Welcome to the Four Verts column, a weekly round-up of four NFL weekend topics that tickled my brain. This week, topics range from a serious talk about where Justin Fields and the Chicago Bears are, to a detailed look at Ken Dorsey’s fury in the final moments of the Buffalo Bills loss in Miami. The column is already quite long, so let’s dive in.
Justin Fields is right about his game, but hope is not lost
I have to tell Justin Fields this: he had an accurate estimate of his own game in the Bears’ 23-20 win over the Houston Texans. Fields said he played “terribly” and “like garbage” and was absolutely right. Yes, he’s getting used to the new offense and the Bears’ roster skills are lacking, but his own play has been subpar both by his own standards and what the Bears need from him in the future.
Fields didn’t play well. His play itself is paradoxical. He sees the field well, but doesn’t actually throw the ball. Even when the defense holds up (which can be risky as the Bears start a fifth-round rookie with a left tackle), Fields hesitates to pull the trigger. To his credit, his scrambling can lead to huge plays, but overall, Fields just doesn’t throw the ball enough.
The vision check matches the numbers. According to Timo Riske of Pro Football FocusThe Bears make purposeful passing attempts in 64% of their dropbacks, by far the lowest in the league. The Fields and Bears offense also leads the NFL in terms of scramble percentage, with 15% of their discards being scrambled. This isn’t necessarily a hindrance to offense, as Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles play successful football at about the same pace. But they throw the ball at a much higher level.
Among the 33 quarterbacks who played 48 games in a season, Fields is 32nd in expected points per game. (-0.147). According to the Pro Football Reference, Fields has also been sacked a whopping 18.4% of the time he’s dropped out, which is so bad that it’s almost impossible to continue him for the rest of the season. This has to change if the Bears are going to hold onto the winning record they miraculously have right now.
It’s not all over for Fields, though, even if his performance isn’t impressive. This is the first time this team has gone through all this together. Luke Getsy is the first player on the team, Matt Eberfluth is the rookie head coach, and Fields himself has only started 13 NFL games. You need to be patient here, but at the same time, the Bears need their young quarterback to fast improve.
The Arizona Cardinals were terrible, but why?
Few expected the Cardinals to dominate this season, especially after DeAndre Hopkins was suspended, but they were comically bad for the first three weeks. They needed Kyler Murray’s late-game heroism to take down the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2, and they never posed a real threat to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. This team is in disarray and the roster doesn’t seem to match her talent. Or maybe the harsh truth is that this roster is not as talented as previously thought and needs to be seriously retooled.
Despite this, a 1-2 start with the offense largely looking lifeless is not what this team wanted or expected after renewing the contracts of Murray, head coach Cliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim. So much is broken about the Cardinals that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what aspect of this team is making it move like a 2001 sedan with a rusted battery.
Let’s start with the positives. Murray seems to be an exceptional soldier in first-person shooter video games, and Kingsbury is as handsome as ever. Seriously though, the attack wasn’t a complete disaster, even if the Cardinals didn’t get as many points as they wanted. According to The Athletic’s Ben Baldwin, the Cardinals ranked 11th in expected points added per game (.004) and are averaging 20.7 points per game – not bad for a year where performance is declining across the board.
It’s really about it as far as the positives go. Overall, the Cardinals offense performs well statistically, but the passing game was far from good. Murray and the Cardinals are averaging -0.023 expected points per pullback, good for 20th in the league, and averaging just 4.8 clean yards per pass attempt. That number two is good for 30th in the league – behind the Jets and the Steelers!
This is usually the opposite of what happens to cardinals. They usually started the season with an exceptionally good passing offense and then fell off towards the end, but now they fly with clipped wings. They have enough offensive talent to get back on track and will bring Hopkins back from a week 7 suspension. It is hoped that this unit will look the way it should when Hopkins returns.
But protection, oh god, protection. The Cardinals were arguably the worst defense in football during the first three weeks of the season. The group ranks 31st in expected yards per game (.191) and last in yards allowed per game (6.7). Those numbers might be a bit skewed because the Cardinals were wiped out by Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in the first game, but they just allowed 7.4 yards per game to a Rams offense that hasn’t quite taken hold yet. After the loss of Chandler Jones to free agency, a downturn was expected. It was much worse than a simple fall. Healthy, cohesive offenses can get into the red against Arizona at will.
The Cardinals have invested heavily in this roster. They traded a first-round pick to Marquis Brown, received an expensive safety duo with Jalen Thompson and Budda Baker, and agreed to a contract with Murray that includes a guaranteed $189.5 million. This team has become too expensive in every way, including the front office, to be as productive as it is. At least one of the bets the Cardinals made about a contract extension this offseason didn’t seem to work. They will have to figure out which of these steps can be corrected and how they can get back in shape before completely squandering everything they have invested in this year.
Ken Dorsey Hysteria: Film Analysis
Hey, we all get angry sometimes. It may not be the madness caused by breaking a clipboard and paper, but anger is a normal human emotion. Unfortunately for Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, he was caught in a violent fit of rage after the Bills’ Week 3 loss against the Miami Dolphins.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Buffalo were only two points behind after the now infamous “butt kick,” but due to Isaiah McKenzie’s vain dance moves, time ran out before the Bills could make a splash and try to win the game. field goal. This made Dorsey explode.
Dorsey’s anger is understandable, but we don’t usually see an NFL coach in this state. this is went crazy while playing. Sure, there are screaming matches and throwing pills, but Dorsey only needed one dose of gamma radiation before his skin began to turn green, and everyone in the stadium was suddenly in a dangerous situation. It was an uncontrollable rage that was only controlled by the other coach, who covered the camera with his hand, blocking Dorsey’s further rampage from the TV viewers.
However, 10 seconds was enough to give you an idea of what happens when someone who is heavily invested in something becomes extremely frustrated in a matter of seconds. It was an effective level of destruction. The Bills hope to regain such offensive efficiency once they get past this bump in the road. (I still think they are the best team in the NFL.)
Let’s consider. Naturally, the first item Dorsey dropped was his headset. After such a loss, there is nothing to say. All the late-game luck you needed was gone in a second—as were the headphones from Dorsey’s head. Not only did he throw them on the table, but he tried to catch them for the Hulk’s second hit, but missed, and then started playing against everything within a 10″ radius of where he was sitting.
Dorsey’s hat was to be thrown next, but he hadn’t finished yet. The cap fell on the table, then Dorsey took his clipboard (most of us, not the NFL team) and his papers and tossed them into the cap. The hat didn’t deserve it! He sat right on his head and did nothing wrong!
The first pill toss was not Dorsey’s best effort. This is the same guy who has defended Miami’s greatest football teams this century. He had a small zipper on his hand. The first hit on the tablet wasn’t enough to unleash the fury he felt. It was soft. So he picked up the tablet again and started using it like a sledgehammer, crushing every fragile piece of paper in his path.
To Dorsey’s credit, he smashed the tablet in a safe way. The screen is pointing up, which means that Dorsey does not risk splashing glass on the table. It was a prepared move to protect himself and the other coaches sitting next to him. After three quality, stress-relieving swipes of the tablet, the concerned coach put his hand on the camera.
This move by the other coach was tricky, but the question is: did they see Dorsey go crazy on the air before the hand went over the camera? If so, then this is some higher-level awareness.
Mackenzie must be really bad for this. You see what a good man you have made…