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5 Questions with Football Outsiders: How effective was Buster Skrine’s 2019?

In our fifth and final question with Football Outsiders, we wanted to know what they thought about the Chicago Bears’ nickelback.

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For the last several years, SB Nation has partnered up with Football Outsiders to bring us some of their unique, analytical insight into each upcoming NFL season.

This year is no different as we had FO’s Bryan Knowles, who has been covering the NFL since 2006, answer five questions about the Chicago Bears.

We wrap up our week long Q&A with a question about Chicago’s starting slot corner.

Windy City Gridiron - Fans were split on the effectiveness from nickelback Buster Skrine, so what did the numbers tell us about his play in 2019?

Football Outsiders - Skrine had a bounce-back season in 2019 — he had a 55% success rate (29th best in the league) and allowed just 6.2 yards per target, placing him in the top 12. That’s well and good, but those numbers are both a little inflated because he faced such short passes; only five other qualified corners had a lower average depth of target than Skrine’s 9.5. It’s easier to prevent huge plays when you’re not asked to cover deep shots.

Skrine was also targeted 20% of the time he was in coverage, more than any other Bears cornerback — that’s not quite to the level where you’d say offenses were picking on Skrine, but they certainly weren’t shying away from throwing at him. In the end, I’d say the Bears did a good job letting Skrine play to his strengths — keeping passes in front of him and stopping short gains from becoming back-breakers. I’d be concerned if they moved him outside to make up for the Artie Burns injury; let him play to his strengths and keep him in the slot.

What’s your thoughts on the Skrine’s analytics from a year ago?

You can find even more great stuff about the 2020 NFL and college football seasons from Football Outsiders in their yearly Almanac available at their store here or at Amazon here.

The most authoritative and innovative annual guide to both the NFL and college football is back for an all-new season with more cutting-edge statistical analysis, obsessive film study, and trademark humor. Includes comprehensive coverage of all 32 NFL teams, analysis of offseason personnel changes, KUBIAK fantasy football projections with over 500 player profiles, and breakdowns of the top 50 college football teams for 2020. With numerous statistical measures that go far beyond standard NFL stats, Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 gives NFL fans the kind of sabermetric-like statistical analysis that revolutionized the fan’s understanding of baseball. It’s also written with a knowing dry wit that gets under the skin of America’s most popular spectator sport.