With the first trimester of the season in the rearview, let’s take a look at where the Bears offense if through the first five games. Caution, reader discretion is advised.
Yards Per Game: Ranked 30th (266 YPG)
This stat is especially alarming because the Bears offense has actually been more effective with their backup quarterback under center. Additionally, the dominating nature of the Bears defense give this offense more time on the field to put up yards – or in the Bears case, not put up yards.
Points Per Game: Ranked 28th (17.4 PPG)
This is a stat that has plummeted since about the middle of the 2018 season. Three major factors contribute to this: bad quarterback play, bad o-line play, and an offensive playbook that that seems like it has been figured out. It is a chicken or egg scenario: is the system bad because of the players? Or are the players bad because of the system? I don’t know, and I don’t care. I just want it figured out.
Yards Per Play: Ranked 30th (4.5 YPP)
This number is easily explainable and falls squarely on the lack of a running game. Consistently being in a 2nd and long position very much limits your playbook. RPO and zone running plays are just not working and I anticipate a change in aspects of this coming out of the bye week.
1st Downs Per Game Ranked 27th (17.4 1DPG)
What we can deduct from this stat is that Bears are really not a threat on plays 10 yards or longer. A 10-yard play gets you a second set of downs, which in turn, keeps opposing defenses on the field longer, thus equaling a high level of fatigue. When you are averaging only 17 1st downs per game, you are facing a fresh defense on about ½ of your possessions.
3rd Down Percentage Ranked 23rd (35%)
As we all know, Mitch Trubisky is not an overly accurate passer. So anytime you are facing a 3rd and medium/long, you are looking at routes that are not in Mitch’s 5-yard comfort zone. Add to this a porous line, and you can clearly see why the team struggles to convert 3rd downs.
Penalties Ranked 7th Highest (43 Penalties)
Like all coaches, Matt Nagy talks about discipline ad nauseam. And while 43 Penalties are a big number, this is more of an NFL officiating issue than it is a Bears issue. However, don’t take for granted that the Bears O-Line is among the most penalized units in the league. This reasoning behind this is simple: when you are not very good, you get beat, which then makes linemen hold. False starts and delay of games have been minimal, so this is more of talent issue with the linemen than it is an overall team discipline issue.
When looking at these numbers as a whole, the Bears are dreadfully comparable to the Dolphins, Redskins, Jets, and Bengals – four teams that share a combined two wins. And before you speak about the strength of the respective defenses the Bears have faced so far this year, please note keep in mind the only defensive juggernaut this team has faced is the Minnesota Vikings.
Coming off the off week, I am hoping we will see far less RPO and zone runs – the Bears are talented enough in the backfield that getting outside the tackles may be the plan that resurrects this offense. The NFL remains a league in which you have to be successful in the run game to be successful throwing the ball. Very few teams are good enough to be successful being one dimensional; the Bears are not one of them.
My biggest concern is that Matt Nagy is too proud to change his offensive philosophy in the run game and will keep trying to make chicken salad from a chicken shit line. Nagy is a guy who experienced much success and admiration in his rookie year as head coach. How that the sky is falling on him and he is getting figured out, it’s up to him to counter-punch and get this team in the end zone.
**In an effort to give a more accurate picture of the Bears offense, the above-noted rankings were taking prior to this past week’s games.