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SAN FRANCISCO--Folks, it might be time for some people to offer up an apology of sorts to KC Joyner, who runs the Web site TheFootballScientist.com.

Joyner was flamed thoroughly on here back in the spring for some of his observations when it came to Jay Cutler. I haven't seen Joyner do an I-told-you-so, but his articles and statistics on Cutler and risk taking look to have proven quite accurate now through nine games. His five-interception performance Thursday night at Candlestick Park was a stunner. He leads the NFL now with 17 interceptions. Let's put that in perspective--Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman combined for 14 last season. The Bears had 21 interceptions as a team in 2007. When Grossman cemented his risk-taker image in 2006, he threw 20 interceptions. As it stands, Cutler is on pace for 30 picks. The franchise record is 31 set by good ol' Sid Luckman back in 1947. Bill Wade tossed 24 in 1962 and George Blanda had 24 in 1953. Johnny Lujack threw 22 in 1949.

"I don't,'' Cutler said when asked to explain the turnovers. "I have to go back and look at it.''

Yes, Cutler supporters are going to rush to his defense, as they did after the four-pick performance at Green Bay, and claim they were not his fault. Hold on a minute on that. Cutler two red-zone interceptions now give him five for the season and nine in the last 25 games dating back to last season. That's throwing away a minimum of three points (chip shot field goal) every time.

Pick 1. His first pick, snared by nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin at the one-yard line, ended an 88-yard, 18-play drive that took up more than nine minutes in the first half. Talk about a momentum killer. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner said he could have made a better call on third-and-goal at the one. Fine. Don't throw the ball into intense coverage of tight end Kellen Davis, though. The blame goes to Cutler.

Pick 2. The second pick came after Devin Hester fell down coming out of his break on a deep comeback. It looked like Hester's fault but the ball never should have been thrown to him. Tarell Brown was playing way off of Hester. The wide receiver tried to beat him with a little stutter-and-go move but Brown was playing so far off, nothing of the sort was going to work. He was sitting all over the route.

"The corner sat,'' Hester said. "I was trying to come out of the break because he was anticipating the route. So he was going to get there before me. By the time I got close to him he was getting ready to jump the route, so I tried to hurry up and come out and beat him to it.''

Hester stumbled to the turf, Brown intercepted and returned the ball 51 yards to the 49ers' 14-yard line. Frank Gore scored on a run on the next play, the game's only touchdown. Here's the bottom line: The ball never should have been thrown to Hester. Brown was all over the route and Cutler should have recognized that.

Pick 3. Pressured in the pocket, Cutler tried to push the ball to Hester, who was crossing the field. I haven't seen all the TV replays but it appeared he was impeded by the umpire on the play and Dashon Goldson made the pick. This was a result of Cutler trying to make a play, not a bad decision if the replays hold up.

Pick 4. Mark Roman beat Davis to a ball over the middle of the field for an interception. The big tight end needs to find a way to win this battle here, but it's what happens when a quarterback tries to fit a pass into a tight spot. The play was doomed from the start though as the snap to Cutler in the shotgun was on the ground.

Pick 5. Cutler stepped up in the pocket and threw for Greg Olsen in the back of the end zone but the Niners knew he'd be looking to his favorite target and this play had no chance with Michael Lewis easily intercepting.

BOURBONNAIS, Ill.--For all the readers who believe KC Joyner has nothing but gloom and doom predicted for the Bears this season, he's got a new post for you to digest.

Writing for the Fifth Down Blog at the New York Times, Joyner expands on what he's said in the past, that running back Matt Forte is the next Brian Westbrook. As we pointed out here before, Joyner's analysis shows that Roberto Garza was one of the more effective run-blocking guards in the league last season and Josh Beekman wasn't too far off.

We reached out to KC Joyner to go over some of the run blocking metrics he completed after film review of the Bears. The numbers showed that right guard Roberto Garza was not only the Bears' most efficient run blocker last season, he was one of the best guards in the game, ranking ahead of the three Pro Bowlers Joyner has final numbers for--Chris Snee, Leonard Davis and Alan Faneca.

"If you ask me about the 22 teams I've run the numbers on so far, he is probably the second most surprising,'' said Joyner, who will publish the results and more in Scientific Football 2009. "[New York Jets center] Nick Mangold is probably the most surprising. I knew Mangold was good but he is head and shoulders above any other center and will probably be the highest ranked POA lineman [94.3 percent] when I am done in another two weeks.

