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5 Questions with Football Outsiders: Can the Bears’ defense get back to their 2018 ways?

Chicago’s defense took a step back in 2019, so how likely is it they get back to their 2018 DVOA ways this season?

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

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.

We’ve been running the Q&A each morning this week and today’s topic is all about the defense.

Windy City Gridiron - Chicago’s defense still managed a top 10 DVOA in 2019 despite seeing their sacks and turnovers drop significantly from the year prior, so how likely is it for that unit to improve in 2020?

Football Outsiders - I mean, the Bears were always going to see their turnovers drop — they managed a turnover on 19.5% of all drives in 2018, which was 2.5 percentage points better than any other team. That wasn’t remotely sustainable, and was the biggest factor behind us calling for the Bears to regress defensively last year.

The good news is that regression works both ways, and there’s every reason to believe the Bears will be more fortunate with takeaways in 2020 — these things fluctuate wildly from year to year. The Bears’ every-down strengths should be as good as ever, and regression back to the mean would imply more splash plays for the Bears. Our projections have them as the third-best defense in 2020 — so not quite back to 2018 levels, but closer to where you’d expect them to be based on raw talent alone.

You guys agree the Bears’ defense is set for a rebound year in 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.