Yesterday we dropped the surprising nugget that Pro Football Focus has the Chicago Bears’ offensive line rated as the 5th best in the NFL. According to them, Chicago’s outstanding interior makes up for less than stellar play at the tackles.
Back in May, our sister site that covers the Minnesota Vikings, The Daily Norsemen, used the PFF grades to determine which of the four NFC North teams have the best starting lineups, and again, very surprising, but they found that it was the Bears.
I’m not sure what changed between May and now, but PFF just released their rankings of the 32 teams in the NFL, and now they show that the Bears are ranked third in the NFC North at 18th overall. The Green Bay Packers are 4th overall, the Minnesota Vikings check in at 12th, and the Detroit Lions are 28th.
Here’s some of what PFF had to say (via ESPN Insider).
Biggest strength: Jerrell Freeman was the top-graded linebacker (93.8) in the league in 2016, but he missed four games due to suspension. He has been an elite playmaker over the past two seasons, notching 59 defensive stops last season and 51 the season before.
Before last year, Freeman had only missed seven games since 2012. Hopefully that suspension was just one of those “oops, my bad” things and it never happens again.
Biggest weakness: The Bears have several major question marks among their starters with no clear standout at receiver or in the secondary. Plus, free-agent signee Dion Sims was one of the lowest-graded tight ends in the league last season, particularly as a blocker.
Granted, I didn’t watch every single play from Sims last year in Miami, but the bit I sought out, he looked like an adequate blocker. The Dolphins had the 9th most rushing yards per game last year, and their 4.5 yards per carry tied for 7th in the league. Sims was on the field for 73.9% of their offensive plays, so was their success running the ball in spite of him?
Maybe the 26 year old Sims is still ascending as a player, and the Bears will get a more polished player.
By the numbers: The interior of the offensive line -- guards Josh Sitton and Kyle Long and center Cody Whitehair -- combined to surrender only 30 total pressures in 2016, but tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie gave up a combined 73.
The sack numbers were really skewed last year with Jay Cutler under center (11.0 sack percentage). Maybe they were calling a different style of game with Cutler in there, or maybe Cutler tried to keep more plays alive. Regardless, I think the offense will be a bit more conservative and play action based with Mike Glennon in at quarterback. My guess is their sack percentage is closer to what they did under Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley (around 2.5%).
Now a few more nuggets from the starting lineup PFF has for the Bears.
- They list Kyle Fuller (no grade) at a starting corner with Prince Amukamara (76.6).
- Adrian Amos checks in with a Good/High Quality grade of 81.7.
- After Freeman, the next highest defensive grade goes to safety Quintin Demps (85.3).
- Leonard Floyd, who missed four games last year, graded out at a Below Average 65.1.
- Zach Miller is listed as the TE#2, and they have his grade at 81.7.
- Kendall Wright’s 74.6, is the highest grade among the three starting wide outs.
What are your thoughts on the Bears coming in with the 18th graded lineup according to PFF?