"The last time I did this, in 2005, Garza was in the low 80's and for him to be [at 88.3] is a little surprising in that he's ahead of these Pro Bowl guards. I love doing the numbers, watching the tape and then running the numbers. In most cases the numbers agree with what you say in scouting, `This player is this and that.' Usually, the metrics follow what you're seeing in scouting. Whenever the two disagree, I lean on the metrics more than scouting. You can see a player have one bad play and in the back of your mind, `He stinks.' The metrics don't care. The one bad play will be registered and then `Let's see the other 150 he had.'''

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Some observers speculated that Roberto Garza's standing as the right guard was in jeopardy after the Bears signed Frank Omiyale to a contract just hours into free agency.

That's proven not to be the case--Omiyale is the favorite to lock down the left guard job when training camp opens. Just today another observer produced evidence that helps explain why Garza isn't going anywhere. KC Joyner, author and publisher of The Football Scientist, was kind of enough to share with us his run blocking metrics after just completing film analysis of the Bears. He's halfway through the NFC North (having also completed a review of the Detroit Lions) and Joyner has already knocked out the AFC East, NFC West, NFC East, AFC North and AFC South, meaning he's nearly three-fourths of the way through the league with just the AFC West and NFC South remaining after he polishes off Green Bay and Minnesota.

What do his findings show? Not only was Garza the best lineman for the Bears last season, he was among the best right guards in football. His numbers are superior to some Pro Bowl guards. Before we jump into the numbers, let's try to make sense of them.

Joyner's system, which will be published in Scientific Football 2009 a little later on this summer, is based on what he calls the Point of Attack (or POA). It tracks how often a blocker is at the POA where a running play is directed. We'll let him describe it:

"It is not based on the location of the block but rather specifically tracks which blockers were actually at the point of attack. A POA block is considered to be successful (i.e. a POA win) if the blocker created a lane through which the runner could go.


"If the blocker is beaten at the POA, I segment those losses into five categories: Gap stuff (blocker gets stopped at POA); Defeated block (defender gets past blocker at POA); Pushed into backfield/POA (blocker gets moved into backfield/POA and negatively impacts runner's progress); Penetration (defender gets past blocker and makes contact with ballcarrier in backfield); Stringout (defender strings run to outside out). The last formula takes into account run penalties. An offensive penalty (i.e. holding, illegal use of hands, etc.) counts as a POA loss and a defensive penalty as a POA win."

Joyner considers an 80 percent net POA winning percentage to be acceptable. He charts the number of yards gained/lost on each POA run for a lineman. The chart below shows that not only did Garza do well last season, so did Josh Beekman, who will be in competition with Omiyale at left guard.

Lineman POA attempts Yards Avg. POA Pct.

RG Roberto Garza 205 960 4.7 88.3
LG Josh Beekman 175 834 4.8 85.7
RT John Tait 104 443 4.3 84.6
C Olin Kreutz 168 726 4.3 81.5
LT John St. Clair 112 459 4.1 79.5

While most other NFL teams are slowly reeling in the remainder of their draft classes with signings that are becoming more plentiful by the day, the Bears have had that business wrapped up for more than a month. The season is fast approaching and the Bears' first training camp practice at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill., is two weeks from today. We've already put in our request for an 80-degree day with full sunshine and a light breeze. Individual game tickets go on sale a week from Saturday on July 25 at noon via Ticketmaster phone and Internet outlets.

As our 30-day countdown to camp marches on with little news, we're going to jump around with a few different items this morning. But first, we have a little news.

According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Bears and Olivet Nazarene have reached an agreement for the team to leave camp following practice on Aug. 20. The contract between the club and the school allowed the Bears to occupy campus through Aug. 21 but school officials asked the team to leave a day earlier to allow them time to prepare for the arrival of the student body of 2,500 beginning Aug. 22. That means the Bears will be at another location for their Aug. 21 walk through in advance of their second preseason game Aug. 22 at Soldier Field vs. the New York Giants. For a complete training camp schedule, go here.

*** KC Joyner was able to sidestep much of the Jay Cutler firestorm he's been at the center of recently in another chat on ESPN.com. It's Joyner's opinion that this could be a better team than the one that went to Super Bowl XLI following the 2006 season.

"Wouldn't you know it, I only get one question in and a Cutler comment gets posted. I'll say this about the Bears - they get a lot of turnovers and have the next Brian Westbrook in their backfield. They went to the Super Bowl with less talent than what they have now. Cutler will hurt them at times but many teams have won with QBs that have high bad decision rates, so they have at least a 50/50 shot at the division."

That is high praise for running back Matt Forte that we detailed here. No one seems up in arms with that comparison by Joyner. By the way, later on in his Thursday chat he clarified that he has Minnesota as the favorite to claim the NFC North, but called them a 51/49 favorite over the Bears.

KC Joyner received such a spirited response from Bears and Jay Cutler followers last week in his online chat at ESPN.com that he's back with more analysis, this time on the New York Times' blog The FIfth Down.

Joyner's comment that Cutler "will make Bears fans remember Rex Grossman'' has sparked controversy here and in plenty of other places, including ProFootballTalk.com. Joyner says that Cutler is a risk taker who will win some games for the Bears with his aggressive approach and lose some for them as well. Cue the fireworks.

"I understand that fan scrutiny comes with the territory, so I don't mind that, but what I don't understand is why those fans are treating Cutler differently than they did either Grossman or Kyle Orton. Grossman was on fire during the first part of Chicago's Super Bowl season, and yet as soon as he had the bad game against Miami, it seemed the entire city turned on him. It didn't go that much differently for Orton. He had a tremendous start to the 2008 season, but when he struggled down the stretch, the populace seemed to say goodbye and good riddance without much of a second thought."

Joyner points out that while Cutler passed for more than 4,500 yards in Denver last season, he was second in the league with 616 attempts and his yards per attempt on vertical throws was 9.8 yards, 20th in the league. The stat that has readers here most agitated is the bad decision rate of 4.6 percent with Joyner defining a bad decision as one that leads to a turnover or a near turnover. Presumably (we're interested in learning more about this), it doesn't include a ball that goes off a wide receiver's shoulder pads and bounces 10 feet to the nearest defender before being intercepted. The bottom line is we don't have those numbers in front of us other than the 4.6 percent rate for Cutler was worst in the league.

One of the common replies, at least here, to all of this has been that Cutler played with one of the worst defenses imaginable on an 8-8 Broncos team and had to keep chucking the ball to try to keep his team in games. (Every quarterback is going to make more mistakes when they are playing from behind). Denver's defense was 29th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. The good folks at Football Outsiders ranked the defense 31st in the league, so we can agree it was sufficiently lousy.

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Our daily countdown to training camp is being thrown off schedule just a little bit by some more company-imposed breaks, and Saturday is one of those days. So we'll post another countdown to training camp right now and get back to it on Sunday when we're welcome in the office again.

Once again, Jay Cutler dominated the conversation in an online chat hosted by KC Joyner. Talking football for an hour on ESPN.com on Thursday, Joyner got hit from many angles on Cutler. As you might imagine, he stuck to his theory that Cutler will win some games for the Bears but he will also lose some because of his risk taking. If you want to take a look at the entire chat, it's right here. Joyner watches as much tape as anybody doing statistical analysis out there.

"I've said it many times and I'll say it again, Cutler will make Bears fans remember Rex Grossman,'' Joyner said. "He'll make just as many crazy passes but won't suffer the Grossman fate because Chicago's fan base is so in love with him that they will forgive the nutty throws he makes in ways that they never forgave Grossman."

Think it could be so? Grossman came under fire during 2006 even when the Bears were winning. Could the same thing happen to Cutler? Our bet would be that he will have an extended honeymoon.

So, one chat follower responded, "That's the craziest assumption I've ever heard in my life. If Cutler is as bad as Grossman, you'll get promoted and Jay will be run out of town with JA [Jerry Angelo], Lovie [Smith] and company.''

Responded Joyner: "It's funny. Whenever I say Cutler will remind Bears fans of Grossman, they get all up in arms. All Grossman did was take Chicago to their first Super Bowl in years and the Bears fans couldn't run him out of the starting spot quick enough. They'll win with Cutler but man will they grit their teeth when he blows a game or two with his over the top risk taking.

"You know what really bothers me about Cutler? The idea that fans can't comment on him in a non-emotional manner. Every Bears fan thinks he is the next coming of Jim McMahon. When I point out that he has performance issues and that Grossman had those same issues, they just go overboard instead of saying, `Hey, that's a good point, can he improve in that area?'

