Welcome to early Thursday afternoon, the last productive window of your work week. After what felt like a bye-month, the Bears are back and taking on a desparate Dolphins team in Miami. Last we saw them, the Bears were the ’99 Rams reincarnate and getting Ryan Fitzpatrick benched in a 38-point win. Fun was had by all. We’ve all had two weeks to drum up our most unrealistic expectations, so let’s see what’s on your minds:
Gabriel (and everyone else, tbh) had his breakout game against Tampa, catching seven balls on seven targets for 104 yards and two touchdowns. To answer Sidney’s question directly: no, I don’t think he’s going to necessairly see more targets. Here are how his targets break down through the Bears first four games:
- Green Bay: 5 (5 Rec, 25 yds)
- Seattle: 7 (4 Rec, 30 yds)
- Arizona: 10 (6 Rec, 34 yds)
- Tampa: 7 (7 Rec, 104 yds)
So, it seems like Gabriel’s role in the offense, at least through the first quarter, has already been pretty well-defined. As Trubisky gets more comfortable throwing to his first-year recievers, I imagine you’ll start seeing more games like Tampa Bay and less games like Seattle. Still, with any given formation also including Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, and Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen, there are a lot of mouths to feed. With that said, if ‘Fins corner Xavien Howard shadows Allen Robinson all game, Gabriel could see a few more targets than usual.
With all the Howard talk that’s happened over the last two weeks, I feel like Nagy might throw him a bone or two early on. The Dolphins run defense ranks 9th in DVOA, so Howard has his work cut out for him. Still, Miami’s run defense is the “weakness” compared to the rest of the unit, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears try and set the tone early.
When it comes to the screen game, though, the Bears have a couple better options. Tarik Cohen and Gabriel are two names that come to mind – both are (pun not originally intended but still kinda into it) tailor made for the bubble screen action that Nagy loves to employ. If anything, I see Howard featuring mostly as a decoy in the Bears’ play-action screen sets.
How many linebackers does Pace have to trade for to get some respect on his name?!
I don’t think Pace has an obligation to go out and get another player. The Bears don’t have a particularly glaring weakness right now, and while some LB depth or another secondary piece wouldn’t hurt, neither seems pressing. Keep in mind that Prince Amukamara will be back soon, and Marcus Cooper will be back at some point. One is significantly more important to the Bears than the other, but bodies are bodies.
This was the most fun question I got, so thank you Hulk2354.
As you’ve all been told one thousand times this season, the last defensive player to win an MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. He put up 20.5 sacks that year, which is literally exactly the pace that Mack’s on this season.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure that even eclipsing Taylor’s 20.5 would win Mack MVP. They just don’t give defensive players that award. J.J. Watt finished 2nd in 2014, but even that was an anomaly.
For the fun of it, here’s how Mack’s season projects if he continues this pace: 20 sacks, four interceptions, 16 forced fumbles(!!), four fumble recoveries. That statline is about as unrealistic as Mack’s chances at the award, so it checks out.
Because MVP voting is still wildly outdated, Mack’s chances at MVP go hand-in-hand with how many wins the Bears pile up. If the Bears can rack up 10 or 11 wins and the NFC North, his case looks a lot more realistic. 8 or 9 wins and a Wild Card berth? Congrats on your award, Phillip Rivers.