Three and Four: A Deep Dive into the Chicago Bears

In the first eight weeks of this season, the Chicago Bears are 3-4, putting them at the bottom of the NFC North. However, last year at this time, they were 4-3 and ended the season top of the division with a 12-4 record. Maybe this slow start is just a prequel to the Bears’s domination to come. Currently, the Green Bay Packers are number one in the division with seven wins and one loss. So, the Bears have quite a bit of work to do to climb to the number one spot.

Chicago’s passing defense is top ten when it comes to yards allowed. They’ve only allowed a total of 1,614 yards this season, which averages to 230.6 per game. Also, the Bears have only allowed seven passing touch downs. Again, by this measure, they’re in the top ten. Plus, they have 19 sacks and five interceptions. So, why are they losing? The New Orleans Saints beat the Bears with the highest margin of an 11 point lead. Out of seven games, they average a loss of 5.5 points per game. That’s one possession. If you remove the outlier of the 11 point lead, the average is only 3.6 points. On average, the Bears’s defense holds their opponents to 17.4 points per game, but again, if you remove the Saints game with scoring 36 points to get an 11 point lead, they can hold the teams to 14.6 points. That’s two possessions.

And the Bears’s rushing defense is also top ten. They’ve allowed the third least points on average per game this season. We’re talking they’re up there with the undefeated New England Patriots and the loss-less San Francisco 49ers. Cumulatively, the Bears’s defense have only allowed 122 points this entire first half of the season. They’ve limited their opponents’ offense to only 602 rushing yards in their first seven games, which averages to 86 yards per game. The Bears have a worthy defense.

Looking at the offense, Mitchell Trubisky has been with the Bears since he was drafted two years ago. While he still is quite new to the NFL, he’s worth noting. He has a 64.6 completion percentage, which is right up there with Tom Brady (64.7) of the Patriots. Although the percent is solid, Trubisky is lower when it comes to his attempts. This season, he has 195 attempts and only 126 completions. Comparing this to Brady, he’s ranked 25th on attempts while Brady is 3rd. Brady may have a similar completion rate, and with more attempts, he’s missed more. Yet, it also means he’s completed more. Brady has completed 200 during the first half of the season. That’s 74 more completions than the Bears’s QB.

Trubisky averages 32.5 attempts per game. So, if he completes 64.6% of those, he’s only completing 20.99. And Trubisky has one of the lowest average yards per play, coming in with 5.6 yards. So, with 20.99 completions at 5.6 yards, he’s averaging 117.54 completed passing yards.

He only has five touch downs in his first seven games. And all five of those were from two games. Two were against the Saints and three against Washington. He has also been sacked 14 times, which puts him as the 29th least sacked quarter back this season. Not great, but still in the top thirty quarterbacks for least sacks. Andy Dalton has been sacked 29 times, so Trubisky has been sacked half as much as Dalton.

Running back David Montgomery has three touch downs this season and has rushed for 366 yards. Last week against the Los Angeles Chargers, he had a season high of 135 rushing yards. This season, he only lost one fumble. He averages 3.7 yards per rush and 6.5 receiving yards. He’s the best running back for the Bears, and since the Bears have a stronger rushing game than passing, he’s bound to continue seeing plenty of ball time.

Allen Robinson is a beast. He’s the ninth best wide receiver in the league right now. His stats are through the roof! 76.9 yards per game, 11.4 yards per play, no fumbles, and three touch downs. He’s played in all seven games, and he seems to be a consistent player. Robinson is number one on the team for receiving yards. Amassing 526 yards, Robinson seems to always be a strong option for Trubisky.

We can’t forget about their kicker, Eddy Pineiro. He’s been the talk in recent news, and he did miss the final field goal last week, causing the team to lose. He’s missed only three field goals this entire season. Only three. Out of 15 total attempts, he’s completed 12 and missed three. And, unfortunately, two of those were during the LA Chargers game. In the first seven games, he’s made field goals all within 1-50+ yards. Pineiro is 4-4 for 1-29 yards and 2-2 for 50+ yards. So, all three of his misses were in the 30-49 yard window. Granted, the bulk of his attempts were in that window – 60% or nine of attempts were somewhere in there. Given these uncommon misses, Pineiro is not the reason the Bears are 3-4.

So, why isn’t this year the Bears’ year? Or at least, why aren’t they better?

It seems like Chicago’s defense isn’t the problem. It’s strong, it’s solid. It’s the Bears’s offense that’s holding them back. Like the old saying goes, a strong offense is a strong defense. They have only 13 touch downs in seven games. That’s only two more than the win-less Cincinnati Bengals, and they’ve only made 128 total points, which is only four more than the Bengals. Out of all 262 first downs played by either team in the Bears’s first seven games, only 49.2% of them belonged to them. This means that the Bears allow more 1st downs than they gain themselves.

One factor for having fewer 1st downs is their 3rd downs. Their opponents are better, slightly better, than them. They are able to have a 32.61% versus their opponents 32.94%. Chicago is 55.56% when it comes to 4th downs whereas their opponents have accumulated to 77.78%. Having such low success rates means the Bears have a hard time moving the ball. Their defense does their job and limits the other team, but the offense can’t seem to hold onto the ball. They give the ball away too much. If the Bears were able to continuously get first downs, they’d most likely have a higher win percentage. Another way to put it is that the Bears’s offense isn’t moving the ball enough.

Trubisky’s completion rate isn’t bad, their defense is good, and their kicker is mostly accurate. Improving their 3rd down percentage will significantly tighten their offense. Maybe they aren’t good under pressure, maybe Trubisky needs more protection, or maybe they need to call better plays. Trubisky seems afraid to take risky moves. But risky moves can have impressive results. Whatever the reason is, by increasing their efficiency, they’d most likely be able to gain more yards and more first downs, which, in turn, would provide more possession time and potentially more wins. We’ll find out this Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles if the Bears’s losing streak will continue or come to an end. The game is in Philadelphia at 10am PST.

*All stats are from ESPN

Season Record

Week 8 | Lost to Los Angeles Chargers

Week 7 | Lost to New Orleans Saints

Week 6 | Bye

Week 5 | Won against Washington Redskins

Week 4 | Won against Minnesota Vikings

Week 3 | Lost to Oakland Raiders

Week 2 | Won against Denver Broncos

Week 1 | Lost to Green Bay Packers

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