Chicago Bears: Andy Dalton Advanced Stats: Deep passing

Chicago Bears (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears moving on from Mitch Trubisky to get Andy Dalton is a bit of a surprise, considering we are not sure that Dalton is necessarily an upgrade. Still, it is the move the team made and until we get to the NFL draft, he will be the presumptive starter as Nick Foles is likely to move on as well.

With a real chance that Dalton could be starting for Chicago week one, it is time to dig in and find out if there is any optimism here. We start with his deep passing profile.

We will start with just the 2020 season. Below you can see the passer chart for Andy Dalton and his success by distance. Dalton excelled at throwing to the right side, and while he hit best in the intermediate area of the field, his biggest issues came passing over the middle, no matter the depth.

Comparing Andy Dalton to Mitch Trubisky

Still, it is easy to see his contrast on deep passing compared to Mitch Trubisky below. Trubisky is pretty different from Dalton. His success comes all within 10 yards, and his issues come beyond. However, he is much better over the middle of the field than he is on the sidelines.

This could be a subtle but notable change with Dalton throwing more passing down the sidelines than Trubisky. However, on the other side, we may see less passing over the middle.

Comparing Mitch Trubisky and Andy Dalton to Nick Foles

Below you can see Nick Foles which looks much more like a mix of the two. He has short success in some areas, deep success in some, and is awful in similar areas. A 149.3 passer rating to the deep middle and 27.7 to the deep right is about how you can describe the roller coaster that was Nick Foles.

It may be fair to note that the inconsistency of Foles is why the Bears now prefer Dalton. With Mitch Trubisky, it would seem to be a more accurate deep ball down the sidelines that has their eye.

Foles, Trubisky, and Dalton all threw similar numbers of passes last season, which makes comparing them a lot easier. Foles had 312 attempts, Dalton with 333, and Trubisky at 297. For Foles, 13.1% of his passes went 20 yards downfield, per PFF. Dalton was at 10.2%, and Trubisky at 11.1%

Big Time Throws and Turnover Worthy Plays

According to PFF, Foles had the higher yards per attempt and completion rate than both. However, he also had the most turnover-worthy plays. Dalton had just 5.4% of his deep passes be considered turnover worthy. Meanwhile, 21.6% of his deep passes resulted in big-time plays. Foles was at 25.5% with big-time passes, and 12.8% in turnover-worthy passes. Trubisky was at 19.4% in big-time passes, and 11.1% in turnover-worthy plays.

So, again, we see that he is better at deep passing success than Trubisky, and is less up and down than Dalton. Maybe not completely an upgrade from or the other, but a happy medium between the two.

Looking at Andy Dalton and his big-time throw vs turnover-worthy plays as a deep passer, it was worth wondering if 2020 was consistent with his typical deep passing success. Below is a chart that highlights his number of big-time throw percent (orange) and his turnover-worthy throw rate (gray). For a little perspective, the success of Mitch Trubisky is each was added.

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Last two years Trubisky started to throw too many turnover-worthy passes down the field. Dalton did not hit Trubisky’s deep turnover-worthy pass rate since 2014, and he only hit that high in 2014. He is much more careful throwing down the field.

You can see that he has typically been rewarded more as a deep passer as well. Dalton peaked ar 30%, in big-time throws, but has typically hovered near 25%. Trubisky typically is just over 20% in his career.

Next. 10 FAs Bears could still add. dark

Now, Aaron Rodgers is at 38.9% and Russell Wilson at 35.6% in big-time throws down the field, so do not think I am out here calling Dalton a wizard with the deep ball.

However, while Dalton may not be head and shoulders better than Mitch Trubisky, he is certainly the better deep ball passer. He turns it over less, connects on big plays more, and even tests the deep ball more often.