A pair of quarterbacks who were loosely tied to the Chicago Bears during the offseason are swapping spots.
John Fox, his coaching staff, and the Bears’ front office took a good, long look at Nathan Peterman when they were leading the Senior Bowl’s North Team. The University of Pittsburgh product opened some eyes during practices and led us to hear a case for him being the best fit for the rebuilding Bears. Among the many bold offseason predictions made by football’s top pundits was one that had the Bears landing Tyrod Taylor in a move that definitely would have made a ton of sense. But it wasn’t meant to be as Taylor remained in Buffalo.
On Wednesday, the Buffalo Bills announced Peterman (who the team drafted in the fifth round) was replacing Taylor in the starting lineup. Taylor has thrown for more yards than Jay Cutler, completed passes at a higher percentage than Russell Wilson, thrown fewer interceptions than Dak Prescott, and has a higher passer rating than 17 other qualifying quarterbacks. It’s not as if Taylor was a major problem. What gives, Buffalo?
- Of course, the Bears have quarterback problems of their own. For starters, Adam Jahns’ film study at the Chicago Sun-Times reveals a bold, new strategy the team should consider for its Week 11 matchup against the Detroit Lions. Among Jahns’ observations is that rookie Mitch Trubisky should be allowed to throw the ball more often of first down. It’s an idea crazy enough to work because the Lions wouldn’t see it coming because odds are they’re preparing to stop the run on early downs. Since Trubisky took over under center, Jordan Howard has been asked to rush 64 times as opposed to the 34 times in which Trubisky has been called on to throw. And it’s not as if Trubisky has been poor on his first down attempts, posting a 94.9 passer rating on those throws.
- Bob LeGere of the Daily Herald dissects some of the Bears’ first-down problems, which are a main reason the team’s offense has sputtered as much as it has in 2017. Chicago’s first-down woes have a direct impact on another area of struggle – third-down conversion rate. The Bears converted just 28.6 percent of their third-down attempts against the Packers and came into the game with a 36.1 percent success rate. BOTH numbers are below league average of 38.9 percent. Simply put, if the Bears aren’t more productive on first down moving forward, their chances of being successful on third downs aren’t going to be high.
- Perhaps adding a little more diversity to the play calling would keep opposing defenses from easily predicting the Bears’ play calling. And if the Bears could prove to be less predictable, maybe opposing pass rushers would think twice before selling out on the pass rush. Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune writes about the season-high five sacks taken by Trubisky as a learning experience and a hurdle the rookie needs to conquer in order to truly make progress in his development. Trubisky has been sacked 16 times and on 12.2 percent of his drop-backs. Things have been really rough for the rookie on third down, a predictable passing down where he has been sacked on 17.3 percent of his drop-backs.
- It’s possible the addition of Dontrelle Inman will help push the Bears toward making a schematic adjustment and throwing on earlier downs. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune gives Bears receivers a passing grade after his film session. Trubisky targeted wide receivers on 68.5 percent of his attempts, which stands out as a potential post-bye adjustment. Additionally, those receivers accounted for 64.3 percent of the team’s receiving yards. If Trubisky continues to build a rapport with Inman and finds trust in players like Josh Bellamy and Kendall Wright, the Bears’ offensive identity could shift toward a more balanced approach.
- Where Markus Wheaton fits in the puzzle still remains to be seen. Wheaton was active for the first time since the team’s Week 5 loss against the Minnesota Vikings, but Pro Football Focus’ data shows he played just two snaps against the Packers. Larry Mayer explains the Bears might have liked Inman, Wright, and Bellamy more than a player like Wheaton who was coming off an injury. And while Fox would like to see Wheaton practice more before he gets a bigger work load, it’s worth wondering if the injury riddled receiver should be active if he is going to be limited to just 3.3 percent of the team’s offensive plays.