*Pre-editor post (forgive any typos)
I feel like Aaron Rodgers’s ‘agent’ Gabriel…I did not expect to be writing this TODAY, but here we are. (https://youtu.be/HbJV9jQmenc)
These two teams are now on a BYE…I was going to write about them Friday/Saturday because they have a smaller impact on this upcoming game week. However, now, they’re in the lead-off position of game recaps.
Where do I begin?
I can’t go to the well with more ‘I’m the greatest QB scout in the history of the world’ material…I just burned a lot of that celebrating Jared Goff. I can only throw myself so many ‘I’m the greatest’ parties…I already know I’m the best in the world at what I do – and still Michele Tafoya made more money last night than I will all year talking about football. I already know how good I am at this.
Do I use my allotted time to mock the mainstream football media and/or my own audience for not believing in me/in Trubisky after three weeks? Why? To what end? I need the football media to do exactly what they are doing today (I’ll get into that in a moment). They’re so easy a punching bag it has become beneath me to even mock them for being wrong…it’s too easy a target.
Do I apologize to Matt Nagy for blasting him as a terrible coach with a terrible offensive game plan last week only to watch him drop 38 in a half on the Buccaneers this week? Maybe. I dunno. I had to watch the tape because perhaps this is on the Bucs being even worse coached? We’ll get into that too.
No. No time for gloating and high-fiving here. There’s a more serious subject to tackle. It’s what you want to know. It’s what THEY are talking about. It’s a subject, a question that if one figures out the answer…if the answer to the question falls a certain way – it could win fantasy titles. Answered incorrectly will sucker punch you in the gut for the next 1-2+ weeks. You may never recover, fantasy-wise.
The question you are asking, and where the overall war/battlefield has shifted to on Trubisky individually is – Is this real, or a blip/Tampa Bay induced sugar-high?
The answer to that question affects Trubisky scouting going forward, and questions on Jordan Howard v. Tarik Cohen and on Allen Robinson v. Taylor Gabriel, and how much juice do you use to go after Cohen-Gabriel on waivers, do you re-chase Trubisky as a QB2/QB3 to become the next great QB1, do you trade for Howard low…do you panic going forward if you already own him, does Trey Burton really matter?
The right answer to these questions will change your fantasy life/situation. Playing the wrong answer is going to bottle you up for this week holding guys who aren’t playing this week, and next week you’ll get nervous to play them, and then if they don’t work out in Week 6 then you wasted two weeks of roster spots, but then you’ll wonder if you should have patience because you didn’t last time and now you might hold onto the dream longer and waste more roster space chasing this Week 4 vision.
How we all react to this is going to be critical. And many of you had one/all of Gabriel-Cohen-Trubisky coming into 2018, and you bailed, and for good reason, now you feel like your ex is sleeping with someone else and now you’re jealous…so you want ‘your guys’ back because you invested emotionally in them and once you quit they bloomed. You’re going to become fixated on these guys if you had such high hopes this preseason, had those hopes shat on for three weeks, so you pulled the plug and now they lost 50 pounds in a week and had cosmetic surgery and look like a Supermodel and you want them back. You want to right the wrong of the right you were chasing to begin the year. These are YOUR/OUR guys, how dare the prosper with another.
There’s a lot of emotions running high here…euphoria (if you held), regret (if you ditched any/all), shame, self-loathing, or invincibility (communicated with someone in a 2 QB league that was mocked for going with Goff-Trubisky before the season started…guess how many points his team scored this week?). We have to be careful.
We’re going to get into all of it, even if it takes me all day to write this. This write-up/study may be my only one for today because it’s going to take a lot out of me (I’m into hour 8 as I re-read this one last time). It’s going to be difficult to focus on that awful Steelers-Ravens event from SNF after this…and I want to watch KC-DEN in peace. So, this is likely the only recap for today…because it is literally EVERYTHING about planning the next two weeks ahead.
