FanPost

What Happened? A Stroll Through the Carnage of the Bears' Defense.

There is a lot of talk flying around about the defensive collapse this year, many opinions on what is to blame - I am sure we can all agree that someone must be blamed, and then burnt! - so I thought I would try to shed some light on some of them.

This is obviously a complex problem so I am going to look at one issue at a time (otherwise this would become a nightmare to write and probably similar to read). This time, whether Mel Tucker should have done better? They were the same players as last year weren't they? Or were they, here are the snap counts.

(All snap count data from Football Outsiders. They get it from the NFL though so it may also be available on the NFL website.)

Let's start with the defensive line and the percentage of defensive snaps played by each player in '12 and '13.

Player

'12 snaps

'12 snap %

Peppers

785

75

Idonije

711

68

Melton

607

58

Paea

595

57

Wooton

572

54

McClellin

363

35

Collins

243

23

Okoye

229

22

Toeaina

77

7

Player

'13 snaps

'13 snap%

Peppers

851

82

Wooton

846

81

McClellin

651

62

Paea

474

45

Cohen

327

31

Bass

311

30

Ratliff

207

20

Collins

191

18

Melton

123

12

Tupuo

70

7

Ozougwu

63

6

3 others

38

4

So what does this tell us? Firstly that the Bears had to find someone to replace Idonije and the 711 snaps he played at both end and tackle. Secondly that there are more players on the 2013 list due to injury. Thirdly that the preseason tackle rotation of Melton, Paea and Collins played 1445 snaps in 2012 and were only able to take the field for 788 snaps in 2013 (55% of the snaps played by those three the previous year. Concurrent to this the snap totals for the top four defensive ends rose from 2431 in ‘12 to 2659 in '13 as Wooten slid inside to attempt to cover for the lack of quality tackles.

Now for the linebackers, again number of snaps and the percentage of snaps.

Player

'12 snaps

'12 snap %

Briggs

1007

96

Urlacher

715

68

Roach

697

66

Hayes

138

13

Constanzo

38

4

Thomas

9

1

Player

'13 snaps

‘13snap %

Anderson

998

96

Bostic

605

58

Briggs

557

53

Greene

230

22

Williams

212

20

Constanzo

25

2


As you can see there is not a lot of carryover between years here. Of course Urlacher retired and Roach signed elsewhere so there was going to be change but the Briggs injury robbed the linebacking unit of any continuity it may have been hoped to have. In 2012 the long term group of Urlacher, Briggs and Roach combined for 2419 snaps; with departures and injuries Briggs alone was left and limped to 557 snaps which represents 23% of the snaps that 53, 54 and 55 had given them the previous year.

Lastly the secondary, snaps and percentages.

Player

'12 snaps

'13 snap %

Wright

1028

98

Tillman

921

88

Jennings

885

84

Conte

856

81

Hayden

460

44

Moore

363

35

Walters

111

11

Steltz

108

10

Bowman

20

2

Player

'13 snaps

'13 snap %

Jennings

1032

99

Conte

1029

99

Wright

935

90

Bowman

593

57

Frey

508

49

Tillman

432

41

Steltz

121

12

McManis

12

1

As you can see, plenty of turnover here too. Tillman missing half the season bumped Bowman up from hardly any plays at all to nearly 600 and the Bears effectively replaced their nickelbacks from Hayden/Moore to Frey. In fact the starting four plus nickelbacks combined for 4513 snaps in ‘12 yet were only able to amass 3428 snaps in '13.

So there you have it, the snap numbers. Is it the same defense? Not really, the linebackers were almost all new (especially so after the Briggs injury) and while the DTs did play 55% of the snaps that they had played the year before bear in mind that the 314 snaps played by Melton and Collins (40%) are all near the start of the year. For most of the year ends were being co-opted to play DT as evidenced by the huge number of snaps played by the DEs, despite having lost quality depth there when Idonije left. It is a nice wrinkle to slide a DE inside and indicates a versatile and useful player but having to do it for 600 snaps is a long way from ideal. We do not know what Mel Tucker would have done with the players available to Rod Marinelli the previous year; what we do know is that the players he did have were not the same and all indications are that they weren't as good either.

Next time I intend to focus on the run defense using some of my favourite advanced stats - assuming anyone wants to read any more that is.

(Also I tried to get the tables for each group next to each other but I seem to have failed, apologies)

<em>This FanPost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member, and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.</em>

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