*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
This was quite the strange game. Everybody down on Arizona and getting more excited by the Bears (defense). Chicago was a -6.0 favorite at one point during the week…on the road. The Cardinals had scored 6 points all season through two weeks.
After the first two series, the Cardinals led 14-0.
The Bears clawed their way back to a 16-14 lead late. Arizona pulled Sam Bradford after he fumbled on a drive trying to take the lead. Josh Rosen was suddenly inserted for the final two drive attempts.
Rosen was moving the team OK, and then around midfield, the Cards faced a 3rd & 2 with about 2 minutes remaining. They ran the ball. Oh, and David Johnson was not in the game. Chase Edmonds was caught in the backfield forcing a punt. Brilliant personnel usage…so tricky.
The Bears, of course, played their radical wild-style of offense with Arizona having three timeouts left…by that I mean they ran three straight times to nowhere and barely ran any clock and were forced to punt. Rosen had one last chance. He threw a pick-six to get me the betting win/cover, but it was called back for a defensive offsides by a hair. The drive/clock ended harmlessly, and Chicago escaped with a win to move to 2-1 and sudden 1st-place tie in the NFC North.
The Bears are lucky they are not 1-2…but they really should be 3-0. I just need five more wins out of this group for the season win total over/under. Look at the next six games – TB, BYE, @MIA, NE, NYJ, @BUF, DET. Suddenly the Pats game looks reasonable, but give them a loss there. Pick a road game for a loss. They should emerge from the next six games, 4-2 in that stretch…and be 6-3 after nine games…needing one more win to payoff all our bets on the 6.5 ‘over’ win total.
Looking at then rest of the schedule…@NYG, @SF are targets for that 7th win as well a home game vs. MIN. Barring a QB injury or a Kalil Mack injury they should be fine for 7+ wins…this Arizona win was crucial to winning the over/under bet for 2018. They should go 8-8+ this season.
You laughed about the QB/Trubisky getting hurt part. We’ll address that in the player notes.
Arizona is 0-3, but now going with Josh Rosen. They have the 49ers twice in the next five weeks. Their schedule is such that the Cards could be 3-5 before their Week 9 BYE. They are going to be hard-pressed to get to 6.0 wins, but I don’t think that’s dead yet. I think Arizona is about to get interesting/tougher ahead. We’ll get into the ‘whys’ in the player section.
Fantasy Player Analysis…
-- OK, Mitchell Trubisky (24-35 for 220 yards, 0 TD/1 INT)…
One of the lighting rod players for 2018. I projected his breakout and fantasy usefulness by now…and we’ve gotten nothing of the sort happening.
I said Trubisky is the best college QB prospect I’ve ever scouted but so far, and he looks like Alex Smith to you. You made a move for him in dynasty, ignored other options to roll with Trubisky…and that looks dumb at this stage.
All the Bears’ fans out there are disgusted. Once filled with hope on my tantalizing words about Trubisky. Obviously, I don’t know what I’m talking about…you stew, while watching him.
I’ll hit all your concerns here…
First things first, I was wrong. OK. I’ll admit it – I was wrong. Sometimes, you have to just pony up/fess up. Sometimes you just gotta fold your cards and move on. I’m a big enough football adult to do that. Once I admit this error, it opens up the pinball effect on all the other issues. Yes. I was wrong – Matt Nagy is not an interesting head coach hire…he’s a total disaster as a head coach/offensive play caller.
I knew I should’ve stuck with my first instinct here, but I talked myself into his surrounding cast of coordinators and all the talent they brought in. My first instinct studying Nagy was – anything from the Andy Reid tree is immediately cause for concern, and I saw what Nagy did as the play-caller late for KC last season, when everyone hailed him, and it was more of the same Chiefs/Reid garbage we’d seen only worse. Nagy literally blew the playoff game vs. Tennessee with his conservative/scared play calling. Nagy has been the same guy for his last 4 games coached, three with Chicago – a couple cute plays early, a nice initial spark, then a bland offense trying to run out the clock for 2-3 quarters on a win…only to lose too many times.
Nagy got a big lead vs. the Titans in the playoffs (21-3 at the half) and proceeded to lose 22-21. Got up 20-0 on Green Bay, lost 24-23 in Week 1. Got up 10-3 on Seattle, had to hold on to win in the end. Was down 14-0 here, got back 16-14…and luckily held on to the win.
The Bears do not have a Mitchell Trubisky problem – they have a Matt Nagy problem. It’s the same story for every game. His debut as a play caller vs. the Jets last year…out of the gates 14-0…lost 38-31.
Mitchell Trubisky has a problem – it’s Matt Nagy.
You own Trubisky heavy for fantasy/dynasty…you have a Trubisky problem because he has a Nagy problem.
