The Chicago Bears had a tough go of it last year, but it wasn’t all doom and gloom. There were a few individual bright spots, like Jordan Howard, Cameron Meredith, Akiem Hicks, Cody Whitehair, and Leonard Floyd to name a few.
From a team standpoint, it’s a bit tougher to find something that they could look back on with pride, and hope to build on in 2017, but ESPN (via Football Outsiders' extensive statistical databases) recently took a peek at two such things.
They went through all 32 teams in the NFL and found one thing on offense, and one on defense, that was a “sneaky” strength each team.
For the Bears’ offense, they were impressed with the pass protection, saying “the Chicago offensive line doesn't get as much press as their counterparts in Dallas or Oakland, but it had a great season in 2016. The Bears ranked sixth in the pressure rate allowed and seventh in the adjusted sack rate allowed.”
They specifically mention the o-line, but pass protection is a team effort. I would expect the pass pro to be even better in 2017. With new tight end Dion Sims, a more experienced Jordan Howard, and some new professional wide outs to throw to, their sacks allowed could be even lower.
Over on defense, they dug up this impressive nugget. “Chicago's defense was sixth in forcing three-and-outs (25.8 percent of drives) despite ranking just 22nd in defensive DVOA.”
Big plays on first and second downs hurt Chicago’s overall DVOA, but the new additions to the secondary, the return of Eddie Goldman, and the emergence of Leonard Floyd, will go a long way towards bettering that 6th ranking.
What are your thoughts on these two team stats?