First, let’s look at the new battlefield… Is this real for the Bears? I can tell you this. I’ve seen on purpose or by accident 4-5 pieces of mainstream material and every one of them says the same thing. Basically, their message is “Everyone slowdown on the Bears. Come on it’s just one week. The Tampa Bay Bucs had more to do with this than the Bears.”
I checked three random ‘waiver wire priority’ mainstream articles and every one of them had Trubisky as either the 4th or 5th QB to consider. Alex Smith is someone they like better. Jameis Winston they like, because this could not be as delicious for me if the mainstream wasn’t simultaneously downplaying Trubisky and propping up Winston.
There is NO WAY any media outside of Chicago, and even inside, is going to jump on-board with both feet here. When you literally have no idea what you’re doing in fantasy/football scouting you take the easy, pragmatic approach of ‘it’s just one week’. Especially, when that thing that happened (Trubisky) defies everything they were told about how to scout the situation.
All the ‘it’s just one week’ people…said the same thing about Jared Goff last year and this year. And said it about Patrick Mahomes after Week 1. The word ‘visionary’ does not exist in their universe.
You already knew THEY were going to do that. Don’t try to change their minds on it…you’re wasting your time. You are smart…you want to know what I think. And I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt…I don’t know what will happen in Week 6.
I don’t know if the Bears mix things up more…or go back to a tired, predictable offense. I re-watched this, and a big part of this story – the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, like all NFL teams, played the Chicago Bears like the media has instructed them to…overplay Jordan Howard and force sucky Mitchell Trubisky to beat us. Nagy was fueling that fire with his game plan anyway…it was the smart way to go.
The first couple of drives…I could see all 11 Buccaneers in the TV broadcast camera shot on nearly every play. 7-8-9 in the box to play the run. Trubisky looked like 2018 Trubisky…struggling to find anyone open. Jordan Howard slamming into a wall. As time went on, the Bears dropped Trubisky back a step or two deeper, kept Tarik Cohen in the game a bunch, and the O-Line protected well – and Trubisky started exposing the holes. Tampa Bay adjusted some but way too late…the dam had broken.
The Bears did run some different patterns with WRs than I had seen before and got more guys running through routes instead of sprinting to a spot quickly and turning around for a 5-yard timing pass. The more the Bears opened up the better Trubisky got in this game.
So, did the Bears coaching staff learn? Will this be the new ‘norm’?
Well, I know Andy Reid would have games like this and get you all excited about Alex Smith and 2016 Tyreek Hill, and Spencer Ware – and then the next week it was back to the fantasy-frustrating grind.
You don’t think NFL coaches are mostly total idiots? Let me present you with this case…
On the other side of the field in this game was Dirk Koetter. His job is very much on the line. His career is too to some degree. We all expected the Buccaneers to go 0-3 to start 2018 and then shove Winston back in. However, the Bucs shockingly won their first two games. How? By the sheer force of Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick threw for 400+ yards three games in a row. He led the team to first place in the NFC South. He energized the fan base, the national media, the entire team. He was a top five MVP candidate. He has a 2-1 record, and nearly pulled off a 3-0 start. Literally, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2018 season start could not have gone any better thanks to one player – Ryan Fitzpatrick, even if lucky…it was working.
In Week 4, at Chicago, against the best defense in the NFL, in a game the Bucs defense was getting killed in…Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn’t pull any magic out to stop this Bears train for two quarters. One bad half against a great defense and an offense embarrassing you to the point people should be fired…and that was enough for Koetter to pull top five league MVP candidate Ryan Fitzpatrick and go with Jameis Winston – and he will do so Weeks 6-17 as well.
The best you’ve ever seen Tampa Bay look in years, due in large part to Ryan Fitzpatrick…and Dirk Koetter can’t switch away from something working so well fast enough. He gave up on a good thing working for weeks…giving up in all of one-half of football against a juggernaut. Why? Because the media says Jameis Winston is great and we know they’re never wrong, so he’ll group-think along with them and throw the season and his head coaching career away on their call. No one could be this stupid.
