Chicago Bears defense vs. multiple receiver sets

EAST RUTHERFORD NJ - OCTOBER 03: Hakeem Nicks #88 of the New York Giants runs with the ball against Chris Harris #46 and Charles Tillman #33 of the Chicago Bears at New Meadowlands Stadium on October 3 2010 in East Rutherford New Jersey. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Football Outsiders is a stat heavy site for the inner football geek in all of us.  They recently broke down a defense's effectiveness against various receiver sets.  Through all their number crunching they found a pattern in which teams that defended the 4/5 receiver sets the best, won more often.  After the jump we'll look at how the Bears fared against the multiple WR sets.

In their article they reference DVOA or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average.  For a description on that stat you can click here.

Football Outsiders ranks each team by their DVOA percentage, and the Bears did good against multiple receiver sets.  Against offense's with 4 or 5 wide receivers they ranked 2nd in the NFL behind only the Steelers.  Against 3 WR sets they ranked 7th and against 2 WR sets they ranked 5th.  Where the Bears didn't grade out as well was against no or 1 receiver, they finished 26th in that category.

So you would think that teams would realize they have good success with the 0/1 WR look and they would simply do that more often against the Bears.  But that wasn't the case.  Football Outsiders also broke out the percentage of times teams faced the various looks, and the Bears faced almost the NFL average of looks. The frequency in which NFL teams on average faced a 0/1 WR set was 11% of the time, the Bears faced that front 10% of the time.  The NFL average for facing a 2 WR set was 38% which is the same for Chicago.  The Bears and the NFL average against 3 WR sets was also the same, at 43%.  The average NFL defense saw the 4/5 WR looks on 8% of snaps while Chicago faced that look on 9%.

I may be digging too deep inside that stat, but them facing so close to the NFL average for the various looks tells me that teams couldn't pick up tendencies from their defense.  If the Bears can get better DT play in 2011, that DVOA number should improve vs. the 0/1 WR look, which is a traditional running offense.

Disguising coverages, varying your defensive looks, and blitzing from different angles are all done to try and confuse an offense.  Bottom line is, the NFL has become a passing league with all the various rule changes the last number of seasons.  Teams have to defend the pass to win in today's NFL.

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