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dll2000

Potential Pleasant Surprises

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Hard to say who will be a pleasant surprise before Training Camp and even people who reportedly look great in training camp practices can disappear or never be seen in regular season.  Much ado about nothing.

But what else do we have to do or talk about in dead time?

I labeled this pleasant surprise because its nice to think about.  Injuries are unpredictable and can derail many a thing.  Those are unpleasant surprises.  This thread has to do with players that may come in and produce more than expected or predicted this season. 

So that being said here are some potential pleasant surprises in 2018:

1.  Aaron Lynch.  Lynch has been an admitted underachiever.  Why underachiever? The guy is 6-6 270 and can run.  Based on physical attributes he should be having success in the league.  Yes he is a monster athlete, but he has done little to nothing since 2015.   So why any optimism on Lynch?  Maybe he just isn't very good, nobody else wanted him.   Three reasons:  1) Focus.  According to interviews he has turned his life around mentally.  He found God and is focused on God, family and football whereas before it was other things.  2) Fangio. He played his best football for Fangio and respects him like no other coach he has ever had.  3) Opportunity. OLB is, on paper, Bears weakest position group and one of most sought after positions in the league.  In little demand for 2018 with a good season Lynch can  turn all that around and garner a very large pay day from Bears or someone else. 

He should have tons of financial motivation.  He sounds intelligent, happy and motivated and his personal life is in order.  A good combination for a potential breakout year.    

2.  RRH - Like Lynch RRH is guy you want other team to see coming off the bus.  He is a huge man.   He had some nice moments last year.  Not saying he will ever fill a stat sheet, but he was generally a positive presence last season.  Entirely possible he could take another step forward as a vital part of the dline rotation as a dynamic block eater for the ILBers and pocket pusher.  

3. Eddie Jackson - What!?! you say? Eddie was good last year.  He isn't and won't be a surprise.  Hear me out.  He was good by all accounts last year and people think he will be pretty good this year.  That was impressive, but keep in mind that he didn't play football in 2017 and he was a rookie in 2018.  He was an  uncertain rookie starter amongst an uncertain starting group with a terrible complementary offense.   This year he will be an established starter with experience amongst other established starters with experience in the secondary.  Turnovers are largely about being one step ahead of the offense mentally, offensive mistakes, straight gambling, or simply a tremendous play.  Knowledge experience, confidence, and teammates will allow him to play faster than last year, be one step ahead and gamble more.  This will result in more big plays defensively.  

Okay I get that experience and all that allows you to play faster, but what does offense have to do with it?  When your offense offers little threat, the other team need take no chances and mistakes are minimal by nature.  Turnovers are much harder to come by.  That actually helped Bears D stats in terms of points and yards last year, because many teams stayed conservative offensively.  Just score more than the Bears which is all it takes for a W of course, score more than the other team and don't screw it up.  

If Bears can schematically or otherwise generate pressure and offense improves expect Jackson to make some exciting plays in 2018 and become a league name.

4. Tarik Cohen - This will be a surprise to zero Bears fans.  But his stats weren't impressive in 2017 so it could be a big surprise to much of country who may look at him as a quirky, fun, exciting gimmick, but nothing more.  Some of poor stats was due to lack of use and some of that was due to big plays called back or stepping out of bounds by a few inches.  Bears fans know that this guy is a big play waiting to happen and has sticky hands.   Look for him to make a large name for himself in 2018 in this wide open scheme.

5. Prince Amukamara - I think he is best overall corner on Bears right now despite not being highest paid and seldom spoken of in those terms, not saying he is an all pro or pro bowler or anything, but I think with overall team improvements he will look and play a lot better.

6. Adam Shaheen - I think lackluster rookie year and signing of Burton has made Shaheen kind of an after thought as a weapon despite a lot of excitement in preseason of 2017.  The talk then was guy will be a dynamic receiver, but can't block.  Turns out they used him mostly as a blocker, where he surprised many and improved greatly, and very little as a receiver.  I think people forget that this guy has some great natural hands, the offensive coaching staff was goofy last year, the QB who got all the reps in offseason was awful and Adam was making a tremendous jump into the NFL from DII.   Given the opportunity he could be more than just the blocking TE and could play some of that flex position as well.   Might be more of a 2019 thing than 2018 thing though.

Doesn't really fit theme of this post, but I think Jordan Howard doesn't get enough respect from media or fans.  He has carried Bears offensively on his back for his first two seasons in the league.  This despite all defenses being designed to stop him and worrying about little else.  He was second leading rusher in the league as a rookie.   Yes, his receiving is a weakness, but I think a bit more praise and accolades for his accomplishments is warranted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If Bullard gets in as a nickel rusher I think he can be a solid player. I want Goldman to be a 2 down player, then get him out. 

