a red hot reputation he wouldn't have had just a single interview in '12 (which he wasn't selected for) and two in '13 with one being beaten out by Chudzinski. He wouldn't've gone back to the CFL in '12. He had a red-hot media apparatus, not a red-hot reputation. It's the whole "Josh McCown, head coach candidate" thing again.

Jeez, if that's a red-hot reputation, what do you call Chip Kelly's? Nuclear?

If Marinelli knew how to pick coordinators, he wouldn't have been such a joke of a HC

Marinelli wasn't being asked to pick a coordinator, he was being asked to pick a head coach. Evaluation of something doesn't mean you can do it.

93 John Harbaugh fired Trestman 5 games into a season

John Harbaugh hired Trestman to succeed Kubiak as OC, over Kyle Shanahan, on the recommendation of his brother, who was on the same Raiders coaching staff with Trestman in 2002-3.  Harbs gave Trestman a do-over after a catastrophic season in which Flacco (and a whole bunch of other guys) got injured, and then said nope after 5 games the next year and fired Trestman. 

Harbs is not much of a scapegoat / fire-coordinators-midseason kinda guy.  It was a horrendous fit between coordinator and team or HC philosophy.  They (I think) wanted a guy who would continue Kubiak's zone-running philosophy.  Instead they got a guy whose passing plays used the same WCO verbiage.

60 "They traded multiple firsts…

"They traded multiple firsts for Cutler."

"They tried with Grossman in the first round. They tried in the first round w/ Cade McCown. They tried drafting Trubisky. They all failed, some in extreme fashion" 

Going further back, they traded a first for Rick Mirer, which goes in the "failed in extreme fashion" bucket.  Randy Mueller likes to tell the story about how the Seattle sports media were flabbergasted by how he was able to con anybody into giving up high pick for Mirer.

58 "(Other than 2013, this may…

"(Other than 2013, this may also be the last time the offense carried the defense)"

In 1995, the Bears were #3 on offense, and #24 on defense.  They finished 9-7 and missed out on the playoffs by one game.  Erik Kramer has the singular accomplishments of quarterbacking the only Lions playoff win since Bobby Layne, and the best Bears passing season since Sid Luckman.

66 Wow!

“singular accomplishments of quarterbacking the only Lions playoff win since Bobby Layne, and the best Bears passing season since Sid Luckman.”

As good as TWO Hall-of-Famers!  Clearly HoF qualified!  Next year?

21 Da same ol'd Bears

Regardless of who's put in the front office , it's Virginia McCasky and family Team and they're not going to allow anyone to change how they want the image they want for the Chicago Bears . As long as they're making big money every year who cares what people think ! It be so nice to show everyone that the Chicago Bears part of the Original Teams that started the whole national football league would lead the way , but I guess as long as people continue to pay good money to watch this style of football , I just feel sorry for the players who come in thinking that they're going to show everyone , and get put in the worst possible situations to fail . Give these players a real chance to win ,& stop just getting by like your a broke low budget organization . We are the Chicago Bears and we deserve to be contenders not bottom feeders for how much longer ? 

26 prediction

20 years from now, rob gronkowski grows a serious stache, comes in to coach da bears with an awesome D coordinator and a maverick not very good QB, wins a SB, and then the Bears go into hibernation for another 50 years. Justin Fields, Triscuit, Cutler, et al are all just way ahead or behind their time.

2 When asked about the fact…

When asked about the fact that he turned 25 years old a few days after the interview—Jones, who played five total college seasons for USC and Tennessee, is two years older than Justin Jefferson—Jones emphasized his "maturity." That's one way of spinning it. That's practically the only way of spinning it.

Velus Jones promises to not hold his competitors' youth and inexperience against them.

3 And now the also 25 year old Jaire is locked up

Legggooooo.

I liked Dazz coming out but he's already been ✂️. Personal exp with ESB has been disappointing after the injury. If Fields is anything other than the worst next year, that's impressive. 

Oh and VJJ spent 4 years with USC and 2 with TN so 6 total.

Oh oh, it wasn't just WR either. OL like Raimann would've been a fine pick that high too. But hey 4 day 3 picks are sure to hit lol

Oh again, "first round grade" is dumb when there's never even 30 of them. Just rank them.

8 Short of hitting absolute…

Short of hitting absolute gin with a 2nd round receiver, Fields was going to be saddled with a disaster one way or another.

I didn't watch Fields beyond his very first start, so I have no idea how much he improved afterwards. However, I wrote in the audibles at the time that the performance was so bad that it made it impossible to evaluate anything else on offense. That's kind of why we end up in this perpetual chicken and egg problem...is it primarily the fault of the QB or the supporting cast?

Me personally, when your offense descends into the extreme depths of horror, it's on the QB. No is singing the praises for Mac Jones' receiving core, but he was miles ahead of Fields as a player last year.

All that to say, I don't think Fields should be written off; more than a few QBs have shaken off abysmal rookie years. But if he's going to be the QB the bears hope for, he's going to need to show some progress irrespective of who's around him. If next year he's still circling the toilet, I think you have to conclude it's on him.

