We check out the extensive statistical breakdowns from our friends at Pro Football Focus from time to time, and yesterday they revealed another of their yearly gems. Their blitz percentage breakdowns not only give a peek into which teams are sending extra players after the quarterback, but which teams are most effective when doing so.
Before we look at where they had the Chicago Bears for the 2013 season with Mel Tucker making the defensive calls, let's take a look back at the last three seasons when it was the Lovie Smith version of the Tampa 2 as called by Rod Marinelli.
In 2010 the Bears blitzed 27.30% of the time on their NFC North winning team. That number decreased to 26.60% in 2011 as they still had Julius Peppers doing Julius Peppers type stuff. Henry Melton also had his 7 sack break out season in 2011. In 2012 their blitz percentage dropped again, to 25.40%, and the Bears were 8th in the NFL with 41 sacks, their highest total since 2007.
Last year the Bears suffered injury after injury to their defensive line, and the remaining healthy players simply didn't generate a consistent enough pass rush. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker was forced to blitz last season and the Bears' blitz percentage jumped up to 30.58%, which was 17th highest in the NFL. Even though they were middle of the pack in blitz percentage, keep in mind a lot of the teams in front of the Bears were 3-4 defenses. As a 4-3, primarily zone team last year, the Bears didn't want to see their blitz numbers shoot up, but their hand was forced.
We looked at Chicago's pass rush productivity (PRP) earlier this year -- Who was the Chicago Bears' top pass rusher in 2013?-- and it wasn't pretty. For a quick recap on PFF's formula, PRP = (Sacks+0.75xHits+0.75xHurries)/Pass rush snaps.
The Bears had no defensive lineman among Pro Football Focus' PRP leaders last year, which is a big reason GM Phil Emery went out and secured potential upgrades across the board.
In 2013, when the Bears didn't blitz, PFF had the Bears ranked 30th in the NFL with a 21.0 PRP. Their PRP when blitzing increased to 32.1, which was 24th in the league. With the recent additions to the d-line, and with some luck in the health department, the Bears are hopeful they won't need to rely on the blitz as much this season.
Tucker will still send some pressure, but he'll be able to do it when it wants to, not because he has to.
When looking at total pressures (sacks, hits, hurries) in 2013, Peppers led the Bears with 40. He was followed by Shea McClellin with 33, and Corey Wootton chipped in with 32 from both defensive end and defensive tackle.
The new additions to the roster each eclipsed those three totals. According to Pro Football Focus, Jared Allen had 65 total pressures, Lamarr Houston had 63 and Willie Young had 60. All three also had more pass rush snaps than the three Bears from 2013, but each also had a higher PRP.
There's no denying that on paper, the Bears seriously upgraded their pass rush.
We'll have to wait and see if the Bears can equal that type of production on the field.
Do you think the Bears' blitz percentage will decrease in Tucker's second year?