The 2016 Bears allowed 4.4 yards per rushing attempt. That’s tied with 20th in the NFL, per Sporting Charts. First-place Seattle allowed 3.4 yards per attempt while the Miami Dolphins allowed 4.8 yards per attempt. As sad as it sounds, the Bears actually improved both in absolute and relative terms compared to 2015, when they allowed 4.5 yards per carry and placed 26th in the league.
However, one set of metrics dives deeper, and that’s Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric for defensive lines. This measure attempts to isolate line play, and so it makes adjustments to have it operate independently.
The defensive line was twentieth in adjusted line yards in the NFL and it actual was 10th in the NFL when it came to stopping the power run, only allowing first downs on runs of two yards or less during 3rd and 4th downs around 60% of the time. Even better, at the second-level run (5-10 yards past the line of scrimmage), the Bears were 14th. However, outside of that range, they broke down, falling to 24th in the NFL against open-field runs.
With the exception of open field runs, all of these ranks represent improvement from 2015 relative to the other teams in the league.
What are your thoughts on the Bears’ run defense in 2016?