 

22 Is it fair to blame the QB ?

I just have one question ? Are we ever going to see another championship with our Chicago Bears or is this just as good as it's going to get ? 30 yrs plus and were rebuilding again and it seems like we are no where close to being a contender , it's hard to believe that we were part of the original Teams that started the NFL and over the last half of this century we have been bottom of the league mostly , looking like we have no idea what's going on . I would love to feel proud to be a Bears fan like I did as a kid when my Bears were the Champions . I still can remember those Ayers legends !!! I want to feel that again , it's been way to long & it's not right that the owners are the ones who are in control and have the means to make it happen . I'm not giving up on my Bears but I'm not getting any younger ! 

23 Sure why not? I don't really…

Sure why not? I don't really buy Pat's theory that this runs all the way from ownership to the scouts. The ownership has shown they aren't satisfied with rudderless offense in the past. 

I think, sometimes it boils down to simply they missed on the QB successively. That isn't all that unusual. The jaguars have missed on every single one of their first round qbs.

The Browns missed on QBs for years until Baker kind of/sort of panned out. And the Ravens have been known for punchless offense almost since their rebirth until Jackson showed up. And the Bengals have a pretty dark history too, but its amazing what hitting on Burrow will do for your credibility. 

I don't want to absolve the organization for their mistakes, because there were numerous. Trading for Foles and then Andy Dalton were awful and probably could be traced back to Ownership inexplicably keeping Nagy and Pace after it was clear Mitch was a bust. I also think they operated like a team that was a few moves away from a championship with the baked in assumption that Mitch would be great and on a rookie contract. When the latter turned out not to be the case, that made the former moves look bad in retrospect and then made the front office flail further trying to justfiy them. 

In other words, it all traces back to the QB

25 And the Bengals have a…

And the Bengals have a pretty dark history too, but its amazing what hitting on Burrow will do for your credibility. 

They've done okay at QB, really. They just top out at Hall of Very Good.

Anderson-Esiason-Palmer-Dalton isn't a wretched history. That's better than the history of any of the Chicago teams.

29 QB luck really turns…

QB luck really turns everything for a franchise although you need to capitalize on opportunities also. Looking at the Bears QB drafts.

1999: Cade McCowen

They could have drafted Aaron Brooks(ish career with Saints) or Shaun King (slightly better but basically same career with TB) but no QB they could have taken would have really change anything

2003: Grossman

He wasn't good, but there wasn't anyone better they could have taken at that spot

2021: Only other QB when Fields was taken was Mac Jones. Pretty much everyone thought this pic was correct, so hard to argue with it.  

2017: This is the one they blew. Trading up for Trubisky with Mahomes and Deshaun Watson on the board got slammed at the time and history proved it correct. 

They basically blew one draft, although you could argue they arn't good at developing QB either, but unless Fields or Trubisky goes some where else and has a breakout year it's hard to say. 

Getting QB outside the draft has always been mostly luck. Watson is the first elite guy I can remember changing teams before age 30 and it only took epic off field issues and a record setting contract. (Bree's maybe, but he didn't real break out till NO and he had injury concerns)

 

31 Mitch Trubisky was…

Mitch Trubisky was considered the top prospect in what was otherwise a weak class. 

Watson was dogged by athleticism concerns somewhat in the vein of Teddy Bridgewater. Athleticism concerns that turned out to be wildly inaccurate in Deshawn's case but pretty spot on with Teddy. And Mahomes was considered a reach.

Furthermore, everyone blamed Darnold's failure in NY on everything but Darnold himself. He goes to Carolina and proceeds to be awful. I just don't see a lot of evidence for a QB being unplayable and then working out in any kind of way in some next destination. The one's that were success stories had Qbs that were inconsistent but flashed(like Tanny); rather than epic disasters.

33 "Mitch Trubisky was…

"Mitch Trubisky was considered the top prospect in what was otherwise a weak class. "

Maybe, but it certainly wasn't universal. Looking back a few different pre-draft rankings:

  • SI : Watson 1st, Trubisky 4th
  • CBS : Trubisky 1st
  • ESPN: Trubisky 1st 
  • SBNation : Watson 1st, Trubisky 2nd
  • Bleacher Report : Watson 1st, Trubisky 2nd
  • Fox Sports : Watson 1st, Trubisky 3rd
  • Mel Kiper : Trubisky 1st
  • Mike Mayock : Watson 1st, Trubisky 2nd
  • Football Outsiders (QBASE) : Mahomes 1st, Trubisky 2nd

I don't think there would have been too much surprise had they taken Watson. 

34 They traded up from 3 to 2…

They traded up from 3 to 2 specifically because they weren't willing to settle for Watson or Mahomes if the 49ers went QB. Just a totally unnecessary level of commitment.

35 This is coming out of…

This is coming out of hindsight, because Mahomes and Watson turned into huge hits. But honestly, if Trubisky was instead Mahomes, no one would be saying a thing. Check out the audibles from the 2017 draft night.