*Also see: Todd Bowles/the NY Jets and ditching Teddy Bridgewater for the abomination known as Sam Darnold – I’m not just right about the great QBs…I’m also right on which one’s suck, as the ONLY national scout in the world who made the case against Darnold. Guess how many emails I got on how I might be wrong on Darnold after Week 1…guess how many I’ve received since?
So, do you think Matt Nagy will run from this Week 4 success or not…and go back to what he wanted to do in Weeks 1-3? Matt Nagy knew all this Week 4 stuff/potential coming out of training camp…instead he decided to play conservative/boring/limiting on offense and barely use Tarik Cohen. Why do you think he’s learned anything now? Why do you think he WON’T adopt an ‘it’s just one week’ mentality…because that’s what the media is guaranteeing it is.
Does Matt Nagy go back to his first love/desired playbook from Weeks 1-3…or does he go ‘F-it’ and do what Andy Reid is doing and just turnover everything to Mahomes/Trubisky?
The NFL almost always plays it safe. They almost always plays ‘not to lose’. The Bears lead the NFC North now. Do you think Nagy goes ‘great’, let’s go for the jugular and keep reinventing ourselves!! Or does he go…man, if we can just hold onto this lead for the next 12 weeks we can win this division. We gotta play mistake-free football and balance our attack.
What we think he’ll do is EVERYTHING going forward…and I really don’t know what will happen. I’m going to lay out the case in the next section on the two paths – and you can decide.
Side note…Chicago Bears 6.5 win total ‘over’ bettors…REJOICE. It’s virtually in-the-bag now. Don’t forget how much I like Starbucks and how much more money Michele Tafoya makes than me, when you collect on your winning ticket.
My top 3 over/under win total bets for 2018 were all overs and they were on CHI-CIN-NO…which those teams are all 3-1 today. Bud Lights all around! Except for me, I don’t drink alcohol. Just White Mocha Lattes.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Here’s the thing that happened with Mitchell Trubisky (19-26 for 354 yards, 6 TDs/0 INT) – the ‘it’ factor made it’s first appearance. It may show again on a consistent basis starting Week 6, or Week 10, or 2019…but the big news is ‘it’s here’. The talent. The confidence. The downfield pinpoint accuracy…well, all these attributes that have been lying dormant/pent up -- they all announced their arrival https://youtu.be/hhvvRDpbUuE.
This was not just ‘Tampa Bay sucks’, nor was it ‘the Matt Nagy playbook’…basically, it’s not what everyone on ESPN, NFL Network, etc., says it was. This game started out as dull with the typical Bears WR routes as any Nagy-led Bears game in 2018. Yes, Tampa Bay cracked…people got open. Nagy then poured gasoline on the fire once it started instead of rolling up into a ball of Jordan Howard 2-yard runs – he gunned the accelerator it. When the tempo picked up…when the Bucs couldn’t cover everyone tight…it was a pure masterpiece from Trubisky. The Trubisky I foretold many, many years ago (well, 2+ years ago)…the best QB talent I’ve ever scouted from college football.
Almost every Trubisky pass was on the money…and not a bunch of BS bubble screens or short passes, turned long TD runs by the receiver like Ryan Fitzpatrick was enjoying Week 2 vs. Philly. This was what Jared Goff was doing to the Vikings on TNF last week. Medium and deep at various velocities almost all thrown in perfect stride, just above/over defenders and right into the hands of the receivers as they ran full speed and never broke stride. It was a gem. It was lucky or cool/‘Madden-esque’ to the untrained eye. To my expert eye…this was the trumpet blast, the announcement, the video evidence of what is to come – Hall of Fame QB Mitchell Trubisky.
After watching this, I have zero doubt about my scouting of Trubisky.
After watching this, I’m not sure we’ll see it again in Week 6.
