The 2021 Chicago Bears started three quarterbacks, two running backs, and one wide receiver. All disrespect to Allen Robinson there. But, Chicago set a new standard for boring, uninspiring play en route to finishing at 6-11, and handing both Head Coach Matt Nagy and General Manager Ryan Pace their walking papers. But, what should we remember from the last year of the Pace-Nagy Era as we look forward to 2021 with Jim Harbaugh Brian Flores Urban Meyer Adam Gase Ben McAdoo at the helm?
- The Chicago Bears fell bass ackwards into Justin Fields the 2021 NFL Draft. He was supposed to go to my San Francisco 49ers. But, alas, he is a Chicago Bear. He had the normal trials and tribulations of a rookie. The Bears didn’t let him throw the ball all that much, with Fields averaging just 25.5 pass attempts per game. Unfortunately, his decision-making isn’t that great, either. Among quarterbacks with at least 100 passes (41 QBs), Justin Fields ranks 30th in Money Throw Rate – Danger Throw Rate (per playerprofiler.com statistics). This is because Fields is behind just Mike Glennon, Taylor Heinicke, and Mike White in danger throw rate, and just ahead of Tua Tagovailoa in money throw rate, at just above league average. Fields needs to clean up his Danger Throw Rate to jump tiers for 2022.
- David Montgomery might be the most “what you see is what you get” running back in the league. He’s a low-end RB1 or a high-end RB2 in most weeks, and it generally depends on if he scores a touchdown or not if you’re happy with him that week. All told, he’s a middling RB2. But, if you strip touchdowns from the equation, he had five RB1 weeks, five RB2 weeks, and two RB3 weeks. He’s one of the most dependable RB2s that you can have, and he goes at just that spot (RB17 in preseason ADP per 4for4.com).
- It’s a good thing that Antonio Brown exists, or else Allen Robinson might be in the running for most value lost by a wide receiver this season. I mean, seriously, what happened to A-Rob this year? The most damning thing about A-Rob was that he played in two games between weeks ten and seventeen, and nobody really cared or noticed. There’s no fun stat here; he’s been as bad as you could imagine, posting two games over 60 yards this year, and zero games over 70 yards, while scoring just one touchdown. But, the 28-year-old pending free agent has a track record of bouncing back from bad years. The last time he had a catch rate as bad as he had in 2021, he responded by posting 98 catches, 1,147 yards, and 7 touchdowns the following year. Robinson is a good football player, but he needs a better situation. Sorry, I don’t have anything else to offer!
- Once Jimmy Graham mercifully shuffles away from the Chicago Bears, it should be wheels up on Cole Kmet. All the indicators are there for Kmet to turn into a Mike Gesicki or Dallas Goedert type of tight end, except one: catches inside the ten-yard line. Kmet is top-twelve among tight ends in deep targets, average depth of target, targets, slot snaps, air yards, air yards share, and receptions. But, he ended the fantasy football regular season with zero touchdowns. That’s likely because he shared touchdown-producing targets (inside the five) with Graham. Both had four within the ten-yard line, but only Graham turned his into a touchdown.
- What led to Darnell Mooney’s 2021 breakout campaign? Well, not getting balls from Mitchell Trubisky was a major upgrade for Mooney. According to playerprofiler, his catchable ball rate leaped to 75% from… 74.5%. Okay, sorry for tricking you. That wasn’t it. His true catch rate went down, as well. But, what led to the breakout? Well, first, the air yards increase helped. But… his average depth of target was basically the same. So did his catch rate. So really, what was it? It really was better quarterback play! Psych! Gotcha! His yards before target per reception lept from 6.2 in 2020 to 9.3 in 2021. So, he had additional receptions and more air yards per reception. He was getting the ball further downfield; that’s pretty much it. Oh, except he had 70 receiving yards in every game except his three against the Ravens and Lions, two of the worst secondaries in the NFL. But that couldn’t be it, could it?