 

Fitts might have a Lynch like role, Lynch has the talent to be a solid starter and pass rusher, but he has been lazy AF. I hope he does well but don't get he does. TBH I can see Acho starting in base, then Lynch and Fitts switching in nickel. 

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27 minutes ago, Sugashane said:

If Bullard gets in as a nickel rusher I think he can be a solid player. I want Goldman to be a 2 down player, then get him out. 

 

Fitts might have a Lynch like role, Lynch has the talent to be a solid starter and pass rusher, but he has been lazy AF. I hope he does well but don't get he does. TBH I can see Acho starting in base, then Lynch and Fitts switching in nickel. 

If we can play with the lead more, and I think we will, then Goldman should get less reps due to more passing situations for our opponents. That should only allow him to make him more of an impact on run downs.

It’s hard for me to really project any of our returning players on the pass rush because they so seldom got to play in obvious pass rush situations. That changing this year with our offense primed to be far more effective than in 2017 plus the addition of an ILB in Smith who can cover should set guys up who are supposed to be pass rush specialists (thinking Floyd and Bullard most specifically) to do just that more often at which point we should get a much better idea of what we have there.

If our offense can be in that 23-24 ppg range (just above league average) then my expectation is that Floyd, Lynch and Fitts combine for about 22-25 sacks (thinking Floyd 9-12, Lynch 5-8 and Fitts 4-7). Adding that to what we get from the DL (15.5 total last year) and whatever we get from blitzing DBs or ILBs and we could really have the potential makings of something big. We had 42 sacks last year, good for 7th in the league. With decent health and good offense on the other side I can see that number going up. 

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6 minutes ago, AZBearsFan said:

If we can play with the lead more, and I think we will, then Goldman should get less reps due to more passing situations for our opponents. That should only allow him to make him more of an impact on run downs.

It’s hard for me to really project any of our returning players on the pass rush because they so seldom got to play in obvious pass rush situations. That changing this year with our offense primed to be far more effective than in 2017 plus the addition of an ILB in Smith who can cover should set guys up who are supposed to be pass rush specialists (thinking Floyd and Bullard most specifically) to do just that more often at which point we should get a much better idea of what we have there.

If our offense can be in that 23-24 ppg range (just above league average) then my expectation is that Floyd, Lynch and Fitts combine for about 22-25 sacks (thinking Floyd 9-12, Lynch 5-8 and Fitts 4-7). Adding that to what we get from the DL (15.5 total last year) and whatever we get from blitzing DBs or ILBs and we could really have the potential makings of something big. We had 42 sacks last year, good for 7th in the league. With decent health and good offense on the other side I can see that number going up. 

Seeing more 3 and outs and less yards per drive are two of the big stats I want to see. We had a lot of games where we couldn't get off the field last year, hoping that changes. 

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On 7/3/2018 at 8:43 PM, Sugashane said:

Seeing more 3 and outs and less yards per drive are two of the big stats I want to see. We had a lot of games where we couldn't get off the field last year, hoping that changes. 

This is an excellent point. 3 and outs are one of more underrated stats and factors in football.  

I have always kind of had an internal and unproven formula in my head that each three 3 and out = one score for your team.   At all levels of football it means so much in terms of wearing a defense out, field position and offensive opportunity.  Field position a bit less so at pro level just because punters are so good at flipping field, but still a big deal.  A lot of people don't think about opportunity, but you can't discount offensive opportunity.  It's like having many more at bats than other team.  Not talking about mere time of possession either which is often just running versus passing.

When you practice against another team, often you will run 10 plays in a row against the other teams defense and just reset back to same line of scrimmage.  In an actual game one team can be so much better that the other would be shut out 10 out 10 times.  But when you get to run those 10 consecutive plays there is usually a one time score or big play even from the much weaker team.   It's because of too many opportunities and rhythm.  In a live game that's what 3 and outs can do for your team as a whole.   They give you those extra plays where something can happen for your offense even when the other team's defense is better than your offense.  Opportunity.  

While good punting makes the field position aspect of the 3 and out a bit less so at pro level, the sheer size of the players makes wearing out much more of a factor than at lower levels.  A big man in tremendous shape at 300 lbs. is still 300 lbs.  He gasses faster.   Why D line depth is so huge for teams.  Those guys can't pursue sideline to sideline and rush the passer when they are gassed.  People always think long offensive drives is way to gas a defense, but 3 and outs by your defense do it just as well if not better.  Conversely 3 and outs keep your own defense fresh.  It helps everything.  