I’m not sure Trubisky is fully ready to lead an offense in a Mahomesian way. He’s rarely been allowed to. John Fox put him in a box in 2017. Matt Nagy put him in a box Weeks 1-3. I’m not sure Trubisky is ready to full scale Mahomes because he’s been coached NOT to do this for his first 99% of his NFL career…the 1% being this Week 4. He’s not facing Tampa Bay every week ahead.
This Trubisky exists. I just don’t know if Matt Nagy is ready to let it fly. I don’t think Trubisky is fully ready, just like it took Goff a whole offseason and about 3-4-5-6 weeks into a season with Sean McVay. Week 4 Trubisky is a new to TRUBISKY, at the NFL level.
My old dog was raised on going outside on a tether in my open backyard for all it’s life. One day, put out at night for a final potty break, the tether broke and we didn’t realize it for 10-15 minutes before we went out and checked to see why we hadn’t seen him at the backdoor ready to come in. He could have gone a long way away in 10-15 minutes. He just stayed around the backyard. He was next door hanging out on our neighbor’s patio. He didn’t run away for more freedom when we came over to him, instead he ran right over and into our house with 25+ foot of tether in tow. I think he was kinda freaked out by this sudden change in environment. Didn’t know what to do with the freedom.
Patrick Mahomes has been catered to for the past 4+ years of football. System’s built to support his ability, his gift. Jared Goff, pretty much the same except for one remedial year with Jeff Fisher. Trubisky was not really let off the chain until his senior year of college, and then not as much as the other guys. He then walked into a controlling John Fox system and then a Nagy-led one. Now, his tether just broke free…what’s he going to do? Is Nagy putting him back on the tether?
It’s going to take time for Trubisky to adjust to this new reality, if it is a new reality. It won’t take long because he has a gift that most people in the world or in the NFL do not possess and could never learn. He’s literally the QB you would create in a laboratory with his size, foot speed, arm stretch, and amazing accuracy. He’s a natural…and like ‘The Natural’, Robert Redford/Roy Hobbs was not allowed to take batting practice at first because the coach was an idiot.
After the fictitious coach finally let Hobbs take B.P., Hobbs launched every pitch out of the park…to the amazement of the coach. Their next game, Hobbs was still not in the lineup. That’s the NFL coaching mentality. It’s going to take a little time (maybe 3-4-5-6 weeks) for Trubisky to get up to speed with his newfound freedom…if he’s even given it. Someday he’ll ‘take it’, but we’re in the tug of war stage of coaching control v. letting players make plays.
Speaking of that…that’s Trubisky’s new FFM nickname…lets go with ‘The Natural’. It’s not funny/clever/cute, but it’s very poignant to what I want us all to remember – he’s the total package. We’ll see if he fulfills his destiny…or, more to the point, how long it takes before he’s allowed to. This was a big step forward. A sign of what’s there for Nagy & staff if they want to claim it.
Nagy’s history has been to build a lead and then hide and try to wait out a win. This Week 4 was a marked change. Either by accident…or by design…or something that will now dawn on him. Today, Trubisky owner’s, is the day we have ‘hope’. We’ve seen the future…and we want it now. Hopefully, Nagy does too.
-- If Matt Nagy takes back over and does what he’s done for his last 4-5-6 NFL games, and first 2-3 series here in Week 4, then we know what will happen to the related Bears weapons for fantasy.
More Jordan Howard (11-25-0, 0-0-0/1) because…‘smashmouth’. And then he’s a great ‘buy low’ in fantasy.
Tarik Cohen (13-53-0, 7-121-1/8) had 8-5-8 touches in games 1-2-3…that’s Matt Nagy’s call. That was his ‘plan’ to start the season. That was his radical offense. Cohen in this game – 20 touches. What’s true 8-5-8…or 20? If we go back to Nagy’s original ‘plan’…it’s 8-5-8, not 20…and thus a waste of your waiver wire worry this week, or trading back into.
Taylor Gabriel (7-104-2/7) goes back to WR4-ville…sluggish sprint-stop-turn targets not allowing him to work ‘in stride’ where he’s best. That was the Weeks 1-2-3 plan.
