The 2018 NFL regular season has concluded. With that, playoff seedings have been set and for the first time since 2010, the Chicago Bears will be a participant.
On a stretch of the schedule where they needed to finish (2-2), they ended up finishing the season with a perfect (4-0) record in the final stretch of the season.
Their final quarter of the season started with an impressive home win against the Los Angeles Rams and it ended with eliminating the Minnesota Vikings on the road in Week 17. All in all, it’s been an incredible season for this team and somehow, it feels like it’s not even close to being over yet.
The up and down offensive performances continued in the final four games of the season. The one thing I’ve noticed through these last handful is games is that even if this offense wasn’t performing at a top level, they found ways to score when they truly needed it.
Because of that, I’d venture to say that even if their overall numbers continued to go down, their overall productivity and effectiveness lines up with more of an average offense than it does a bottom 10 unit.
Currently, the team’s offense ranks like this:
- 9th in points (26.3)
- 11th in rushing (121.1)
- 20th in DVOA
- 21st in yards (343.9)
- 21st in passing (222.8)
- RB Jordan Howard
- LG James Daniels
- QB Mitchell Trubisky
- WR Anthony Miller (playing time)
- TE Trey Burton
- WR Kevin White (Healthy scratches)
Since the end of the second quarter, the Bears offensive production has fallen off. Part of that is due to teams playing more zone and eliminating deep throws. The other part of that is simply it getting colder and dealing with different injuries.
Regardless, this unit (at least for me), ranked more towards the middle of the pack, versus a bottom third product. With such an elite defense, this is a unit that just needs to score enough points and more importantly, eliminate turnovers. It’s been a sizable jump from 2017, but I’d expect another big jump in 2019.
I truly can’t say enough about this unit. The defense had a few rough spots at the mid point of the season, but for the majority of this season, they have been flat out dominant. That’s even with the season-ending injury to Bryce Callahan and missing Eddie Jackson over their past two games.
Despite the massive uptick in offensive production league wide this year, this Bears’ defense matches up with every elite Super Bowl defense over the last five seasons. And that should speak to the quality of this unit overall. Plus, they have four Pro Bowlers.
- 1st in Defensive DVOA
- T-3rd in sacks (50)
- 1st in defensive touchdowns (6)
- 1st in takeaways (36)
- 3rd in turnover differential (+12)
- 1st in points (17.7)
- 3rd in yards (299.7)
- DL Akiem Hicks
- CB Kyle Fuller
- LB Roquan Smith
Three More Studs:
- OLB Khalil Mack
- DL Eddie Goldman
- CB Sherrick McManis
Simply put, this defense has no holes right now. I fully expected Callahan’s departure to hurt this unit and it hasn’t. Over the past two games, McManis has allowed just a (53.4) passer rating.
Even with Jackson out over the final two games, the defense gave up just 19 total points and only one touchdown. To put it bluntly, they have been flat out dominant, even without two of their best defensive backs.
This Bears defense was the best defensive unit in football by a wide margin.
From a performance aspect, it’s been about the same all year.
Cody Parkey has struggled to make kicks and extra points consistently. Patrick O’Donnell is either extremely impressive or very mediocre and quite frankly, there’s too many penalties for my liking.
Without truly knowing what to look for in all facets of the third phase, it’s always hard to give a deserving grade. Even so, I’ll go ahead and keep a middle of the road outlook and say they are doing just enough not to become a true issue.
The NFL playoffs.
In past reports I’ve given an outlook on what to expect in the coming four games, but we’ve reached that point in the season where it will be a game-to-game status. First on that docket will be the Philadelphia Eagles. Luckily for the Bears, they’ll be at Soldier Field where they finished the regular season at (7-1). Conversely, the Eagles finished (4-4) on the road, and while they may be “hot” heading into the playoffs, it still took some help to get them into the playoffs.
We’ll save our full season grades until after the Bears’ year truly concludes, but so far, I’m not sure too many people in general saw this as a (12-4) team. Last installment, I wrote about how a (2-2) finish was needed, but (3-1) would be the most ideal. Yet, this team finished their last quarter of the season with a (4-0) record.
In total, this was a very impressive four-game stretch and one that should absolutely catapult them into the post-season on a high note.
Fourth Quarter Grade: A