For the last several years, SB Nation has partnered up with Football Outsiders to bring us some of their unique, analytical insight into each upcoming NFL season.
This year is no different as we had FO’s Bryan Knowles, who has been covering the NFL since 2006, answer five questions about the Chicago Bears.
After touching on some pass protection and pocket awareness stuff yesterday, today we’re diving more into the offensive line and the running game.
Windy City Gridiron - Is keeping Cody Whitehair at center and James Daniels at left guard, plus plugging in Germain Ifedi enough to improve the offensive line, or more specifically fix the run game and David Montgomery’s atrocious DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) of -46?
Football Outsiders - We do have Montgomery somewhat rebounding as a sophomore; we project his DVOA going from -13.0% last season to -6.4% — still below average, just not quite as painful as he was in 2019.
We’re cautiously optimistic on Ifedi moving inside; he’s never been anything of note in pass protection, but he’s a solid run blocker. And yes, Whitehair and Daniels belong at center and left guard, respectfully; it was a head-scratching move last offseason to swap them, and the results definitely didn’t pay off on the field. I think there will be improvement on the offensive line, though I’m not fully convinced it will be enough to fully fix the run game. The big problem with Montgomery, however, wasn’t the blocking — it was his lack of speed and explosiveness. He broke 45 tackles on runs, sixth-most in the league, but turned that into just 1.92 yards after contact, third-worst.
What do you guys think about their assessment of the Bears run game for 2020?
You can find even more great stuff about the 2020 NFL and college football seasons from Football Outsiders in their yearly Almanac available at their store here or at Amazon here.
The most authoritative and innovative annual guide to both the NFL and college football is back for an all-new season with more cutting-edge statistical analysis, obsessive film study, and trademark humor. Includes comprehensive coverage of all 32 NFL teams, analysis of offseason personnel changes, KUBIAK fantasy football projections with over 500 player profiles, and breakdowns of the top 50 college football teams for 2020. With numerous statistical measures that go far beyond standard NFL stats, Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 gives NFL fans the kind of sabermetric-like statistical analysis that revolutionized the fan’s understanding of baseball. It’s also written with a knowing dry wit that gets under the skin of America’s most popular spectator sport.