The Remarkable Development of Alshon Jeffery and Other Bullets

AlshonMeme

Want a fun fact to get your day off to a good start? The Bears have scored at least 20 points in 12 of 14 games this season. (The other two featured 18- and 19-point efforts.) Going back over the last five years, they’ve had 9, 9, 10, 7, and 11 such games; obviously, the Bears have already passed those marks, and they have two games remaining. I’m not sure that it’s possible to overpraise Phil Emery, Marc Trestman, and the entire offensive coaching staff. This team is second in the NFL in scoring, averaging 29 points per game. The Bears rank in that stat over the previous five years: 16th, 17th, 21st, 19th, and 14th. (Some of those ranks, 2012 especially, were buoyed by incredible defensive touchdown rates.) I just wanted to make sure that everyone is appreciating one of the best offenses the Bears have ever fielded.

  • As any of my regular readers know, I’m very much a fan of former NFL safety Matt Bowen’s ability to break down the game. It hits a great sweet spot; not too complex, not dumbed down. And earlier this week he took a look at the development of Alshon Jeffery. It’s a fascinating look at how he’s improved from his rookie year and how he’s been utilized by Marc Trestman in multiple ways. (Including the #AlshonEndAround.) On a side note, I’m very much dreading the inevitable avalanche of “Jeffries” mentions on Sunday Night Football. It’s nails on a chalkboard at this point, and in the past Cris Collinsworth has been one of the worst offenders. I’d make a drinking game out of it, but I fear I’d be dead by 9 P.M.
  • We’re still awaiting on a final decision on the availability of Lance Briggs. As Kevin Fishbain of HubArkush.com writes, that decision should come today. Briggs worked with the first team on Thursday, and he’s certainly hoping to play. Trestman has consistently said this week that he’s optimistic Briggs could return.
  • Within this notes column from CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge is a fascinating look at the Eagles defense, and the problems it could pose for the Bears. As a unit, they’ve given up 402 yards per game, but as Hoge notes, they’re seventh in the NFL in takeaways. It’s a gambling defense; perhaps that’s a calculated decision by Chip Kelly. If your defense going to give up long touchdown drives anyway, dialing up the aggression in an effort to force turnovers or mistakes makes sense.
  • Writing for ESPN’s Stats & Info blog, Rob Nelson gives us some matchups to watch in Sunday night’s contest. They include a look at the over/under for the game (it opened at 56; I’d take the over) and Jay Cutler’s strong fourth quarter performances. But the bit I was most interested (and disappointed) to see concerned the Eagles zone read rushing attack.

“The Eagles run the zone read better than any team in the NFL and it’s not close. The Eagles have rushed for 1,479 yards and nine touchdowns on zone-read runs, 886 yards and five touchdowns more than any other team. There have been seven games in the NFL this season in which a team ran for 100 yards on zone-read rushes, with the Eagles accounting for six of them. LeSean McCoy has more yards (1,017) and touchdowns (five) on zone-read rushes than any team this season. Opposing teams have run 12 zone-read rushes against the Bears this season, the fewest any team has faced. The Bears have been far from impressive in limited action against the zone read. Opposing teams are averaging 9.1 yards per rush on such runs, with only the Lions allowing more (10.1).”

Yikes. That doesn’t bode well. But, then, the Bears have won games despite their porous rushing defense before, and I suspect they’ll have to continue doing so. That said, my brother has LeSean McCoy in our fantasy championship, so this is a doubly-troubling statistic. (I’m nearing 1,700 followers, by the way, in my “Force Me to Start Cutler” contest. @BearsBn if you’d like to participate. I also think you’d enjoy following me regardless, but I don’t want to be presumptuous.)

  • Perhaps relatedly, ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Bears going with a defensive lineman in his first 2014 Mock Draft. It’s Insider-only, so I don’t want to give it all away, but with the Bears currently projected to pick 21st, he has them selecting Florida defensive tackle Dominque Easley. A small excerpt:

“Easley suffered two ACL injuries during his career in Gainesville, Fla., so obviously this pick is contingent upon him passing the team’s medical requirements — it’s easy to see him sliding to the second round because of his medical history. But if he does pass, he’s a perfect fit for the Bears as a 3-technique D-tackle, especially with Henry Melton coming off of injury and his contract coming up. Easley may have been the most dominant defensive player in college football this season before his injury, and he’s capable of being very disruptive when healthy.”

