While projected stats have limited value - the quality of opponent varies, game plans may be different, game situations demand more passing or rushing, and injuries happen - there's been talk of how good a season Cutler was having before missing time with a groin injury. Just how good would it have been had he kept it going at the current rate, though?
The bye week seems as good a time as any to take a look at how our skill position players have been doing. In all cases, to get projected stats for the season I simply divided each stat from NFL.com by 7 and multiplied the result by 16, rounding up. I also included their 2012 stats and pre-2013 career averages (judgement calls for each player, if any, are noted with that player; I tried to make a quick 'n' easy decision that made sense) by way of comparison. Read on to see who's looking good, and who isn't.
QB: Jay Cutler
Career average is from the 2007-2012 seasons (having only started 5 games as a rookie in 2006). I thought it might also be interesting to break his career averages down between his two seasons as a full-time starter as a Bronco (2007, 2008 seasons) and the four as a Bear.
||TD (%)||Int (%)||Sck||
||QB rating||Rush att||Yds||Avg||TD||Fum|
||65.9||1,658||7.4||236.9||12 (5.3)||7 (3.1)
||236.9||27 (5.3)||16 (3.1)||23
|2012||434||255||58.0||3,033||7.0||202.2 (189.6)||13 (4.1)||14 (3.2)||38||60T||81.3||41||233||5.7||1|
NB. I calculated his average yards / 16 games and added it in parentheses after what was given on NFL.com for the official average yards / game, dividing the season total by 16 games regardless of the number played, to factor in durability and (indirectly) the ability of the team to protect him. As you can see, his avg/game declined in each of the bottom four rows, with the exception of the Denver stats; he appeared in every game during that two-season stretch. It may be a useful statistic to consider, it may not.
You'll notice there are two projected statlines for Cutler's 2013. The first leaves his current stats untouched and simply multiplied up for a "raw" look at how he would have projected for the season, shy about six quarters. It's worth noting that his only 16-game season as a Bear was his first, in 2009, so it's not unreasonable.
The second only used the six games that he finished when extrapolating what his stats would have been. Yes, this approach has the effect of removing an interception, but it's not unrealistic to see how his other passing stats may have gone had he remained fully healthy, and if he'd managed to continue his trend of improving as games wore on.
Think of them as worst- and best-case projections based on current-season stats. The "true" projected stats would probably lie somewhere inbetween.
RB: Matt Forte
Forte's stats are likely to go up if, as expected, the Bears rely on him more to take pressure off Josh McCown with Cutler out. His previous high for rushing yardage was 1,238 as a rookie. On the other hand, he's already on pace for 345 touches this season: is that too many, given the expensive backup on the sideline?
It could become a moot point if the Bears have to air it out more to chase upcoming games, given the state of the defense and expected downgrade of the McCown-led offense.
RB: Michael Bush
Career average is from his time with Oakland (2008-2011 seasons) over which he started 0, 7, 3 and 9 games, respectively. He still saw plenty of action as a rookie backup.
Bush was signed for whatever Tice's vision of the offense was meant to have been (the reality was very different from his claims of "We could have two 1,000 yard backs") and, although he's likely to see more action as the team is likely to lean on the running game more in Cutler's absence, it can't have escaped Phil Emery's notice that the money he's receiving is grossly disproportionate to what he's producing on the field of play.
Although it's not entirely his fault if he's not getting the snaps, one way or another it's a very real possibility that he won't be a Bear come the 2014 season. Lester even speculated recently that he could be traded.
WR: Brandon Marshall
Career average is from the 2007-2012 seasons (2006 was his rookie year, in which he only started one game).
Not on course to have as massive a season as he did last year, especially with McCown behind center for several games, but fewer knocks should keep him healthier and that, ultimately, is a good thing.
WR: Alshon Jeffery
Two 1,000 yard receivers! Been a while since that happened.
WR: Earl Bennett
Career average is from the 2009-2012 seasons (2008 was his rookie year, in which he recorded no stats).
Earl is now healthy, but buried as the Bears' #5 receiving option (behind Marshall, Jeffery, the other Bennett, and Forte), hence the reduced salary that the Bears negotiated in the preseason.
As Ronk shows in the most recent of his Chicago Bears Playbook series, McCown is a smart guy who does what the offense is designed to do, i.e. take what's there. With that in mind it wouldn't surprise me if Earl's individual production sees some upswing, even if the passing offense as a whole declines slightly for the duration of Cutler being out.
TE: Martellus Bennett
The Bears splashed out on Martellus Bennett in free agency with the singular aim of increasing productivity from the position. I combined the receiving stats of Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, neither of whom are still with the team, from last season so we could make a comparison...
|Davis, Spaeth 2012||25||257||10.3||25||3||1||1|
...never mind the remaining 9 games, in under half a season he's already outperformed them in every receiving category. Let's hope he stays healthy; at the current rate he would also eclipse Greg Olsen's best season as a Bear, in 2009.
So, that's the offensive side of the ball. Is there anything that catches your eye?
And, because it's now a habit, article photo in hi-res.
More from Windy City Gridiron:
- Two draft classes is far too early to judge Phil Emery
- NFL Power Rankings: How did the bye affect the Bears?
- The Bears Den: October 29, 2013 - Week 9 news and notes
- Ten Thoughts on the NFL: Chicago Bears and beyond
- Could Lovie Smith be coaching in the NFC North in 2014?
- Chicago Bears sign linebacker Larry Grant, add WR Terrence Toliver to the practice squad