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2016 Bears in Context: Passing Yards Allowed

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NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 Bears allowed only 93 yards after catch per game. That was good for second-best in the NFL, behind eventual Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots (91.4). Interestingly, the Atlanta Falcons were 32nd in the NFL in allowing 132.9 yards after catch per game. Hmm…that seems off.

It turns out that simply measuring yards after catch is an incomplete tool. A team might allow very few yards after catch per game because teams are giving up so many yards in the air that there isn’t the same pressure or even opportunity to run the ball after the catch is completed. This turns out to be the case with the Bears, because while the average NFL team surrendered 45% of its passing yards in the form of yards allowed after the catch, for the Bears it was only 39%. However, the Bears were 6th in the NFL in allowing only 239.3 passing yards per game. That’s still pretty good.

Oh, wait. There’s another reason why a team might not allow a lot of passing yards before or after the catch, and that’s because teams are passing against them less often. That turns out to be the case here, as the Bears faced the fourth-fewest pass attempts of any team in 2016.

The Bears allowed 7.22 yards per pass attempt faced, and that was good for 17th in the NFL.