Allen Robinson (2-23-1/4) is the leader in targets by default. The biggest, most experienced target Trubisky has when no one is really open on terribly predictable sprint-stop-turn routes.
What if Nagy has learned his lesson? What if this (Week 4) was Nagy’s plan all along and he was just buying time for Trubisky to get comfortable?
If Week 4 Nagy is a real thing, everything changes...
Jordan Howard is a ‘sell’ because he didn’t fit this up-tempo plan. Cohen strikes fear into defenses…Howard, they all stack the line waiting for the run. Howard is not a dynamic pass catcher anyways. Remember, when rumors were the Bears were looking to trade Howard because of not ‘fitting in’ this offseason? Best case, he becomes ‘Mark Ingram’ to…
…Tarik Cohen’s ‘Alvin Kamara’. You thought I was just being obnoxious when I said if Cohen got Kamara’s workload he’d better at it this preseason? How’d you like these Week 4 apples? We haven’t even scratched the surface. If Nagy is changing…Cohen is the MUST own because he’s the X-factor. He’s the Kamara, the smaller, faster Kamara. Cohen has Pro Bowl receiving hands and stellar moves and toughness after the catch. If the Bears are going to the next offensive level, Cohen is leading the way…the straw that stirs the drink only playing 50-70% of the snaps. A weapon.
…or Cohen goes back 8-5-8 touches like Weeks 1-3.
My sense is Nagy saw the future, and Trubisky saw the future here with Tarik. I don’t think the consistency will be there yet (Week 6), not like with Kamara, where the coach prays at Kamara’s altar…but Nagy and Trubisky may get there before long.
You think the Bears are going forward, not backwards in Week 6…you want in on Cohen. I think he’ll be more inconsistent but with better highs and not as low of lows ahead. Let’s say a solid RB2 in PPR.
Taylor Gabriel will be the same…higher ‘highs’ and higher ‘lows’. The true WR talent the Bears have. Because Gabriel has breakaway speed, he can get open in-stride and that’s where Trubisky’s real gift lies…his placement of passes to WRs in-stride.
Allen Robinson is a ‘sell’. Intuitively you think he’d benefit by ‘being there’, and he will to some degree, but I see nothing but a very slow WR not getting open right now. This offensive explosion happening without him is EXACTLY. Getting away from ARob allowed this to happen. The Bucs obliged by outing heavy coverage on ARob, because they saw Weeks 1-2-3 tape as well as I did.
OK, did we cover the Bears enough yet in the first 3,500+ words of this?
Trey Burton (2-86-1/4) stays as a TE1 as things open up. He had two catches here, but they were huge…because Trubisky can see things open rapidly and when the Bucs miss-covered Burton, Trubisky looked off defenders and made PERFECT throws to Burton. Burton is a mid-range TE1 in the offensive festival of the Bears. If the Bears retreat to Weeks 1-2-3…then fringe TE1.
OK, now the Bucs…
-- Basically, we have to do a mini-version of what I just did for the Bears? Weeks 1-2-3 Bears v. Week 4…what happens? For the Bucs it’s ‘what happens with Jameis Winston (16-20 for 145 yards, 1 TD/2 INTs) as the starter’.
First, there is this possibility…Winston cracks under the pressure and Fitzpatrick is in again by Weeks 7-8-9. Never in Winston’s life is he going to see what life is like when everyone hates him…and it is coming. Usually, Winston can throw all the picks and steal all the crab and assault people all he wants he wants, and announcers dutifully make excuses for him. Fans still want his autograph. Analysts still list him as the best young QB out there.
Now, he has a negative perception from fans…suspended for groping (yuck). The love has ended from the fans…it’s just the analysts left defending him now, but they’re getting ready to flee as well. You’re telling me if Winston starts losing and throwing picks the fans won’t destroy him in-games? The media won’t turn even more? Winston has no character, my opinion, so when the Wizard of Oz’s curtain is pulled…he’s going to lash out. He has lived in a world of no rules and everyone covering up for him and telling him how great he is. Soon, fan polls will show they want the guy with the funny press conference clothes that was winning, throwing for 400+ yards all the time by a 90-10 margin over the Crab Thief.
