With the annual Football Outsiders Almanac now available, our friends at Football Outsiders made some of their top analysts available to SB Nation for a question and answer session with all thirty-two NFL team sites. We were fortunate to draw Assistant Editor Scott Kacsmar to shed some insight on the Chicago Bears.
I asked Scott five questions about the Bears on a wide variety of topics, but I wanted to start out asking about head coach Matt Nagy.
Nagy came from the successful coaching tree of Andy Reid, so in order to get a better idea of where the Bears are going, I asked about some his past. Scott not only looked at Nagy’s time in K.C., but also at some of what the Bears did last year.
Here’e my first question...
WCG - What are some Andy Reid tendencies that we might see Matt Nagy bring with him to Chicago?
Football Outsiders - “Matt Nagy has spent a decade with Andy Reid, so it is interesting to predict just how much of Reid’s work he’ll try to emulate. Will he go pass-happy as Reid often did? That would be a huge departure from John Fox’s Bears, the offense with the fewest throws in 2017. The 2017 Chiefs were the offense that Nagy had his most control over in his career, getting play-calling duties late in the season. The Chiefs actually ranked dead last in run ratio in the first half of games (32 percent). As you may have guessed, the Bears were the run-heaviest offense in the first half at 46 percent. The Chiefs were second in using shotgun/pistol, so that could be a big change for the Bears, who only ranked 22nd.”
We’ve talked about the success that Jordan Howard has had running from the shotgun in his first two years as a pro, and it makes sense to see him running from that formation more in 2018.
“Hopefully Nagy can leave the clock management stuff in Kansas City, but last year the Chiefs actually had the second-slowest offensive pace in neutral situations. Only the Bears were slower, but that’s something that may not change this year. That doesn’t mean the offense won’t get to the line quickly, but the actual snap of the ball is likely to be similar to what happened under Fox last year.”
I found this nugget interesting, but the more I thought about Reid’s philosophy, the more this makes sense. We’ll likely see the Bears hustle to the line in order to shift and motion, and also to give Trubisky plenty of time to run some check-with-me plays. All that presnap window dressing is to give defenses various looks, but also to clue the Bears’ offense on the coverage they’ll see.
“But you can expect a West Coast offense with plenty of quick, timing throws and screens to the running backs. Play-action will be used to make deep shots to someone like Allen Robinson, the best outside threat on this roster. Reid’s best offenses always had a mobile quarterback (Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Alex Smith), so I think getting Mitchell Trubisky on the move more (option and bootlegs) could be something we see more of in 2018. It was a very timid offense with few receiving options around Trubisky last year, so I think Nagy can open things up with the talent brought in. Trey Burton could really benefit at tight end. He’s not Travis Kelce, a but a career year should be his projection.”
Timid is an adjective we’ll hopefully never see associated with the Bears’ offense again.
Stay tuned every day this week for more of our Q&A with Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders.