Chicago Bears at Tennessee Titans
The Chicago Bears absolutely must turn to 12 personnel more this week against the Titans if they want a shot at winning the game.
Examine the Titans defensive splits vs 11 and 12:
Vs 11 personnel: 6.7 YPA, 56% success, +0.11 EPA
Vs 12 personnel: 10.8 YPA, 73% success, +0.55 EPA
Over the second half of the season, the Titans have gotten even worse vs 12 personnel, allowing 10.5 YPA, 81% success and +0.61 EPA. They’ve recorded zero sacks, are getting pressure on just 18% of dropbacks, and allowed 13 of 16 passes to be completed at an average depth of target of 9.3 yards.
The Bears are significantly better when using 12 personnel.
Since week 5, the Bears Offense is:
From 11 personnel: 5.3 YPA, 40% success, -0.29 EPA
From 12 personnel: 8.5 YPA, 71% success, +0.24 EPA
Yet for some reason, the Bears are passing just 10% of all attempts from 12 personnel. The Bears splits since week 5:
11 personnel on 68% of attempts
12 personnel on 10% of attempts
01 personnel on 10% of attempts
From 01 (no running backs, 1 TE), the Bears are averaging 6.5 YPA, 35% success and -0.44 EPA. Yet they use that grouping as often as they are using 12 personnel.
The Bears have been bad when running from 12 personnel, but they can’t let that deter them from using more 12 personnel.
After all, they go 78% pass when they’re using 11 personnel on the field. And they go 74% pass when they have 01 personnel on the field.
In fact, since week 5, the Bears are 78% pass anytime they have at least 3 WRs on the field.
Given the Bears don’t have as much an issue with predictability from those 3+ WR sets, there should be no harm in shifting from 53% run when in 12 personnel to a much higher rate of passing from 12 personnel.
All of this said, the Bears are likely down multiple players along the offensive lines. LG James Daniels and RT Bobby Massie are out. Question marks surround the following offensive linemen that won’t be decided until Sunday: RT Jason Spriggs, C Cody Whitehair, C Sam Mustipher.
Miami Dolphins at Arizona Cardinals
The reason the Dolphins beat the Rams was entirely on Brian Flores and his game plan to deal with the Sean McVay / Jared Goff offense.
However, my fear for the Dolphins Offense came true.
I didn’t want the Dolphins to take the ball out of Tua Tagovailoa’s hands because I knew it would spell disaster for this offense in general. But either they didn’t think it would spell disaster, or they knew Tua needed that help.
Let’s go back to games started by Ryan Fitzpatrick. On early downs in the first half:
Miami was the 3rd most pass-heavy team in the NFL, passing on 60% of these plays. These passes averaged 9.2 YPA with a 62% success rate, both above the NFL average.
It was a good they went so run heavy, because runs averaged only 3.9 YPC with a 46% success rate, both well below the NFL average.
When you see those splits, as an Offensive coordinator, the last thing you should want to do is run more. But they did.
Last Sunday, on these plays, Miami dropped from 60% pass down to 44% pass. If that was their rate all season, it would be the second-most run heavy team to only the Patriots.
The only teams that passed less often all played in bad weather games.
Instead of running on only 40% of plays, as they did weeks 1-7, they ran on 56% of plays.
These rushes recorded just 2.8 YPC with a 39% success rate. Second-worst in the NFL.
The white gloves approach to Tua didn’t help matters any, and he had a terrible game. They need to let him throw the ball more on early downs.
And that’s going to be essential against the Cardinals this week. On early down passes in the first half of games, the Cardinals allow 8.4 YPA and a 57% success rate. They are the sixth-worst pass defense in the NFL on these plays. The Dolphins need to take advantage of that and let Tua pass, but I’m not sure they will choose to do so.
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Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Last week’s game in the strong wind will skew results in any short-term look at the Raiders passing offense.
However, if we look at the prior three games, against pass defenses of the Buccaneers, Chiefs and Bills, Derek Carr’s splits when facing man and zone have been massive:
Vs zone: 9.2 YPA, 55% success, +0.25 EPA/att
Vs man: 7.3 YPA, 42% success, -0.01 EPA/att
Over that span of games, the Chargers have played over 75% zone coverage, well above the NFL average.
On the season, only six defenses play more zone coverage than the Chargers.
And very few QBs have bigger pro-zone splits than Carr on the season.
Pre-bye, on early downs in the first half of games, the Chargers were 54% run. They were the 2nd most run-heavy team in the NFL.
Since the bye, on early downs the Chargers have gone 64% pass.
On the season to date, the most pass-heavy team on these plays was the Seahawks, at 63% pass.
That means if the Chargers were playing like they are now over the full season, they would be the #1 most pass-heavy team in the NFL.