For years under Andy Reid, the Chiefs were the same team…boring West Coast. Try to win through safe offense and good defense. Alex Smith was the perfect quarterback for KC. You win a lot of games. Under-utilize weapons. Jump out to leads and sit on them to the end. Lose the big games in the playoffs because you can’t answer the bell in crisis to great teams. The system wins a lot of games…but it’s bad for fantasy football. Tyreek Hill was underutilized for two seasons by Andy Reid before Patrick Mahomes has now opened everything up. How do you mess up Tyreek Hill? Go watch KC games in 2016. Hill would rush for a 70+ yard TD on his first touch in the 1st-quarter and then he’d not get a carry the rest of the game.
Many NFL teams play this same style. All the cleverness of the preparation week is on spilled out in the first few drives, and then they go back to being the same team they always are for the rest of the game.
I watched this Arizona game on the ‘All-22’ view on every Trubisky throw, the same way I watched last week’s game…and I saw the same thing last week as this week – receivers are running the same dull routes. Sprint 5-7 yards and turnaround and plant for a timing throw. When they get it – they are easily tackled, but they do get 4-5-6 yards, but no real YAC opportunity because the defenders are draped over them because they know what’s coming. Sometimes a receiver on the far side will not stop and turn/plant but sprint deep, but Chicago does not have a ‘#1 guy’ at WR to make that work a lot. It’s the same dull passing routes over and over, and with no guys running in stride for Trubisky to hit for big activity after the catch. It’s mostly all bang-bang throws -- stop and turn timing throws and then a quick tackle. There is 0.0% innovation in the KC offense after the first drive or two. You might see a cute wrinkle first series and then nothing after that.
What do you want Trubisky to do with that? Most of the time nothing is open except the turnaround timing pass – of which, he has to throw; and he hits it. He’s completing 69.2% of his passes. The Bears have converted 40% on 3rd-downs. The have converted two 4th-down, 3rd best in the league (early). They are middle of the pack in PPG (21.0).
I always liked Kansas City kickers (pre-Mahomes) because I could count on good offensive movement between the 20s and then drives stalling out to FGs. When the Chiefs needed ‘a play’ in the red zone when the money was on the line, they’d fail and settle for three. KC led the NFL in FG’s made in 2017. And were top 7 in FGs in both 2015 and 2016.
The Bears are currently second in the league in FGs made.
The sleeper emerging from this offense…kicker Cody Parkey.
I watched this game in great detail, much like I’ve done all Trubisky’s games because I’m invested. I’d argue this was one of his best performances. He’s making laser beam throws in the middle of the field…and most QBs don’t go there. On rare occasion when a receiver does sprint open – Trubisky is identifying it quick and trying to make the throw. He hit on a few real nice placement passes medium range in this game. Throws many QBs cannot/will not make because they don’t have the arm/release. He also took more shots deep than I’ve seen him do prior…I think he’s getting antsy and wanting to open up. Nothing was open deep. He made smart throws mostly on deep balls (to no avail).
Your football perspective on Trubisky is warped. He’s actually playing really well given his offense. Better than I would have expected. He’s got such talent he makes this dullsville offense work enough because he can fire those 5-7 yards and turn throws before defenders can react, even though they are right there next to the WR.
From a football perspective…we’re fine on Trubisky.
From a fantasy perspective, we have YUUUUGE problems.
Matt Nagy is making Trubisky into Alex Smith 2.0. That’s limiting enough for fantasy, but I worry that Trubisky never breaks out of that…he becomes conditioned to it. He’s stuck with Nagy for 3-4 years at least – the best years of his development are going to be thrown away potentially. I could see Trubisky breaking out of it someday and forcing the Bears to change to him, but right now he’s in the worst fantasy offense with problems surrounding him with his weapons (I’ll get into that). Sam Darnold has a better offense for him than Trubisky does.
For fantasy, I’m holding Trubisky in dynasty if I can as a QB3 waiting for a turn because he could be a Hall of Famer if set loose, but he’s being trained not to be Mahomes but to be Alex Smith. If he’s my QB2, my young guy hope for the future in dynasty – I’m moving on to Baker Mayfield as the apple of my eye for fantasy/dynasty production (and who knows what Hue will do to him, but I don’t think Mayfield will allow it…Trubisky will/does).
I talked a big game on Trubisky, and now it looks like it’s not going to pay-off. It’s not going to right now for fantasy, it looks like…not for a while. You go where I was right for QB play – go get Jared Goff or Baker Mayfield while the price is down, or you’re stuck just waiting on Trubisky…but it might be a while/years. I’m quasi-folding right now where I can on Trubisky in dynasty. Why? There are too many other great QBs emerging. I don’t have time to watch ‘All-22’s’ to make nuanced debates on his quality of play vs. play calling/route running.
