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Reacting to the 2016 Bears

NFL: Chicago Bears at Houston Texans Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

I am more than willing to admit when I’ve made mistakes. After all, I predicted good things for Robbie Gould this season, and I had hopes for Kyle Fuller, so I might need a better crystal ball. However, this community tends to rise above the easy narrative. We challenge the pouty/whiny/apathetic narrative surrounding Jay Cutler, and we ask questions about John Fox’s supposed mastery of the rebuild. We try not to fall for every trade rumor, and while we bite on off-season optimism, we also try to temper our enthusiasm. So, in order to help the community out, I wanted to fact-check just a couple of things before we return to our regularly scheduled griping and/or quarterback speculation.

First, supposedly all of the problems on the defense are caused by their lack of pass-rush. Do the Bears have a pass rush? Yes, they do. Sort of. This shows up in a number of ways. First, they have three players in the top fifty when it comes to defensive hurries: Willie Young (#7), Akiem Hicks (#26), and Cornelius Washington (#42). The Bears have the 16th-best sack percentage in the league, sacking the quarterback on 5.5% of passing plays that they faced. They have 15 sacks for 97 yards, tying them in 14th place with the Atlanta Falcons (though they have managed those numbers playing 17 fewer defensive snaps so far than the Falcons).

Indirectly, opponents are converting 39.6% of third-down attempts, also good for 16th in the NFL. The Bears have a perfectly average pass-rush. They just don’t have enough of anything else to make that mediocrity look better than…well…mediocre.

The Bears have a perfectly average pass-rush. They just don’t have enough of anything else to make that mediocrity look better than that.

Second, a trade between the Bears and the Eagles for Alshon Jeffery won’t make sense, even if it happens. In March, I looked at the highest-value trades that had been made up until that point in recent NFL history. Leaving aside the Bradford Trade (because, let’s face it, potential starting quarterbacks usually command a premium everything), these trades were essentially for mid-round picks. Stevie Johnson went for what was essentially a fourth-rounder, while Brandon Marshall and Mike Wallace were each traded for the value of a high fifth. We might like to think that Jeffery would command a higher price, but three solid wide receivers have gone for what is essentially the same value. Could the Eagles offer more? Yes. They could.

Why would they? As Lester has already pointed out in his Ten Thoughts, the Philadelphia Eagles would be trading for half a season of a player who will probably be healthy but who will not be able to sign a long-term deal. If they offered more than a third-round pick, they would be making a big move for the short-term, but they would be gambling for the mid-term. As nice as Jeffery is as a receiving target, it is really unlikely that even his best eight games offer enough of an advantage to be worth more than a mid-rounder. On the other hand, if Jeffery stays with the Bears then Pace can tag him again, sign him to a long-term deal, or have him walk and end up with a potential compensatory pick.

If the Eagles offer more than a third-rounder, then they are overpaying. If the Bears take less than second, then they are giving up too much for too little. This is a deal that makes sense except for the details, and the details are what tend to matter (and yes, I’m waiting to update this post after finding out Pace traded Jeffery to the Eagles for Robbie Gould).

Finally, I just want to check in on the too-thin, developmental, and over-drafted Leonard Floyd. The plurality of WCGers felt that they would judge Leonard Floyd by the number of sacks he managed in his rookie campaign. Even with all of his ups and downs and on a limited snap count, he is currently 52nd in the NFL with 2.5 sacks. That’s more than Jadeveon Clowney and DeForest Buckner but a half-sack behind Clay Matthews, Aaron Donald, and Khalil Mack. I also can’t help but point out that he has more career touchdowns than Kevin White (yeah).

Okay, with those boring observations out of the way, let’s go back to something that matters—what do we think about Kyle Long’s body language on the sideline?