Why I have never been a big fan of bend, but don't break defense.  I do get concept of not wanting  to give up the big play or quick points and forcing a team to move all the way down field mistake free (hoping for holding etc.), but I think coaches underrate the value of the aggressive 3 and outs.  Its okay to give up 6 pts. now and then by being overly aggressive if over the course of the game you gas their defense and get many more opportunities to score your own points.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On 7/3/2018 at 7:41 PM, Sugashane said:

If Bullard gets in as a nickel rusher I think he can be a solid player. I want Goldman to be a 2 down player, then get him out. 

 

Fitts might have a Lynch like role, Lynch has the talent to be a solid starter and pass rusher, but he has been lazy AF. I hope he does well but don't get he does. TBH I can see Acho starting in base, then Lynch and Fitts switching in nickel. 

Bullard greatest strength is his first step explosiveness.  If you had to pick a weapon that would be it, he needs more consistency to take next step.  Maybe more playing time will do the trick.

Goldman just needs to stay healthy which has been a problem.  He has always been good when healthy. 

Acho is a good man and may start as you say, but I think he has shown he is a just a guy or body out there.  One hopes someone else steps up and surprises like a Lynch or Fitts, but it's just a hope at this point.   Who knows?, maybe it is Acho who steps up and turns into a difference maker given the keys.  

A lot of guys who otherwise wouldn't are going to get their shot this year at OLB on a pretty good overall defense.  Even if you aren't top dog, someone will get banged up or need a breather.  If they have a lick of sense they have to know this is a huge opportunity. to be best they have ever been and make some money or at least keep their career alive. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My pleasant surprise is the pass rush in general. I know everyone talks about EDGE but our DL has 2 elite players in Goldman and Hicks and our middle has 2 elite MLB's. Add that to hoping Floyd stays healthy and you have a unit that really doenst NEED that extra rusher on the other side. I think the pass rush will be fine.

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4 hours ago, dll2000 said:

Bullard greatest strength is his first step explosiveness.  If you had to pick a weapon that would be it, he needs more consistency to take next step.  Maybe more playing time will do the trick.

Goldman just needs to stay healthy which has been a problem.  He has always been good when healthy. 

Acho is a good man and may start as you say, but I think he has shown he is a just a guy or body out there.  One hopes someone else steps up and surprises like a Lynch or Fitts, but it's just a hope at this point.   Who knows?, maybe it is Acho who steps up and turns into a difference maker given the keys.  

A lot of guys who otherwise wouldn't are going to get their shot this year at OLB on a pretty good overall defense.  Even if you aren't top dog, someone will get banged up or need a breather.  If they have a lick of sense they have to know this is a huge opportunity. to be best they have ever been and make some money or at least keep their career alive.


Right on with Bullard. He should have been a nickel 3T who slowly was brought in as a 5T as he got stronger and more technically sound on two-gapping. Seeing him out there in the opposite manner was like seeing Tru constantly under center, it was too sudden and was a disservice to play him against his strengths. Hopefully we get to see some twists and stunts for a change.

 

If Goldman's snaps are down I hope he can stay healthy. He played too many, and if we think Hicks can stay on the field near as much as he did last year and not wear down we are being delusional.

 

Acho is at best keeping the seat warm, I really would love for Fitts to be able to take over the role in the near future. With Acho at least we know he is decent vs the run and coverage. Lynch is completely one dimensional and Fitts is an unknown we have to hope for like you said.

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3 hours ago, MonserinNC said:

My pleasant surprise is the pass rush in general. I know everyone talks about EDGE but our DL has 2 elite players in Goldman and Hicks and our middle has 2 elite MLB's. Add that to hoping Floyd stays healthy and you have a unit that really doenst NEED that extra rusher on the other side. I think the pass rush will be fine.

I disagree about the assessment of lack of 'need'. However, I do concede the problem isn't huge, and can be overcome with the proper juggling.

I also understand why the problem, such as it is right now, exists--and accept you simply can't solve every problem at once. So, I'm kinda worried, but not bitter about it. If that makes sense...

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3 minutes ago, Heinz D. said:

I disagree about the assessment of lack of 'need'. However, I do concede the problem isn't huge, and can be overcome with the proper juggling.

I also understand why the problem, such as it is right now, exists--and accept you simply can't solve every problem at once. So, I'm kinda worried, but not bitter about it. If that makes sense...