 

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/audibles/2017/audibles-2017-nfl-draft-day-1

 

36 Goes to to show that…

Goes to to show that drafting is really a black art. The Chiefs gave up 2 firsts for Mahomes.  Totally correct in hindsight but they got killed at the time.

39 The Mitch trade up was always horrible

No amount of revisionist history can change Bears fan befuddled reaction. And it was appropriate. We all knew SF were more interested in Solomon Thomas (or at least not a QB).

And no one will ever admit it here but race certainly played apart of Mitch being QB1. Mahomes was a better prospect looking back it (had to for the bad Jordan Love comps a couple years ago) but Watson was from the same conference as Mitch, had a better RAS, was 13 (!) months younger, performed big on the big stage, higher career Y/A, bigger hands for those that still believed that, started more and then some random mediocre QB randomly rises at the last moment without a a Kyler like season single year of starting (Heisman vs not a single Heisman vote, heck Mac Jones finished 3rd in his lone year), meanwhile Watson finished 3rd then 2nd in Heisman voting. No Watson wasn't flawless but better than Mitch. 

I will never understand how people thought he was QB1. Just people completely overthinking Watson. The trade up was just another kick in the nuts that they thought he was THAT much better they couldn't wait/take QB2. Even if you somehow came to the weird conclusion he was QB1, there was no reason to be THAT confident. 

Mahomes was pretty well known as boom or bust so that was kinda whatever from the weird BIG12 conference.  

Oh and don't forget part of the trade up used picks that became Kamara AND Fred Warner (and Tedric Thompson).

40 Just people completely…

Just people completely overthinking Watson.

You don't need tired appeals to racism when the actual explanation is staring you in the face.*

https://www.ourlads.com/story/default/Quarterback-Ball-Velocity-at-NFL-Combine-2008-2017/10243/dh/
https://www.battleredblog.com/2017/5/5/15563118/does-deshaun-watson-really-have-a-noodle-arm

For some dumb reason, both Watson and Jackson fell prey to a briefly vogue idea that ball speed meant anything. That lasted about as long as it took for Watson and Jackson to succeed, and you haven't heard anything about it since. (It's not a counter-indicator -- Mahomes and Allen scored very high in it; it's just a random number generator.)

The knock on Mahomes was two-fold:

  1. He was a reckless gunslinger who took bad risks and didn't win enough (fair)
  2. Texas Tech QBs had disappointed in the pros.

This second argument was also why Rodgers fell so far down the draft order, and he didn't suffer from #1.

The Trubisky argument was basically like that of Josh Allen or Mahomes -- he was a toolsy QB who was better than his teammates, and his stats were depressed by having to drag a sub-par team along with him. That this argument has somewhat collapsed is why his carbon-copy, Sam Howell, fell so far.

* -- in the recent era, the best QBs are black and the best RBs and WRs are white. We live in bizarro world.

41 Lol there's aaron to refute and protect the shield

Ball velocity in its early stages from a guy that doesn't watch college. Good stuff.

But if you watched the games, Watson could make all the throws but let's call a spade a spade and stop acting like the NFL is sinless. They suddenly and randomly stopped caring about hand size and games started and called a class weak with a lot of minorities at the top in Watson, Mahomes and Kizer. 

Also funny because the answer the article asks is answered with "lol no" 

48 https://www…

https://www.footballoutsiders.com/nfl-draft/2017/qbase-2017

QBase hated all these guys. It hated Mahomes the least, but with the huge asterisk that QBase inflates Air Raid QBs. It basically argued Watson was Johnny Manziel and thought Davis Webb was about the same.

It disliked Watson for different reasons -- QBase thought he was being propped up by his teammates. It would turn out it was actually the other way around -- Watson was the better pro than the guys he was throwing to. Mike Williams and Hunter Renfro were perfectly adequate WR2s, but only WR2s, and Leggett was JAG.

It is interesting that QBase nailed Trubisky almost perfectly. He's right on the edge between bust and adequate.

\it did rightfully hate Kizer and Peterman

52 Yeah and it was completely off on 'em.

In reply to by Aaron Brooks G…

Most likely to be a bust for Watson? Lower in all the good?

And there's no real argument that Houston was the one propping up Deshaun with hindsight. Trubisky wouldn't have succeed there like Watson did.

And yeah bias influences the rankings of not just them but their teammates (Watson is a product of Williams so lower Watson and put him high). 

They dumped their old adages of hand size AND games started for the older AND less athletic one because of...wonky new age ball velocity? It's still not agreed upon on how to measure it. Yeah...spade.

53 I think Watson mostly was a…

I think Watson mostly was a victim of overthinking. He'd been a high-profile QB for years and teams just thought about it too much. This happens with prominent tape guys all the time -- teams are so used to looking at their positives that they start ignoring them and obsess about their negatives, and then fall in love with a Workout Warrior at the combine. Hell -- that happened this year to the edge rushers!

There was some concern he was just Tajh Boyd, and Manziel had eviscerated Alabama too, but... come on.

57 What

That's what I said. 

