ESPN Insider = lunacy

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by Henry Burris, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. Henry Burris

    Henry Burris Head Coach

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    Rookies. They're the shiny new toy that teams and fans love to see on the playing field. They offer hope and promise a better future every time they make a play, while their flaws are often written off as growing pains.

    But which teams got the most out of their rookies this year? Using the PFF snap counts there's a big disparity between how much usage each team got out of them, and an even bigger disparity in how they graded out.

    Getting Playing Time

    When a season is coming to an end and there's little hope of the playoffs, it makes sense for that team to plug their rookies in. So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that the Atlanta Falcons had their rookies on the field the most. They didn't use as many players as theGreen Bay Packers (they had 14 rookies on offense or defense take at least one snap) but their total rookie snap count was unmatched. It was chiefly the defense that needed an injection of youth. Desmond Trufant finished second on the unit with 1,022 snaps while linebackers Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu both ended up with over 700.

    Perhaps the most interesting team, and the only member of the top 20 still left in the playoffs, are the New England Patriots. They used 13 different rookies and had the second highest total snap count, with their midseason defensive tackle pairing of Chris Jones andJoe Vellano combining for 1,464 snaps. For the sake of comparison, Denver had the lowest numbers of rookies used (four) and lowest number of rookie snaps (1,123) so this weekend will see a clash between two organization's in very different places.

    How They Graded

    There's no exact science to grading rookies across different positions but we've added up the grades of each player and here's the best and worst of the bunch. This isn't based on long-term projection, but solely the immediate impact they had in 2013. Some team will no doubt be better off for letting their rookies take their lumps this year.

    The Best

    1. Arizona Cardinals (+34.3) The Cardinals are not a team that jumps off the page, especially when you consider they lost their presumed starting left guard, and top pick, Jonathan Cooper in the preseason. But a couple of late-round picks stepped up and made an immediate contribution and none more so than Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate Tyrann Mathieu. The Honey Badger had the tricky task of playing safety in their base package (236 snaps) and moving to the slot in nickel (525 snaps) but excelled in both roles before ending up on injured reserve. Along with Mathieu the team got excellent play from Andre Ellington and his 5.5 yards per carry average. His work in the open field was a real difference maker.

    2. Detroit Lions (+30.0) Talk about hitting some home runs. The team was extremely successful on the offensive line where Larry Warford (third-round pick) would play every offensive snap and earn second team all-pro honors from PFF. Next to him the team was forced to turn to undrafted free agent rookie right tackle LaAdrian Waddle and was rewarded with a guy who looked better than a number of first rounders. An impactful run blocker he also finished a healthy 41st out of 76 in our pass-blocking efficiency metric. The team also got production (although his sack numbers flattered him) out of Ziggy Ansah (minus-0.7 grade on 581 snaps) and Devin Taylor (plus-0.5 on 308 snaps) on the defensive line. Back on offense Joseph Fauria may not own the best yards-per-route-run score (his 1.19 was worse than only five others) but the redzone threat finished sixth of all tight ends with seven TDs and was easily the best dancer in the rookie class.

    3. Carolina Panthers (+21.2) The team went into the draft with a plan. They knew their defensive tackles were a weak spot and in need of an immediate upgrade. So they attacked the position, finding run-stuffer Star Lotulelei and a penetrator in Kawann Short. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Lotulelei may never be an every-down player but he's already one of the best interior linemen in the league against the run, earning the sixth highest grade of all defensive tackles in this facet of his game, while also finishing with the second highest run stop percentage (12.9 percent) of his peers. Short would finish 16th overall in this regard but may have more upside in this pass-happy league as he finished in the top 10 in our pass-rushing productivity metric for defensive tackles with 36 quarterback disruptions on 328 pass rushes. The team will be disappointed with the lack of production from Wes Horton who failed to adequately fill in at defensive end, but also added a undrafted free agent starter in Melvin White (minus-1.8 on 697 snaps) and nickel package safety in Robert Lester (plus-5.3 on 301 snaps). This is the kind of draft that turns a team from the butt of jokes to a division-winner.
    The Worst

