New defensive coordinator Sean Desai is doing some really great things with his defense, including scheming up free rushers to get to the quarterback. That has unlocked this defense, brimming with talent, in a way that Bears fans haven’t seen in awhile. I went back and took a look at the history of the Chicago Bears defense with the sack statistic. Below you’ll find a combo chart and I want to clue you in to how to read it.
The blue bars correspond to the left axis and represent the number of team sacks the Chicago Bears recorded for that particular season. You’ll no doubt note that the red bars off to the right represent 2021 actual (through 6 games) and “2021 Pace,” which is simply the same numbers divided by 6 and multiplied by 17. The gray line represents the league average of sacks for that given year. The orange dot corresponds to the right hand axis and represents the team leader(s) in sacks for that given season.
If you see white space between the blue bar and the gray line, the Bears were below average that season. If you see blue above the gray line, the Bears were above average. Obviously, the glory days of the 1984-1987 defenses stick out like giant skyscrapers. If you’re curious about who those orange dots correspond to, I’ve labeled all players that led the team in sacks for at least three seasons below.
You’ll note that each minor gridline corresponds to a half sack for the individual player if that helps in reading the chart. Given the scales used in the chart, the individual axis is 25% of the total. So, if a player’s circle is at the top of the bar, like it is for Khalil Mack in 2018, he had exactly 25% of the team sacks.
I’m not sure if that holds any significance beyond, “that’s kinda cool” but maybe an orange dot well above the blue bar shows a particularly impressive season. If the orange dot is buried deep in the blue bar, it might indicate the team had a more balanced pass rush. Or, honestly, it might not mean anything significant.
Back to 2021: if Sean Desai’s crew can keep up this pace, the current squad has a chance to put up a new skyscraper. Maybe it won’t reach the heights of those 80s teams but they can still tower over everything from the 90s, 00s, and 10s.
Do you think the Bears defense will exceed 50 sacks this year? 60? Hit up the comments below or find me on Twitter @gridironborn.