Workout warrior? Where Watson was...better? Mitch was far from a combine warrior, even back then.

Idk why it's so hard to admit race mightve been a factor. "Tie" (not really if you watched them for all the reasons i stated) went to the guy that looked more like them em. 

And it's not revisionist history. Ask any, even casual, Bears fan if they liked trading up for Mitch. 

47 It's hard to say bc you…

It's hard to say bc you almost never see QB go somewhere else and succeed, but it does seem like the team that drafted them matters alot. Mac Jones would probably be a total bust in 3/4 of the league.  

51 Mitch Trubisky was…

Mitch Trubisky was considered the top prospect in what was otherwise a weak class. 

There was a ton of disagreement in 2017. I think Trubisky just had a better agent. Trubisky also was highly considered in mock drafts, but not big boards (is it really a compliment if a ton of people think the Jets are going to draft you?). In other words, people thought he would go high, but when asked to rank him ignoring team, they ranked him lower than the other prospects.

For instance, in the first 15 big boards (excluding one, will mention) in NFL's mock draft database. UR is unranked.

Trubisky: 19, 38, 37, 23, 16, 14, 13, 30, 63, 39, 23, 42, UR, 45, 69, 
Watson: 38, 88, 21, UR, 20, 22, 26, 20, 22, 22, 22, 28, 17, 19, 21, 
Mahomes: 41, 33, 39, 04, 100, 37, 22, 32, 12, 62, 30, 52, 29, 26, 63

Trubisky was the top QB on 4 boards, Watson was the top QB on 8, and Mahomes on 3. The one excluded above actually didn't rank any of the 3 QBs.

In other words, if you just look at the "player rankings" from the 2017 draft, the most likely QB to be listed first was Deshaun Watson.

edit: Fun math note: the arithmetic mean of these goes Watson 32.4, Trubisky 38.1, and Mahomes 38.8, but the harmonic means of each are Mahomes 21.9, Watson 24.6, Trubisky 27.3, which is a good demonstration of why arithmetic means suck for averaging draft rankings.

64 Player value in a draft…

Player value in a draft doesn't increase or decrease linearly. If you're asking "which player was valued the most in a draft" it doesn't make sense to take the arithmetic average of his rankings.

Imagine player A being ranked 1st, 2nd, 1st, and 100th, and player B being ranked 1st, 2nd, 1st, and 200th. There's zero difference between those two rankings - the difference between 100 and 200 is negligible. Three guys ranked him near the top, and the last one said "these guys are trash."

Arithmetic mean: A = 26, B = 51
Geometric mean: A = 3.76, B = 4.47
Harmonic mean: A=1.6, B=1.6
Quadratic mean: A=50, B=100
Draft value mean: A=3.07, B=3.12

Obviously the harmonic mean isn't ideal (the second player isn't actually worth half the first, which is why the draft value mean gets pulled lower) but in terms of differences between the two, it's a decent analog. In terms of finding average value, the average draft value mean is what you want (of course, what to do with outliers is a totally different question).

The funny thing is that some people might think my example of "1, 2, 1, 100" is extreme and silly, and for 2017, it really wasn't. There was that much disagreement.

68 Harmonic mean is strongly…

Harmonic mean is strongly attracted to low numbers.

Basically, harmonic mean will always support a reach for a player. A single insane valuation will drive a player's apparent value up an entire round.

\This may be how the Patriots evaluate linemen.

70 Harmonic mean is strongly…

Harmonic mean is strongly attracted to low numbers.

Yup! Exactly like the draft value chart. I mean, OK, if you want to do better than just "average the inverses and invert," map to 1/sqrt(x) and average that. That's an extremely good match to the draft value chart (with the biggest deviations right at the beginning). In the "1, 2, 1, 100" vs "1, 2, 1, 200" example that gives 2.03 vs 2.07. Closer, obviously, to the draft value chart weighting, and it'd be really close for more typical ones.

Highly doubt that has a name, although you could just say "harmonic mean of the square-root of the rankings."

 A single insane valuation will drive a player's apparent value up an entire round.

Dealing with data that doesn't seem to match the rest ("insane valuation") is a question of how you validate the data, not how you combine it. You're asking where the player should be drafted: drafting a guy at 100 vs 200 costs you, as a team, basically nothing. Drafting a guy at 1 vs 2 is a huge difference.

And that same effect happens for arithmetic means, too, just in the opposite direction. And for a player whose most common evaluation is near the top of the draft, the arithmetic mean has more lever arm to be damaging. Hence the reason why it's terrible.

72 Without any prior knowledge…

Without any prior knowledge of actual value, I'd be suspicious of anything too terribly far from the median. (Mahomes had no mode! Well... he had 15 modes.) IQR is interesting. Trubisky was 19-45, Watson was 20-28, and Mahomes was 26-52. But Mahomes's median was a little lower than Trubisky's -- 33 vs 37. Basically everyone agreed Watson was worth somewhere in the 20s. Both Trubisky and Mahomes were boom/bust guys on about the same order. Mahomes was generally thought to be in the 30s, and no one knew what to do with Trubisky. He's basically evenly sorted into 10s, 20s, 30s, and 40s.

