Let me start off by saying I expected different results before I started this exercise. After some conversations over the last few years, it seemed as though the Bears were just not a good third quarter team, meaning that they largely were getting out-coached on halftime adjustments. So, why not break out scoring by quarter and show it cumulatively over time. Here’s what that looks like.
The blue line is the first quarter, the second best quarter in the Nagy era at +22 points overall. The first quarter is usually a good measure of how good your initial script and game plan works against the other team. The second quarter is by far the best quarter in the Nagy era at +80, indicated by the green line, largely helped by the run in 2018. I have always considered the second quarter to be a good measure of overall talent and how teams manage the clock at the end of the half.
The third quarter is normally somewhat associated with halftime adjustments and here is where I thought we’d see a big negative. Instead, the 3rd quarter currently sits at +4, essentially even, helped by late 2019 games and slowly eroding since. The fourth quarter, the red line, is by far the worst in the Nagy era at -61. Looking at the fourth quarter this way is a little more dangerous than the rest because it can be heavily influenced by game flow. Nursing a big lead late will lead to a negative differential. Playing from behind constantly may lead to a positive differential. If the trend is moving in the opposite direction of the other three lines, it’s probably just a game flow issue. If it’s moving down when the other lines are mostly neutral, like in 2021, that’s not so great.
Overall, I think we can file this chart under “that’s interesting” but we can’t draw definitive answers from it. All games have their own context associated with them and a 30,000 foot view can sometimes help, sometimes not. I don’t think we can draw any big conclusions from this look today beyond the 3rd quarter hasn’t been as bad as I assumed going into it, but is on an overall downward trend since the start of 2020.
Find me on Twitter @gridironborn to keep the conversation going.