What can Chicago Bears expect from Danny Trevathan
The Chicago Bears giving Danny Trevathan the extension that they did was surprising at the time. Trevathan was coming up on age 30, he had a long history of injuries, and the Bears had a decision to make between keeping Trevathan or going to the younger Nick Kwiatkoski.
Ryan Pace has loved the process of draft and develop, so when he let the younger Kwiatkoski go, and the price was not extravagantly different, it seemed out of character.
Unfortunately for the Bears it does look like they made the wrong choice. Trevathan got his legs towards the end of the 2020 season, but early on it had looked as though we had seen the end of the road for Trevathan.
The issue is that the contract structure not only makes it nearly impossible to move on this year, but they would struggle to find it acceptable to make a move next year, either.
With that in mind, they had better hope that Trevathan did not hit the end of his run, and has two more good seasons left. The question is whether that is realistic or not. Most players that hit a physical wall at age 30 are not getting back to their peaks for ages 31 and 32. At linebacker, this has been very rare.
Last year Trevathan posted an approximate value of 8. Looking at players who had an AV of 5 or higher, to lower the bar, we see only six players since 2010.
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A surprising note is that all of them actually had an AV over 10. So, not a single linebacker over the age of 30 had a season that produced an AV less than 10, but more than five. Essentially if you are playing linebacker over the age of 30 you are either an outlier due to how unbelievably good you are, or you are not providing much value at all.
Unfortunately for Trevathan the only season he had an AV over 10 was in 2018. This consistent play was a common occurrence for the names listed above but would be rare for Trevathan at any age, let alone at his older age. The odds are much greater than Trevathan will be playing at a career-low of sorts more than a career-high.
The Demario Davis route
Davis had a good career and was healthier than Trevathan in his 20s. However, Davis has had his best seasons in New Orleans at age 30, and 31. This is not to say that Trevathan can find this magic, but it may help if the Chicago Bears change his usage to be more like Davis.
You can see from their 2020 seasons below that Davis and Trevathan had similar production numbers. Of course, that is aside from the pass rush.
In fact, according to PFF, Trevathan had an 8.8% stop rate, and Davis had a 6.6% stop rate, so Trevathan had a few more impact tackles as well. However, PFF also confirms that it is not exactly that Davis is a pass rush master compared to Trevathan as much as it just comes down to usage.
Davis rushed the passer 136 times in 2020, while Trevathan rushed just 37 times. The Saints blitzed Davis on 21% of his snaps and dropped him into over 79% of the time. On the other side, Trevathan was in coverage 92% and was blitzing closer to 8%. In 2019 Davis blitzed 26% and Trevathan was at 11%.
It may be that Trevathan is getting exposed in coverage more than Davis because Davis is blitzing more and not in coverage.
The Chicago Bears have to realize what they have in Trevathan. Shown in their tackle rates you can see that Trevathan can still get downhill and is not one to blow a tackle when he steps into a gap. However, teams know that he has lost a step and will pick on him.
Davis still plays in coverage plenty, and graded out much better. However, it is his effectiveness as a pass rusher that helps him. Teams have to respect his pass rush, and it eases his load and how many chances he gets to be exposed in coverage. If the Bears want to get the most out of Trevathan they will blitz him about 10% more often in 2021 than they did in the prior couple of seasons, and help reduce how many snaps he is out there in man coverage.