As to who was right? Their circumstances were so different it's hard to say. If Trubisky goes to KC and Mahomes plays where offense goes to die, do they swap careers? How do you parse what Houston was doing?

75 Yeah, it's chicken-egg…

Yeah, it's chicken-egg problem. Bad teams are generally bad bc they have trouble drafting talent, but it's hard to say if they are bad at drafting(evaluating) or coaching(developing) that talent. Probably a bit of both. 

If we're talking about "what houston could have done", I'd probably just do 1,2,3 and take the mean, since only the order really matters. They were all something of a reach at 2, but the difference didn't matter much. 

76 I tend to lean in the…

I tend to lean in the direction that its the player who makes the team rather than the other way around. A recent example is Joe Burrow; who went to a team that was comically awful and whos coaching staff inspired 0 confidence. Similarly you could argue Deshawn Watson's success in Houston is another example. 

77 Even Joe Burrow was going to…

Even Joe Burrow was going to die on the bench until he transferred from Ohio State to LSU. 

He was stranded behind Braxton Miller, Cardale Jones, JT Barrett, Dwayne Haskins, and in all likelihood Justin Fields.

Houston's hard to say. BOB was a terrible GM, but he also coaxed the only useful season out of Christian Hackenberg. All I know is if I throw the ball, I want to be on Andy Reid's team.

79 Huh? We do have prior…

Huh? We do have prior knowledge. We absolutely know that production steeply falls off with draft position, on average. If someone says person A is the best player in the draft and person B says he's the 10th, the average of those two should be lower than 5 if you believe both equally, because the performance expectation for 1 is way higher. 5.5 as an average wouldn't make any sense.

With reference to "who was right" the entire point is that Trubisky was not the top QB prospect. Watson was, pretty clearly, but there were a few *very* low valuations that pulled his ordinal ranking up. Plus also everyone seemed to think Trubisky would be drafted first, even though Watson was ranked better.

Trubisky being picked 2nd was a much bigger reach than Mahomes. There were absolutely plenty of rankings that had Mahomes right around where he was picked. Not really true for Trubisky.

80 Heres one rebuttal I have…

Heres one rebuttal I have. You can agglomerate all these mock drafts, but to a varying degree, some should be weighted higher than others by the simple fact that they either have more advanced and systematic grading systems or have access to the general managers and scouts who do this kind of work. Effectively, a weighted score based on resources by shop.

When I said Trubisky was the top ranked prospect, that came mostly from ESPN. So I decided to survey the top draft nicks at that time who qualified with those attributes listed above.

PFF - Trubisky ranked 10th, Watson 13, Mahomes 23rd

Mel Kiper - Trubisky 19th, Watson 34th, Mahomes 26th

McShay - Trubisky 27th, Watson 28th, Mahomes 44th

Mike Mayock - Trubisky 30th, Watson 20th, Mahomes 32nd 
 

That feels like a consensus that Trubisky was the top ranked prospect; with the typically iconoclast Mike Mayock serving as the exception. 

 

 

82 Is there any evidence that…

Is there any evidence that these "top" draftniks are actually any better at it than others? I see a lot of dismissing GM draft records as "they get lucky in a crapshoot" (generalizing not claiming they're your words) but mock draft guys seem to be treated better for some reason

84 Same could be asked for GMs

But evidence all around says no one individual is much better than another. Multiple independent individuals coming to a similar conclusion is generally correct more often than individual GMs/teams (ie Gruden Raiders like Alex Leatherwood et al).

But go elsewhere and the defense of teams is heeeeaaaaavy (Tanier is getting attacked on Twitter for this article actually). They think everyone outside is stupid and no one should question their GM because they aren't GMs. As if they have secret hidden tape no one else can watch. Oh, sorry, is everything determined by medicals (that we hear about anyway, yet each teams doctors come to wildly different conclusions) and scouts asking if their moms a prostitute? Sometimes our 10000 foot view sans worrying about job security...isn't so bad!

In regards to Trubisky, many can still be biased. 

85 General consensus is that …

General consensus is that "experts"(drafniks and actual teams mostly) do better than random chance, but that there is a decent degree of luck involved. There is also the fact that we can't really seperate drafting and development since we have to use outcomes as the true talent baseline. (i.e. did a player do well/poorly relative to their draft slot bc of evaluation or coaching?)  That doesn't matter in general, but comes up for questions like this. (I.e. if the Bears take Watson, and Houston takes Trubisky ... does Trubisky then become elite and Watson doesn't impose moral dilemmas on the league?)

88 . There is also the fact…

. There is also the fact that we can't really seperate drafting and development since we have to use outcomes as the true talent baseline. (i.e. did a player do well/poorly relative to their draft slot

It's important to note that Trubisky actually didn't do bad relative to his ranking. He just did bad relative to where he was picked. If he had been picked #20 or later he's absolutely right in line with that projection. He's pretty close to his QBASE projection, with the difficulty that years 4/5 were culled by Bears ineptitude and his most successful year came right before the 'projection' kicks in.