    1. Chicago Bears (-76.0) The Bears are an example of a transition team that got their rookies a lot of experience -- much more than they probably would have liked -- and that ultimately played a part in them not making the playoffs. They only used nine rookies but two saw nearly every down and three more had significant roles as injuries hit. The right side of their offensive line was the most notable injection of youth, and while Kyle Long had an up and down year, right tackle Jordan Mills just couldn't get going. His struggles with speed off the edge insured his QB was hurried in the pocket. No lineman allowed more pressure than the 78 combined sacks, hits and hurries he did. On defense the team wasn't expecting Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene to see a combined 850 snaps, nor David Bass to play 317 snaps of his own. But with Henry Melton going down andLance Briggs and D.J. Williams battling injuries that's exactly what happened. It didn't go well with Bostic, our second lowest ranked middle linebacker. Greene earned the sixth lowest grade of all 4-3 outside linebackers on a fraction of the snaps of those above him, and Bass finished in the bottom 10 at the defensive end spot. This team will be better for their experiences, but it killed them in 2013.

    2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-46.2) The shame for the Bucs is they did get some immediate return. Before going down with injury Mike James was making some plays and in limited appearances earned a 39.9 elusive rating that would have seen him finish above Reggie Bush, Matt Forte and Le'Veon Bell. The problem was (and again this problem could be a long term benefit) starting a rookie quarterback is rarely a good thing, with Mike Glennon flashing between moments of competence and stretches that made you want to smack your head into a desk. A bigger issue came on the nose though asAkeem Spence just wasn't ready for the demands placed on him. Expected to be a run-stuffing, early down player he finished with the 10th lowest run defense grade of defensive tackles to go with the worst pass rushing productivity score out there.

    3. New England Patriots (-38.7) New England certainly wasn't afraid to put its rookies on the field, and in some cases that was extremely justified. Logan Ryan made plays and Jamie Collinsgrew with the more playing time he got. But situational rusher Michael Buchanan was such a flop they had to call Andre Carter back with Buchanan earning just 10 QB disruptions on 104 pass rushes. The plan to give Tom Brady more weapons just didn't pan out. Zach Sudfeld was quickly cut in season, Aaron Dobson had the fifth highest drop rate of wide receivers and Josh Boyce averaged just 0.98 yards per route run (if he'd run enough routes that would have been the 10th lowest rate). Then there is Chris Jones who put some sacks on the board but earned a catastrophic run-stuffing grade that was worse than any other defensive tackle.
    Literally no one else is criticizing the right side of the line, and PFF (among others) has graded the offensive line significantly higher than ESPN, so when it comes down to: what I've seen + what everyone else is saying vs. what espn is saying, I'm going to have to assume ESPN is being idiotic here. Honestly, the only REALLY BAD games the right side of the line had were against the Browns and Eagles, and they played below average/what was expected against the Rams and Packers, but there is NO WAY they played as bad as ESPN is saying they are. If they were that bad, they would need competition brought in for the job, and Emery has made no hint of doing so; in fact, he seems pleased with their performance.
  2. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    Agree, Henry. I too have read some critical stuff about the Bears right OL (Mills in particular) but that criticism wasn't justified in my mind by the "eye test". Not saying Mills and even Long didn't struggle at times but they were generally solid all things considered and a major step forward from the disaster we had last year (especially Carimi) or in preseason (Webb was a mess at RT like he was previously at LT). They should only improve with experience and time together.

    It reminds me of FA a year ago when we told after signing Bushrod that he "graded out not much better than Webb" at LT was therefore a waste of money. Well, Bushrod is no All-Pro LT but once again the eye test this year told a very different story than the grading metrics. JB was a major upgrade over what we had previously and was a solid T which Webb clearly was not ever.

