I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I’m almost over the illness that has kept me in bed since Wednesday afternoon. Unfortunately, I’m still hesitant about eating. Thankfully, my buddy Jim pointed me to a tomato soup recipe that might make me feel better. You can check it out here and make it yourself whenever you please.
- As we noted in yesterday’s Bullets, the city of Nashville was planning to chop down some beautiful cherry trees in order to accommodate the NFL and build a stage for its draft weekend. But after a public outcry, Nasvhille Mayor David Briley has put a stop to it:
After hearing the public response over the planned cutting of 21 of the 68 ornamental cherry trees at Riverfront Park, I informed the NFL and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. (NCVC) that they will have to remove them intact and replant them in our city.
— Mayor David Briley (@MayorBriley) March 30, 2019
- Mayor Briley also announced the league and Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. will plant an additional 200 cherry trees around the city. It’s good to see Mother Nature get a win these days.
- Better late than never, but the Chicago Bears got their man in Buster Skrine. Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times checks in with an anecdote pointing out that the Bears targeted Skrine as a nickel corner back in 2015 when Vic Fangio was running the show. Skrine, who was about to enter his age 26 season, ended up signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Jets after his rookie deal with the Browns expired. Looking back at it, the Bears targeted Skrine with good reason. He hadn’t missed a game in four years, started 31 of his last 32 games as a Brown, and was coming off a four-interception campaign at age 25. Hello, upside! Skrine has just three interceptions in four years since, but his durability has more or less remained. Evidently, there is something the Bears like enough to target Skrine again. I can’t wait to see what it is with my own eyes.
- We already knew Head Coach Matt Nagy was fond of Skrine, Clearly, there is something the front office has liked about what Skrine brings to the table for a while. And that speaks volumes, especially since his reputation for being oft-penalized with a propensity to give up big plays would otherwise put a cold blanket on those positive thoughts. Perhaps a change of scenery will do Skrine some good and the Bears will get a chance to maximize on what they think they see, even if it is a few years later than originally intended.
- Hey! If Skrine was good enough to target for the early stages of a Fangio defense, why wouldn’t he be a fit when that group is in its prime with high-end skill position players surrounding him?
- It’s almost April and we still have plenty of time to get it right, but let’s try to get it out of our system now. His last name is pronounced SCREEN … like the door or the play he is going to bust out of the slot corner position. Buster SCREEN. We’ll get through it together, folks.
- Skrine represents the second Bears free agent signing the team had eyes for in a previous run in the open market. Chicago also targeted Cordarrelle Patterson when he became a free agent in 2017 and even hosted him on a visit. Signing with the Bears in 2015 or 2017 would have been a tough pill to swallow for some because of how non-competitive the team was at the time, so it likely would have taken over-pays to make the two sides come together. But now that the Bears look like contenders, which makes it easier to sign players who you believe fit your scheme. Ahhh, the joys of winning.
- Speaking of Patterson, he gets a mention in this piece by Larry Mayer at the Bears’ official website ushering in diversity in the Bears’ re-worked backfield. Because in addition to the 1-2 punch of Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis, you can figure Patterson is going to get his share of carries on jet sweeps, end arounds, and even some traditional hand-offs. Patterson has 86 carries for 682 yards and seven touchdowns in his six-year NFL career. No team utilized him in the ground game like New England did last year (42 carries, 228 yards) and it’s possible his usage with the Patriots opened up some eyes at Halas Hall.
Reminder that RBs in this offense need to do 3 things:
1) Run between the tackles (Howard 3.3 yards/carry there in 2018, among worst in NFL)
2) Catch the ball (Howard 20 catches in 16 games)
3) Make big plays (Howard among worst explosive play rates in the NFL)
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) March 29, 2019
- And yet, I have a feeling the Eagles are going to use this data to their advantage:
While it seems obvious, Jordan Howard did his best work when facing less than 8 defenders in the box during his time in Chicago.
Still, as he heads to Philadelphia, his grade when facing 7 or less defenders in the box ranked 13th since 2016. pic.twitter.com/Qgi3TCzWBO
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 30, 2019
- It’s not as if opposing defenses are going to stack 8 in the box with the type of outside weapons Philadelphia has, but I’m not convinced he is going to get the volume of opportunities with the Eagles as he did with the Bears. Howard was given the rock early and often during his best two seasons in Chicago because he was the most competent offensive player, which made him a workhorse by default. And while Howard made the most of those opportunities, he couldn’t find his footing in Year 3. Howard was given two fewer carries in 2018 than he was in 2016, but averaged 3.7 yards per rush in 2018 – or 1.5 fewer yards per carry than what he posted in 2016.
- To be clear, I still think Howard will do fine in Philadelphia. Howard enters a situation where there is no pressure on him to live up to lofty expectations, joins an offense with similar core beliefs than the one he just left, and becomes part of a backfield mix that could still get better in the upcoming draft. He has gone from a good situation in Chicago to a great one in Philadelphia. I’m not sure I know a Bears fan who doesn’t wish him well (except for when the two teams square off later this year).
- I see we have found the one bracket in America that isn’t busted:
- Oooh, Fanatics is taking 20 percent off all orders right now. Seems like a good time to stock up on gear to stock up on gear featuring your favorite teams … even the ones who have been eliminated from postseason play.