The idea that Trubisky was a "bust" is only because he was picked #2 overall. The idea that Trubisky might've become "elite" somewhere else is, in some sense, missing the point - it's Watson and Mahomes who blew up their projections. The expectation for Trubisky pre-draft was never that he'd be elite.

89 Well, everyone expects first…

Well, everyone expects first round QB to be elite, esp if they are top 5.  You could say this isn't realistic, but it pretty much is what it is. Even though "average starter" is probably the most likely result even for a #1 pick, anyone who isn't elite gets the bust label. (Goff and Wentz anyone). This is a side effect of basically needing an elite(tier 1 or 2) QB to have much chance in the postseason. 

That said, Trubisky could be considered a bust bc he basically became a decent quality backup rather than even an average starter. 

 

90 Well, everyone expects first…

Well, everyone expects first round QB to be elite, esp if they are top 5.  You could say this isn't realistic, but it pretty much is what it is.

But no one projected Trubisky to be a top-5 player in the draft. Even from theslothook's "4 elite big boards" the draft average of his position was ~19th. Hence the reason why trading up and grabbing him 2nd was an insane reach.

Trubisky at 20 would've been basically reasonable. Maybe he underperformed a little, but not a ton - he was slightly below average (so decently above replacement) with the Bears, and outperformed Foles significantly on the same team. Obviously that's not a home-run hit or anything, but for a late first rounder that's pretty close to expectations (obviously his career's  not over, so it's not insane he could end up long-term at ~0% or so).

You also have to wonder whether Trubisky being drafted at 2 contributed to the Bears abandoning him so quickly.

83 but to a varying degree,…

but to a varying degree, some should be weighted higher than others by the simple fact that they either have more advanced and systematic grading systems or have access to the general managers and scouts who do this kind of work.

I understand the sentiment, but there's no real evidence that those 4 are more accurate in terms of predicted performance (not draft order) than the others. I wish I had the time to set up a proper database (the existing ones are extremely limited, mixing mock drafts and big boards and doing bizarre averages rather than just letting you get the distribution) to actually see what's the best way of combining them.

The other criticism of the "major talking heads" is that they're also targeted more by player agents (and disinformation from general managers!) so the whole "more advanced/systematic" etc. doesn't hold a ton of water. Fundamentally we're talking about dealing with people providing information for entertainment, not analytics.

But that's just my opinion there, obviously.

That feels like a consensus that Trubisky was the top ranked prospect;

Yeah, you and I have different definitions of "consensus" then. Even with just those 4, I'd say it shows no clear separation between Watson and Trubisky with Mahomes only slightly behind. Draft averaging (that's what I'm calling "harmonic mean via square roots" now) gives Trubisky 18.9, Watson 21.5, and Mahomes 29.8. Trubisky and Watson there are clearly compatible with each other there - both of them show spreads of something like +2/-4 ordinal ranks.

The other thing to note there, of course, is that even that list of 4 shows that Trubisky was much more of a reach than Mahomes was. Trubisky's top rank was 10th, and he was drafted 2nd: that's a reach of ~1300 draft points. Mahomes's top rank was 23rd and he was drafted 10th. That's less than half the gap.

86 Responding to everyone here…

Responding to everyone here.

To be 100 percent clear, I don't know if those four are any more accurate than a wider swath of draft Knicks. So I am not making that claim.

What I will claim is at least for McShay and Kiper - those guys set up their evaluations largely based on how NFL GMs and scouts view things. Both of them have given interviews in the past that a lot of their weighting of evaluations is driven by how NFL GMs and scouts think. Admittedly that thinking could be all wrong or biased or heavily flawed, But in effect, their big boards are a reflection of what the broader consensus of the NFL thinks. 

 

87 Both of them have given…

Both of them have given interviews in the past that a lot of their weighting of evaluations is driven by how NFL GMs and scouts think.

What do you think they'd say? "Eh, I just rank guys however I feel"? Kiper specifically has a reputation for close relationships with certain agents and there have definitely been allegations in the past. And, of course, GMs actively put out disinformation, and so of course they're also going to use the 'free publicity' talking heads the same way.

Now, I totally could understand weighting the paid scouting agencies higher, but with the free guys I don't think there's any reason to trust one group over another.

63 I wasn't trying to rank one…

I wasn't trying to rank one over the other, just to show how different they are.

The best option theoretically is to weight by the draft value chart. That's how much teams weight each ordinal value, so if you ordinally rank players, you weight by that and average. But the harmonic mean isn't a terrible option. You can imagine the inverse ordinal ranking as being "value relative to player 1" and averaging those (and converting back to an ordinal ranking) is just a harmonic mean.

edit: well, OK, I was trying to show how much the arithmetic mean sucks, because that's what everyone uses.