"I'm basing my Cutler comments on three seasons of Denver tape breakdowns. He's a huge risk-taker and that equates to about 1 in 20 of his passes being an [interception] or near [interception] because of a mistake on his part. He'll win games in the Windy City and when he does, I'll hear it from Bears fans. I just want to hear from those same fans when his risk-taking costs the team a big game and I'll all but guarantee that will happen.''

If that wasn't enough Bears chatter for a one-hour session, Joyner was also asked about running back Matt Forte.

"Forte will be this generation's Brian Westbrook,'' Joyner said. "He'll have a great year no matter who is behind center for Chicago."

That stopped us for a minute and got us thinking. Typically, Forte has been compared to other tall running backs, Eddie George is the first that comes to mind. Running backs Tim Spencer, who coached George at Ohio State, has even drawn the parallels. We've heard people use Marcus Allen and Eric Dickerson as comparables also but think linking a second-year back to Hall of Famers is a little premature, maybe a lot premature. But Westbrook has been a dominant force in Philadelphia for some time. He's been an integral part of the Eagles' offense since coming into the league in 2002, and he topped 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in 2007.

The post made here on Friday before the contract signing party commenced at Halas Hall generated quite a bit of buzz.

Football Scientist author KC Joyner made a case that Jay Cutler was too mistake prone and that ultimately that would limit his success with the Bears. The majority of responses were negative and the general consensus was figures lie and liars figure. We feel compelled to study all sides of an issue and another study by Joyner has been brought to our attention that perhaps will better explain his opinion that is shaped by statistics.

Back in mid-March when the Cutler trade winds were blowing, Joyner analyzed his performance vs. that of Brett Favre in New York. The Jets were rumored to be one of the teams pursuing Cutler and Joyner took their 2008 numbers and put them side-by-side in a blog post for the New York Times. Everyone knows Favre fizzled down the stretch, ultimately leading to his departure and the exits of others, including coach Eric Mangini. The results here might surprise you.

Joyner points out that both quarterbacks worked with solid receivers and also had quality pass-catching tight ends. He calls both quarterbacks "vertically inclined." His study measured the yards per attempt for each quarterback at different depth levels (how far the ball was thrown downfield). Here is how they matched up:

Short passes (0-9 yards) - Cutler 6.2, Favre 5.8

Medium passes (10-19 yards) - Cutler 8.8, Favre 9.5

Deep passes (20-29 yards) - Cutler 11.2, Favre 9.6

Bomb passes (30+ yards) - Cutler 11.9, Favre 9.1

Overall YPA - Cutler 7.3, Favre 6.5

Vertical passes (medium, deep and bomb combined totals) - Cutler 9.8, Favre 9.5

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Most are in agreement expectation levels for Jay Cutler in his first season as Bears quarterback are at third-and-long or fourth-and-forever by now. It is going to be challenging for him to meet them, in his first season anyway.

"Anytime a team wants to make a trade like that and give up what they gave up, it's going to be a lot of pressure, a lot of high expectations,'' Cutler said last week after an OTA. "I welcome it. It's going to be fun. It's going to be a good challenge.''

The Bears don't need Cutler to replace John Elway. They need him to be Elway. They've never had that quarterback in franchise history and much is being expected of him even though little has been done with the exception of some new and moving parts on the offensive line. Now that the Bears have their quarterback, they can go out and build around him.

One analyst who is tempering enthusiasm is KC Joyner, who publishes The Football Scientist. No one tackles more game tape than Joyner and he's not convinced Cutler is going to do more than make the Bears' receivers better alternatives in fantasy football.

"Regarding Cutler, I've said many times and I'll say it again, he'll make Bears fans remember Rex Grossman quite fondly,'' Joyner said Thursday in an online chat on ESPN.com.

He bases this opinion on what he calls the "bad decision rate" Cutler has in comparison to other quarterbacks. Joyner finds that Cutler is even more of a risk taker than Grossman was. One gunslinger has been replaced by another, a guy who just happens to be carrying a bigger gun.

"His bad decision rate is 5 percent,'' Joyner said. "That means one out of every 20 passes he throws is either an interception or a near interception because of a mistake he made. A high YPA [yards per attempt] can offset a high bad decision rate but the upper limit for offsetting tends to be around somewhere between 3 and 4 percent. Cutler has got to stop making so many mistakes, period.''

Cutler threw 18 interceptions last season in Denver. Only Brett Favre, after a disastrous stretch at season's end, had more with 22. His yards per attempt average was 7.3, which ranked 10th. The thinking is that now without Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal to throw to, Cutler could wind up pressing.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the KC Joyner category.

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