Nagy has been screaming at us he’s the issue here, so let’s react to that and move on to higher ground where we can. Hate Trubisky in this if you want, I don’t care. For fantasy we gotta react and move on. The situation is telling us there is a problem, whatever that problem is.
-- Let me talk about two weapons right now as proof of a Bears offense problem…
Tarik Cohen (5-53-0, 3-15-0/3) is not being used in an interesting manner at all. The sure sign of a lack of a radical offensive mind. Cohen should be Austin Ekeler+. He should be seeing 7+ targets a game all over the field. He’s not even close to that. He’s a funny gimmick…like they have one play they do something creative, and then never again in a game.
I’m out on Cohen because Nagy is forcing me out in redraft for sure.
Also, Allen Robinson (3-50-0/7) looks terrible. The guy who was brilliant in 2015, making all kinds of circus catches on jump balls, etc. – that guy does not exist. He looks like he could care less. Passes go his way and he doesn’t adjust or fight for them. He’s just a ‘decent’ option…the tallest option for the Bears. Maybe he needs time coming off his knee surgery, but he looks like a guy ‘paid’ and not taking any chances. THIS IS TRUBISKY’S MAIN OPTION!!! He is doing Trubisky no favors at all.
If I have ARob in fantasy, I’m getting other plans in place. This offense doesn’t produce TDs and Robinson looks otherwise uninterested in making plays. I see no ‘pop’ in his routes or YAC.
-- Taylor Gabriel (6-34-0/10) is the one guy trying to provide a spark. I see Trubisky trying to make this work, but Arizona did a good job covering him because he’s the only guy running deep…and they were all over it with a safety over.
Gabriel’s averaging 5.0 catches per game. He had 10 targets here, 7 targets + 4 carries last week. A guy is getting 10+ opportunities in a game…something is going to happen eventually. With Allen Robinson such a zero…Gabriel is the one guy Trubisky can try to breakout of his shell on.
I can see moving on from Gabriel, as some have been doing, but I’m telling you…there will be a moment ahead where he has a big play and then we wake up and he’s the best Bears WR for fantasy…which might mean WR3, but still…
-- Is Josh Rosen (4-7 for 36 yards, 0 TDs/1 INT) an answer in place of Trubisky long-term/dynasty? I dunno, maybe.
Rosen is talented, but he’s not as talented as Mayfield or Trubisky. But he is talented, part of the new breed…the Mahomes, Mayfield, ‘I don’t give a damn, this is easier than college’ type of style of play.
Rosen has hope, but I also sit and look at Steve Wilks and multi-failure OC Mike McCoy and wonder “How can this be good for fantasy?”
-- Christian Kirk (7-90-0/8) is going to be a star in PPR. The better Golden Tate. How fast it happens with Rosen and what this offense looks like with him…unknowns. I think Kirk will be a hit though, regardless…just like his game here. He is one of the smoothest young WRs I’ve ever seen. Courtland Sutton is more gifted all the way around, but Kirk may be the most technically sound young WR I’ve watched hit the pros.
-- I’m shocked by all he people bailing on David Johnson (12-31-0, 4-30-1/4). Maybe, you/they will be right, and DJ doesn’t break out of this new offense’s shell. But Rosen provides hope and DJ can start being DK3K again.
People are making deals all over in redraft for Johnson with a RB2 valuation. People taking Carlos Hyde for DJ. Alex Collins + Javorius Allen for DJ, I just saw. If you want in on David Johnson cheap, right now is the time…before Rosen provides any hope.
-- Cards IDP DE Benson Mayowa (5 tackles) looks like the most menacing DE in the NFL. He’s a monster. I wrote about it last week and here we are again – he started/played 84% of the snaps with Markus Golden back. Super sleeper IDP is Mayowa. So impressive.
-- Speaking of impressive…the Cardinals defense?
Held Jordan Howard to 61 yards/2.5 ypc.
Gurley to 42 yards and 2.2 ypc
Week 1 Adrian Peterson…96 yards, but 3.7 ypc.
This is a good run defense. Got smacked by the Rams, overall, as you might expect. Gave up 21 points to Washington in the 2nd-quarter, shut them out the other three quarters. Held the Bears to 16 points. Their offense has been so bad it puts pressure on the defense…and the defense has held ground a lot. A change at QB might light the candle on this very talent rich defense.
Wilson-Beathard-Cousins-Keenum-Beathard. Seattle the most sacked team in the NFL, the 49ers one sack away from the tied for first as well. Keenum the master of turnovers.
I think the Arizona-DST is a sleeper about to be woken. I wouldn’t bet my life on it, but I’d start taking bets.
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Snap Counts of Interest:
62 = Mayowa
12 = Markus Golden
04 = Hasson Reddick
01 = Deone Bucannon
46 = Howard
30 = Cohen