24 it's hard to believe that we…

it's hard to believe that we were part of the original Teams that started the NFL and over the last half of this century we have been bottom of the league mostly , looking like we have no idea what's going on

Well, technically, the Decatur Staleys were one of the original teams. Halas wasn't actually the original owner nor the founder of the team (the team dates to 1919 and was company-owned). Hell, the only founding team still operating under its original name is the Cardinals!

And your founder argument completely falls down given the existence of the Cardinals, who have been sadsack since day 0, when in the formation meeting of the AFPA their location was recorded incorrectly! (No city has ever wanted the Cardinals)

12 From how the last part of this article reads

So the Broncos helped young Elway not by signing him fancy new receivers, but by fixing the defense so he wasn't always playing catchup against teeing-off edge rushers?

13 Ergo

If the Bears' draft choices work out well, they'll help Fields one way or another regardless of what position they play. Including a lowly-drafted punter if he indeed does become a top punter who turns field position for you.

14 Possibility #2

The new Bears' guys have looked over all the game and practice tape, talked to their retained personnel staff, and decided 'Fields sure looks like another Winston/Mariota/Goff/Wentz/Trubisky/Mayfield/Darnold to us'. Meaning sure, he gets another season. But if you like anyone else better than your most-liked receiver right in that slot of the draft, heck no you don't take the lesser receiver because it sorta/kind/not really, dude, once you think it through helps this quarterback you don't actually believe all that much in microscopically more than improving some other part of your football team.

20 I am always here for Bears…

I am always here for Bears pessimism, particularly that which is directed at the most embarrassing ownership group in the NFL (non-criminal division). George McCaskey goes around deflecting hard questions by saying "I'm not a football guy" when his grandfather co-founded the NFL, for God's sake. And I appreciate some suggestions on what Poles should have done instead, rather than merely dumping on him and ignoring the state that Pace left the team in.

Still, with the exception of using the 2nd round picks on receivers who were on the board and reasonable to draft at that point, I am nevertheless left asking...what should he have done instead? Trading future assets to move into the first round would have been a bad idea. As you mention, the offensive line is also suspect, but if you're using the 2nd round picks on receivers then you're not using them on O-line either, and is there really a huge difference in hit rate between 3rd round linemen and 5th-7th?

And if you assume the Bears are just tanking for a 2023 quarterback

If they are, then Poles should be fired before the team ever plays a game. I don't pretend to know what Poles really thinks of Fields but if it is so negative that he's already made up his mind that Fields isn't the answer, then it's malpractice to do anything but trade him. Surely he would have commanded significant assets prior to the draft, if not now.

The sad fact is that the best case scenario left for the Bears is that Fields blossoms into a really good QB and the team will be ready to win with him at the point when they have to pay him $45 million a year or whatever the going rate is by then. The idea of using a rookie QB contract to maximize a winning window was never realistic thanks to how bad the rest of the team has been for year.

32 They can't really trade…

They can't really trade Fields. It's hard to think they could even do a proper evaluation at this point.  Basically, everyone will ask "Why are you trading a guy on a rookie contract" and the fans will kill them for getting a late rounder.  And if they trade him and ends up doing well somewhere else, lots of people get fired. So....they are basically stuck with him. 

73 Oh, I don't think they…

Oh, I don't think they should trade Fields. But the idea that they have looked at Fields, decided he's not the answer, and are going to intentionally sabotage him to maybe get a pick high enough to draft their preferred QB in 2023 is even more ridiculous. Plus, at least before the draft, I think it's more likely that they could have gotten a (late/future) 1st rounder for Fields than that they only would have gotten a late round pick. I heard multiple people saying that Fields, with the bad rookie year, would still have been QB1 on most draft boards if he was available. (Again...I wouldn't want them to trade Fields. Just saying that if Poles and company had decided that he wasn't their QB, the right move would be to disregard the 2 first rounders used by the previous regime to acquire him and get whatever they could for him).

I agree that they're "stuck with him," but in the sense that he currently represents their best chance at a top NFL QB. So then it comes back to the question of the approach they're taking. I'm uneasy with it, but taking into account the disaster they were given and that Pace traded up for Fields at basically the worst possible time, I'm not willing to say it's definitively the wrong approach.

81 It'd be wild to come to that conclusion

without even seeing him at a practice. Maybe we're not such idiots.

But outside of Rosen whens the last time a traded for QB in the 1st got traded a year later? Rosen fetched 2.62 and 5.153. Not a good return but the Cardinals had someone to immediately start right away in Kyler. For Chicago it's...uh...post draft it's Trevor Siemian? I guess Foles asked to be released once they realized they weren't going that way. You'd be QBless and no owner is going to accept that.

There's a chance that he can still take a step with some more exp but it seems quite clear that they'll be screaming he wasn't their guy in a couple years which is great for them and their job security and the compensation wouldn't have been worth resetting the clock so early (why Gute and Lafleur didn't pick a QB right away, all about job security). 

43 Still, with the exception of…

Still, with the exception of using the 2nd round picks on receivers who were on the board and reasonable to draft at that point, I am nevertheless left asking...what should he have done instead?