Obviously this is a very early projection, but it’s fun to think about. While I believe Phil Emery and crew are firmly in the “best player available” school, if all things are equal I could see them leaning toward the defensive line. As to Easley specifically, the injuries are red flags, but I’m all about finding surplus value. Alshon Jeffery had some red flags that caused him to slide in the draft, as well.

  • Late Wednesday, the Bears announced that they had signed offensive tackle Joe Long. Long has not played in a regular season game, and as that article from ESPN Chicago’s Michael C. Wright notes, he’s been on Pittsburgh’s practice squad for his entire career. This is a depth signing for now; obviously there’s no room on the current line. Interestingly, Joe Long is the brother of St. Louis (and longtime Miami) left tackle Jake Long. This means the Rams have Chris and Jake Long, while the Bears have Kyle and Joe Long. Not confusing at all.
  • Finally, John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported that Lovie Smith was the first coach to interview for the vacant Texans job. Apparently Lovie interviewed earlier in the week, and is among a group of candidates that includes Charger offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Penn State coach Bill O’Brien, and Wade Phillips, currently Houston’s interim head coach. I’m not the world’s biggest Lovie Smith fan, but out of that group I’d lean towards hiring him. I would want to pick the offensive coordinator myself, though. The offense was Lovie’s white whale in Chicago (well, and the challenge system); he couldn’t solve it or find the guy who could, and it cost him the job. I certainly think he will get another coaching job, though.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

10 responses to “The Remarkable Development of Alshon Jeffery and Other Bullets”

  1. mdavis

    if im philly, id run the read option at McCellin all. day. long. it could be the point where hes a liabilty on that and needs to come off the field.

  2. ssckelley

    That zone read is exactly why the Bears desperately need Briggs to be healthy enough to play.

  3. Adam

    Taking Easley in the 1st round would be a joke. I would be fine if the Bears drafted him, but it would have to be in round 2 or later. After watching tape, I love Ifo Ekpre-Olomu from Oregon. The guy has no fear when it comes to tackling, which is needed out of corners in the Bears’ system. He also has great recovery speed. I am also impressed with Stephen Tuitt. The guy can play anywhere on the line and busts his butt every down. On McShay’s mock, he had Timmy Jernigan being picked right after the Bears picked. If he is still on the board, I would also def. take him over Easley.

    1. mdavis

      yeah Easley to me is a 2-3 rounder. those injuries scare me. and i think they need to go corner. I believe only 1 of tillman and jennings will be back. They should bring bowman back. Frey is a decent nickel. I like the kid outta MSU Dennard i think his name is. but def need some help on that d line too. will be interesting to see what they do with melton and collins coming off ACLs and free agents.

      1. mdavis

        to clarify, i didnt mean they need to go corner 1st round. but within the first 3 rounds i think they need to find a starting caliber guy.

    2. ssckelley

      I am crossing my fingers for a quarterback, someone they can draft and put behind Cutler like the Packers did with Aaron Rodgers. The QB list is looking deep and I hope they use one of their top 2 picks to take one. Otherwise go with the best player available on defense, at any position.

      1. mdavis

        i really like Carr and Bortles in this draft…but both those guys are going to be long gone. i think a couple guys that will be around are mettenberger, hundley (if he enters), McCarron. that being said, i dont think they go that route in the first 2 rounds, so you’re probably looking at a couple mid-round, development types

        Murray-tons of experience, size and big game questions.

        Garoppolo- huge huge numbers, obviously played against lesser competition, so pre-draft process will be big for him

        L. Thomas- in terms of upside, he might have the highest. great size, but really fell off a cliff in terms of production from his younger years.

        Boyd-could be a legit fit for the bears in terms of style of play. experienced. undersized

        Morris-can make all the throws, experienced, production fell off a bit towards the second half of the season.

      2. Adam

        The difference is that Favre was already 36 when the Packers drafted Rodgers. Cutler will be 31 only. It would be a waste to take a QB in the first 3 rounds if they resign Cutler to an extension. Only take a QB high in the draft if they let Jay go and resign McCown. Plus, there are too many holes on defense to waste a high pick on a QB (a position where half the guys are busts). I would probably take a corner, defensive lineman and a safety with the first 3 picks.

        1. mdavis

          i agree. which is why i think they should look more 4-7 for a qb, and the guys i listed up there should be in that ball park range. but if they resign cutler, its not that pressing of an issue, because as you said hes a younger guy.

  4. Matt

    Odds that there are zero punts in the Bears-Eagles game? Gotta be at least 20%, right?

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