It’s going to get VERY ugly if Winston fails…and he will because lost in all this – he’s a terrible QB. If you’re celebrating my Mahomes-Goff-Trubisky, and Darnold-Allen awareness…Winston is terrible too and I said it from day one when NO ONE else would dare. Winston is terrible and now comes Winston playing with constant criticism and fan hate. You don’t know what that Winston will play like or become in the press. I predict – it’s going to be UGLY in short order.
When Winston is at QB, things change…
Mike Evans (6-59-0/9) retreats some because Winston sails passes to him while he’s double covered (because the defense knows where Winston goes by default).
DeSean Jackson (5-112-0/8) will have a big play here and there but less of them with JW.
O.J. Howard becomes a random event. Cameron Brate (3-29-1/4) becomes Winston’s 2nd favorite target after Evans.
Chris Godwin (2-22-0/2) you might as well cut/sell high because Godwin works in tight windows and Winston is the most not-tight windows thrower in the NFL.
Anything is possible in garbage time, but what’s different about Winston & friends this time…no more excuses or patience. Now, they’re all going to turn on Winston, receivers included when this goes bad. Think about Evans-DJax-Godwin – winning, 400+ yards of passing in games, many TDs with Fitzpatrick…and now they switch to losing, sailing passes over their heads, and turnovers with Winston. They won’t be happy.
This whole organization is going to implode because one day the Bucs followed all the highly paid scouts and analysts who ALL agreed Winston was the greatest and was made the #1 pick. One man said ‘no’. That one man is right about Trubisky AND Winston this day, which should be enough to make him a highly-paid person in the NFL…but it never will. It’s OK, I like working for you better…even if the pay is a fraction of my true worth.
-- Ronald Jones (10-29-0, 1-0-0/2)…I mean, I don’t only know QBs, I know RBs too. EVERYONE loved Jones…’the next Jamaal Charles’. One man said, “No.”
The answer is still…NO.
What a joke the Bucs are.
-- More Bears talk…
Consider the Bucs offense was on fire before running into the Bears defense…a defense minus it’s best CB and missing a good backup CB. Rookie CB Kevin Toliver (7 tackles) was among the few who stepped up and played well – and shutdown the hot Bucs’ offense, and sent an MVP candidate to the bench!
Rookie DT Bilal Nichols (4 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2.5 TFLs) is happening a little bit. Great athleticism and flashed in the preseason, and now seeing more and more snaps.
Ride the Bears-DST every week, even against the Patriots Week 7 isn’t a bad matchup…not considering how great the Bears defense is (and how bad NE looks). The schedule is pretty good until Weeks 14-15 with LAR-GB. You don’t drop the Bears-DST before the LAR game. You hold…or pickup if some doofus does let them go. The team that currently has the Bears-DST might be willing to trade them this week if they’re desperate and cannot use them, obviously, this week.
-- One last thing…this Week 4 Bears thing… If this offense is here to stay – they are easily NFC North winners, and possibly the only threat to the Rams for the NFC title. That’s how critical the concept of Weeks 1-2-3 Bears vs. Week 4 Bears is. The best defense in the NFL aside from…the fully healthy Rams. A good enough offense and QB to go with that defense to make a run.
Skol, if you’re out there…you were about to rip up your ‘Bears Win Super Bowl’ betting ticket last week. Not so fast my friend. Hope has fallen upon the land. Hope…thy name is Trubisky…(really it’s up to Matt Nagy)
Snap Counts of Interest:
28 = Kevin White (Miller out)
01 = Javon Wims
33 = Howard
29 = Cohen
31 = Barber
20 = R Jones
46 = Leonard Floyd
33 = Bilal Nichols