Yeah I mean honestly the Eagles were probably the only "flawless" team last year(just meaning they had no major flaws). Bears have elite MLB play, an elite EDGE(when healthy), and 2 pro bowl caliber DL's. That with solid CB play should cause decent pressure. Maybe not sacks but the pressure will be there.

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1 hour ago, MonserinNC said:

Yeah I mean honestly the Eagles were probably the only "flawless" team last year(just meaning they had no major flaws). Bears have elite MLB play, an elite EDGE(when healthy), and 2 pro bowl caliber DL's. That with solid CB play should cause decent pressure. Maybe not sacks but the pressure will be there.

If we can generate more 3 and outs, it will negate the need for sacks AND prevent us from being exposed for a lack of depth. Worked for numerous years under Lovie.

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18 hours ago, Heinz D. said:

I disagree about the assessment of lack of 'need'. However, I do concede the problem isn't huge, and can be overcome with the proper juggling.

I also understand why the problem, such as it is right now, exists--and accept you simply can't solve every problem at once. So, I'm kinda worried, but not bitter about it. If that makes sense...

Pass rush can come from blitzing Smith and/or running stunts/twists with Floyd and whatever Dlinemen is closest to him.  Both are significant strengths for them.  I never saw a RB even come close to pass blocking Smith in college and that's when he even saw him in first place.  

Both can drop into coverage too.  If one were so inclined this defense can be a creative unit this year using a lot of movement with athletes they have.  Not a ton of guys who just line up and beat you straight up, but some good athletes who have ability to really move and create real problems for an offensive line in space.   I think just playing base defense with this group should be the exception rather than the rule if you can get into 2nd and 3rd and long.

 

 

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7 minutes ago, dll2000 said:

 I think just playing base defense with this group should be the exception rather than the rule if you can get into 2nd and 3rd and long.

I agree. Let's hope Fangio does, too. 9_9

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17 hours ago, Sugashane said:

If we can generate more 3 and outs, it will negate the need for sacks AND prevent us from being exposed for a lack of depth. Worked for numerous years under Lovie.

I respectfully disagree.   Lovie gave up tons of long drives.  He  was all about bend but don't break (don't give up the big play) playing the now famous hybrid cover 3/cover 2 (the Tampa 2).   He combined this style with generating takeaways by trying to stand and strip or punch it out while gang tackling.  Also getting more interceptions with DBs facing the QB rather than turn and bail - making a pick is far easier coming forward or breaking than over your shoulder.   Then converting those turnovers to scores on the return  which they did fairly often.  Especially during their SB year or whenever they had a healthy Mike Brown/Tillman/Urlacher/Briggs playing together.  They practiced it.   

Of course when you are punching and trying to stand guys up they often get another 3 or 4 yards or even break away resulting in more 1st downs and less 3 and outs.  It was a trade off.

It was a solid scheme that generally worked unless they played a veteran QB like Manning who could exploit the predictability of it.   He crushed them almost every time they played.  

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, dll2000 said:

I respectfully disagree.   Lovie gave up tons of long drives.  He  was all about bend but don't break (don't give up the big play) playing the now famous hybrid cover 3/cover 2 (the Tampa 2).   He combined this style with generating takeaways by trying to stand and strip or punch it out while gang tackling.  Also getting more interceptions with DBs facing the QB rather than turn and bail - making a pick is far easier coming forward or breaking than over your shoulder.   Then converting those turnovers to scores on the return  which they did fairly often.  Especially during their SB year or whenever they had a healthy Mike Brown/Tillman/Urlacher/Briggs playing together.  They practiced it.   

Of course when you are punching and trying to stand guys up they often get another 3 or 4 yards or even break away resulting in more 1st downs and less 3 and outs.  It was a trade off.

It was a solid scheme that generally worked unless they played a veteran QB like Manning who could exploit the predictability of it.   He crushed them almost every time they played.  

 

 

 

You are correct entirely on how they had so many long drives,  but that only further shows how well they did on causing short drives when you see the average plays per drive stats. Here are their NFL ranks by year under Lovie. 

 

04 - 3rd

05 - 8th

06 - 2nd

07 - 1st

08 - 7th

09 - 18th (Urlacher's 1 game season)

10 - 4th

11 - 7th

12 - 2nd

 

So yes, they had a lot of long drives in part due to trying to force turnovers, but they were absolutely trying to get the offense back on the field immediately. If not then they knew the offense usually wasn't going to help them in the battle for field position. The Bears seemed to have a ton of 3 and outs and an equal amount of long drives, really a feast or famine kind of deal. 

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