“Da Bears” fans have been pontificating for months about whether or not Mitchell Trubisky is the real deal for them – effectively “Mitch Or Bust” – or whether they should “Move on from Mitch”, and go with another option. If, like me, you’ve been on the various fan channels, the debate is polarising and intense – even between long time friends!
Full disclosure: I’m a Bears fan, so I may not be as completely neutral as I’d like to be!
I decided to write about this. Lots of articles have popped up on this very topic, for example:
Originally, I was going to write a massive diatribe about how we should move on from Mitch and that we’d wasted an opportunity here (and most likely have a “Da Bears” style heart attack whilst mid-rant!), despite the claims that we were somehow, miraculously okay!
However – I’m going to float a new theory in this article.
What – and I’m aware of the potential heresy that I’m committing here – but, what if it’s not just Trubisky to blame here?
What if it’s actually a deeper personnel issue, specifically the O-Line?
I’d need evidence to work out if this were the case. Like real evidence, not the “Oh. Look. Kyle Long has broken both his arms. And his legs. And his Back. Again!”
(Don’t get me wrong, I quite like floating these kinds of theories, as anyone who’s sat beside me during games will testify to!)
Comparing 2019 to 2018 doesn’t really work. All that tells you is that things were worse than last year. I decided – once I’d taken a stiff drink or five – let’s take a further look and see if something else is amiss.
Tellingly, the stats line between 2019 and 2015 show that there was a regression across the board. Interestingly, though, there was an increase in pass attempts and completions of between 10-11%. Rushing yards were down considerably from 2015 by 20% in 2019 (this compares to 4.5% down between 2015 – 2018).
What does this tell us? If there were just problems with Mitch, then you’d expect to see big levels of regression in the passing area of the game. I’d expect also to see some correlation with the rushing game affected, but perhaps to a lesser degree.
The stats tell us that, in fact, there is a significant overall issue in the rushing game also.
There were 15% less rushing plays between 2015-2019, rush average was down by 7.5% also. There were also around 18% less rushing plays in 2019 compared to 2018, and the rush average yards per play was down by over 10%.
Given this precipitous fall in production, where do we lay the blame?
Losing Jordan Howard? Possibly, but most of us agree that David Montgomery looks pretty decent, even if his stats weren’t quite as stellar as we hoped. (Tarik Cohen isn’t exactly a slouch in the running game either, so it’s hard to say that this is a problem).
So, my (perhaps not so controversial) assertion is this: It’s the Offensive Line!
The O-Line has been an absolute mess all year. Kyle Long retiring due to injury tells you that all was not well. We all know that they’ve experienced serious issues with pocket coverage and protection and the stats show this with a massive spike in Sacks (234 vs 143 in 2019 to 2018).
Mind you, if he got healthy and could perform, I’d take him back – and he’d never say no, according to twitter!
I would argue that, while Trubisky isn’t without his issues, that the problems are for Ryan Pace to fix on the offensive line. As a part of the Mack Mega-Trade (TM, all rights reserved, I thank you, I’m here all week!), we don’t have a first round draft pick, and according to www.overthecap.com, we’ve a cap space figure of around 17.3 million.
That’s not much, but it might be enough to add some line talent through free agency.
My advice to Ryan Pace is this: “stick with Mitchell” – his cap figure would be too high to move on — instead let’s fix the Offensive line, and see if we can’t make the play offs! We live in hope………
Go Bears Go!