UA-59049186-1 2020 Week 8: Chicago Bears 23, New Orleans Saints 26 (OT) - Good if it Goes

2020 Week 8: Chicago Bears 23, New Orleans Saints 26 (OT)

At least they have a kicker. (Photo credit: Mark Busch, Shaw Media)

Player Grades

The grading scale goes from -3 to +3 for each play. Screens are graded as runs. Penalties are counted in whatever phase they were committed. Pre- and post-snap penalties are in the “Misc.” column. “Short” throws are 10 yards or less, “Medium” is 10-20, “Deep” is over 20. Everything else (scrambles, throwaways, reads, etc.) is under “Miscellaneous.” Parentheses in a column denote grades/snaps from the opposite side of the ball and are not included in grades/snaps from the player’s usual side. Snap counts are from Pro Football Reference. Box score and other relevant info can be found at that link as well.

This does not appear to be a well-coached team.

It does not. Matt Nagy deserves a lot of credit for keeping the wheels from totally coming off last year despite numerous opportunities for them to do so. Chuck Pagano praised his cool demeanor this week as well. That said, the fact that he still hasn’t learned what his offense is capable of halfway into the season is galling. He needs to simplify the offense until such time as he has at his disposal five large humans capable of preventing other large humans from clobbering his quarterback. I understand some of the tricky stuff – he’s trying to make up for his team’s talent deficiency by trying to outscheme the opposition. It’s not working, though. Actually, at this point, it’s working against you. Figure it out. Also, some of these penalties, and in particular, the Javon Wims thing, are not things that happen on well-run teams.

Yeah, what was the deal with Wims?

Saints DB C.J. Gardner-Johnson snatched Wims’ mouthpiece during one of the Bears’ offensive series. Wims didn’t get a chance to retaliate during that series and, rather than cool down upon getting to the bench, sat there stewing for 11 real time minutes until he got back on the field. He then proceeded to snatch Gardner-Johnson’s mouthpiece the first chance he got and after doing that, decided he wasn’t satisfied and threw a couple punches. Before you ask, yes, Gardner-Johnson had his helmet on, so Wims isn’t just dumb, he’s stupid, too. Wims apparently told the team that Gardner-Johnson had spat at him, which would make anyone irate, but he still needs to be smarter than that. If it were up to me, he would’ve been cut Monday. As it is, he’s been suspended for two games.

How dire is the line situation?

Not good. This game actually went better than I was expecting, but now Mustipher’s hurt and Spriggs tested positive for COVID, so we’re looking at Leno-Hambright-Bars-Ifedi-Coward Sunday against the Titans.

But at least there’s the defense…

Yeah, about that – Pagano either needs to make some serious adjustments or be shown the door. I have been pounding this drum for a season and a half and I’m going to do it again here – this needs to be a zone-based defense. When Pagano was first hired, I charted a few games of the 2011 Ravens defense the finished the season #1 in DVOA with Pagano as DC. In Baltimore, Pagano ran an aggressive, blitz-heavy, man-based scheme. The downside to that scheme is that the corners don’t always have help over top. I think he knows that the offense can’t really afford for the defense to give up the big mistake, so he really can’t run that defense here right now. A zone scheme would lessen the chance of the big mistake, but be vulnerable to some shorter stuff. However, in a zone system, the corners can get aggressive trying to jump routes because they’d have help available behind him. That’s what we saw in 2018 when the Bears finished #1 in the league in defensive DVOA and picked off 27 passes. What we’re seeing from Pagano now is a system that combines the worst elements of man and zone. He’s got the corners playing off receivers to lessen the chances of the big mistake, but they also can’t count on help behind them, so they can’t be as aggressive in trying to jump routes. There’s some randomness involved in turnovers to be sure, and 2018 was never going to be totally replicable, but it’s not a coincidence that turnovers fell off a cliff when Pagano got here (36 in 2018, 19 in 2019, 9 so far in 2020).

What does this mean going forward?

The Bears head to Tennessee Sunday where they’ll be tasked with stopping Derrick Henry. Maintain the edge, maintain your gaps, and make Ryan Tannehill beat you. Tennessee’s kind of in the same boat we’re in – one impressive win and a few, uh, less impressive ones. They also have a loss to Cincinnati. That bit’s relevant because the Bengals’ O-line situation last week was worse than ours is now. Of course, they have Joe Burrow and we do not, so this could be another struggle.


Roquan, BoJack, Mack, Hicks, Jenkins, Nichols, Trevathan, Urban, A-Rob


Wims, all of the lineman who played big snaps except Ifedi, Gipson

Four Stars of the Game

4star Roquan Smith

3star  Khalil Mack

2star  Eddie Jackson

1star Akiem Hicks

Honorable Mention: John Jenkins

Twitter: @KSchroeder_312

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