    Sometimes the "numbers" say one thing but your eyes paint a very different picture.
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  3. ZifanQ

    ZifanQ Pro-Bowler

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    It's because Kromer's scheme envoles hurries as part of the scheme so Cutler can step up in the pocket afaik, and that's why Mills/Bushrod is gtting those bad grades..

    Just another case of ESPN being pure shit
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  4. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That's a great point. And it's not just ESPN. Statistics have their place in grading players, but it's not the end-all definitive measuring stick. I am a big believer in the "eye test" too. You just know what you see with your own eyes, and that sometimes doesn't fit with the stats that people throw out like this ESPN thing.
  5. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    not ESPN's grading, but PFF's, and it is PFF's fundamental flaw when grading DL/OL. They put WAY to much stock in hurries/disruptions and not NEAR enough on actual sacks. Speaking of rookies though, this team would have been far better off w/Alec Ogletree/Warford in the 1st/2nd then Long/Bostic. Ogletree had 100+ tackles, a sack or so and an int; best rookie MLB by far of the ones talked about being drafted by the Bears. The rest were all lumped into a similar grouping. While Long was impressive as hell this year, Warford was every bit as good.
  6. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I think they went with Long because they believed that he has the higher ceiling. He came to the NFL with a lack of experience, so it was amazing that he was a good as he was this season, and of course he has a long long way to go - pun intended :-). We'll just have to see how these players do over the next few years.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014
  7. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    That write up made green and Bostic seem ok, but Mills was the second coming of Carimi.

    The line that was so bad that our offense had one of the best years EVER.

    That just does not add up.
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  8. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    And the fact that Long will eventually be a Tackle. Warford is purely a G.
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  9. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    It's assumedd Long will be a T, right now nothing points to that. Got to remember what Kromer wants out of his G's, and Long fits that G bill. He COULD be a future T, but nothing says he WILL be.
  10. MPbears68

    MPbears68 Pro-Bowler

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    Of course nothing is assured but Long has T potential whereas Warford doesn't. I've said this from the beginning, even when I was skeptical about the Long pick originally (I am glad to be proven wrong), that he was picked as high as he was because he has the athleticism and body style to play T as well should the need arise. The old mantra about "not drafting interior OLs in the 1st round" isn't nearly as true as it once was.
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  11. short faced bear

    short faced bear Assistant Head Coach DBS Writer

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    Whatever platitudes ESPN or Bleecher Report spew the fact remains: The O line was resurrected and with the young influx of talent have nowhere to go but up.

    AND the offense is only in it's first year.
  12. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    not as true as it was, but it's still true. IF Long moves to T, then the pick was deserved, if not and he stays G, then the team really screwed up b/c they had a Rhodes there for a backfield that was in need of him, and Alec there as a MLB on a team that needed him. He's panned out well, no doubt, but intior G's capable of playing at high levels are still found later, there is never a need to reach.
  13. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I agree 100%. Regarding Jordan Mills, it's a "reality check" to remember he's a 5th round rookie who was thrown into the fire due to our OL woes. There really was no viable "Plan B" this year. Add to that fact, he was lining up next to a rookie with very little college experience (a college baseball player with only 12 starts as a football player) - I think it was nothing short of amazing how he performed, under those circumstances. Mills will have an entire off-season to assimilate what he learned this year as a starter, and he will get physically better too. The playing time our two rookies received this year will prove very valuable in their 2nd season. There is no substitute for actual game reps, and these to guys got an entire rookie season of starting reps. It's priceless in their development moving forward now.
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  14. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    I have no problem w/how Mills or Long, or anyone on the OL played regarding pass pro, now the team had to use a lot of max protect much of the year to hide them; but when you have 2 rookies and a new system I think that's to be expected. I don't care of about hurries or disruptions either, the fundamental flaw of PFF grading system, so if they think Mills or anyone else on the OL had a problem in pass pro last year, and it's b/c of the hurries/disruptions then you can toss it out the window.