Obviously there's no guarantee it would work, but the Bills' approach was to shotgun low-cost veteran wideouts onto the roster, hoping to reach a baseline level of competence at the position so we could evaluate Allen. Just look at the parade of guys who came through there before we were able to land Diggs and make a jump. Guys like Isaiah McKenzie, Kelvin Benjamin, Jeremy Kerley, Terrelle Pryor, Duke Williams, John Brown, Cole Beasley, etc. Most of them didn't work out, but the key was that they didn't have to learn their position at the same time Allen was learning his.

If I was Poles, I would have probably taken a run at some of the cheaper wideouts who changed teams this year: Landry, JuJu, James Washington, Jamison Crowder, etc. Adam Humphrey and Cole Beasley are still available FWIW. Are they game changers? Not hardly, but they at least know where the sticks are on 3rd down and will likely read the defense correctly on most snaps.

44 Not suggesting it's a bad…

Not suggesting it's a bad strategy, but if the Bears had done just that, Mike Tanier would probably be lampooning them for it. "You guys ordered the wide receiver poopoo platter, so now you think your job is done"

And btw, it's very possible guys like Juju who value themselves in high regard would intentionally avoid Chicago, a place not exactly known for receiver highlights.

Tbh, I don't think the Bears could do much given where they are and even if they had followed Tanier's advice, I am not convinced in terms of EV it would have amounted to much of a difference.

67 Poo-poo platter

Or Mike might've looked back 21 years, when "Poo-poo platter" would've been one of the more generous evaluations for Belichick's truckload of bargain-basement FA signings prior to the 2001 season.

78 Mike Tanier would probably…

Mike Tanier would probably be lampooning them for it. "You guys ordered the wide receiver poopoo platter, so now you think your job is done"

Maybe he's an irrational hater, but the Jaguars basically did the same thing (for STUPID, LEAGUE-ALTERING MONEY) and Tanier shrugged at it.

And btw, it's very possible guys like Juju who value themselves in high regard would intentionally avoid Chicago, a place not exactly known for receiver highlights.

Possibly, but the same was true of Buffalo in 2018. I just threw Juju out there as an example of someone who signed cheap but has played enough snaps that you aren't also training them up. Kinda like a scientific study trying to control for a single variable. Get a WR corps that knows what they are doing, and if the QB still looks lost - it's him.

74 Yeah, this is probably the…

Yeah, this is probably the single thing that has disappointed me the most about Poles so far. I have seen a lot of decent WRs sign relatively cheap, short-term deals and wondered why the Bears didn't pursue them. (Personally, I wouldn't want Beasley on my team at any price).

Of course, the flip side is that I don't know if some of these free agents were pursued by the Bears and chose another team instead.

71 In their defense

there was no need for a punt the season strategy. That offense was going to be horrible even if they'd drafted nothing but receivers and offensive linemen. Can't draft your way out of a complete lack of talent. Can't sign your way out of it either, thanks to Pace's New Orleans style accounting.

This year was going to be bad no matter what they did. The DBs are mainly to try to motivate/replace Eddie Jackson so they can trade him (ideally) or cut him (dead cap number is horrible in 2022; palatable in 2023). Quinn's main cap hits are also gone after 2022. He's another trade or cut candidate (should be trade; he's still good and worth something to a contender mid-season). Jackson and Quinn are by far their highest paid players, and they'd have been gone this off-season if it wasn't for the 2022 cap hits. Beyond them, their cap is pretty clean and they can start over.   

It's still a self-serving strategy, Fields is still probably fucked through no fault of his own (there's always the year 3 jump.... start writing the articles now), and drafting Jones still looks dumb, but it's not like they had better options. Blow it up and re-build for the first year Rodgers is out of the division. Any season now....

91 what are the odds Fields just isn't good?

Tremendously huge fan of your work MT, followed you across many sites...

This seems like a lot of architecture obscuring a very likely scenario that Fields just isn't very good. The bust rate on QBs is high, he was the 4th QB taken in his class, and his numbers in year 1 were historically terrible. 

It's also strange that the multiple comments made across articles about the Bears not having a first round pick don't mention that's because the Bears traded away that pick for Fields. (A decision that was universally praised when it happened.)

Then last summer we had a weird national moral crisis about Fields not being the day one starter, which seemed... justified. But Nagy became a NFL Twitter hate figure so onward. 

The Bears aren't a good team, they don't have a great history, they don't have many 2022 options and so on. But also Fields probably just isn't good. 

 

94 What are the odds Lawrence isn't good?

It's also strange that the multiple comments made across articles about the Bears not having a first round pick don't mention that's because the Bears traded away that pick for Fields. (A decision that was universally praised when it happened.)

You answered your own musing. Why talk about something universally praised already? 

Then last summer we had a weird national moral crisis about Fields not being the day one starter, which seemed... justified. But Nagy became a NFL Twitter hate figure so onward. 

And I would say the way their was no chemistry between receivers when he did play, was...because what do you expect from a guy that doesn't get 1st team reps til week 3. Plenty of other film grinders can attest to the play calling not suiting but I digress. 

 

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