    What I will say is the OL isn't strong enough yet in the run pro and opening holes; better then in prev years, but it still needs a lot of help. watching Sea/SF yesterday showed what a dominant run OL looks like, and the Bears didn't resemble that much this year.
  15. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Ric I agree completely with your entire post, but REALLY liked the above part of it. I was soooooo envious of the blocking. Denver too. These teams were facing solid defenses, yet they moved people around like moving furniture. It was beautiful to watch. I have hopes that Kromer can get us to this level. I just love watching a great OL work.

    What also made me envious were the defenses. The Seattle defense in particular was like watching one of the great Bears defenses of the past. As I watched the final four teams play yesterday, it made an indelible imprint on my mind as to how high the bar is set for the Bears if they ever want to play with the "Big Boys" for final four championships again - and actually win a Super Bowl in modern times. I thought to myself that THIS is the reason why we haven't won a Super Bowl in over a quarter-century - you have to have the full-package. We have a ways to go yet.

    p.s. I know somebody will jump in here and point out the 2006 Super Bowl loss, and say we had a great team that year. To be honest, I thought we were "pretenders" that year and we got exposed in the SB.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
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  16. shark86x

    shark86x Pro-Bowler SuperFan

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    I agree with everything you've said here. I don't believe you can get there if you only have a really good O. You absolutely have to have a solid well-balanced team. The O has to be good, the D has to be good. ST has to be good. Yes this is an offense friendly league now, but you have to have a defense. We have a ways to go on all three sides of the ball, but our offense is close.

    I won't jump on you about 2006. We WERE pretenders. Our O fell apart and Dungy's crew picked our D apart like a thanksgiving turkey dinner. Where was that Arizona second-half performance then???
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  17. ZifanQ

    ZifanQ Pro-Bowler

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    Tbh all that talk is prety useless. I mean it's too late re-make the draft. Besides I'd rather had Bears trading up to get Alonso over Ogletree. If we could remake the draft I'd say Alonso first round, Warford, 2th.

    But let's look at the bright side.. How many would have liked to see Arthur Brown being drafted by us? Afaik he hasn't had a better year than Bostic.

    But yea the draft is done no way you can remake it, and it wasn't like the Bears was the only one missing out on Warford/Olgetree
  18. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Well I for one kept telling people you don't want a MLB in the 2nd, so I didn't want Brown, he didn't earn a starting spot, then again they weren't down a starting MLB so it's a pretty unfair comparisson. TBH, considering Brown wasn't starting he still got a forced fumble and a 1/2 a sack, Bostic got a fr, int and a sack but was starting for 1/2 a season; he also had 40 more tackles then Brown.

    No way the Bears could have traded up w/what 5 picks? But Rhodes/Ogletree were legit options. It's all in the past, but you have to look at them, kinda like Shea will always be looked at vs DeCastro, CJones and MWhitley.
  19. ZifanQ

    ZifanQ Pro-Bowler

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    True but that goes for the other teams aswell who missed on them. Some Jets fan(Hi Henry) might also QQ about how they picked Stephen Hill over Jeffery, or Rams with Brian Quick.
    At the end of the day I believe that luck has so much to do with the draft. Do you have the right player who can transform eassily into NFL, do you have the right teammates to "coach" you, do you have the right coach? Look at Tom Brady, if it wasn't for his (for lack of better word) mental will and Bill Belichick would be have been a HOF QB?

    There will also be those picks you just wish were different, but it aint gonna do you a favor for me at least it just makes me sad.

    Edit:
    This years draft will probably be no different, I kind of expect the Bears to be the first team to take a DT, there's 3 choices right now, Louis Nix, Hageman and Jernigan. So what if we picks Nix, and he turns out to be another prone injurie, but Hageman turns into this monster DT furture many times probowler and Jernigan turns into an above average? Or vice versa. :/
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2014
  20. JustAnotherBearsFan99

    JustAnotherBearsFan99 Coordinator SuperFan DBS Writer

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    That's a great quote I've never heard before today "picked our D apart like a thanksgiving turkey dinner"......I laughed out loud when I read that quote. Classic and true.

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