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Data Drop: Bears analytical takeaways from Week 6

What do the numbers say about how the Bears performed in Week 6 against the Commanders?

NFL: Washington Commanders at Chicago Bears Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

You thought we were done breaking down the Bears’ loss to the Commanders? You thought wrong!

The NFL-wide advanced analytics from SIS DataHub dropped on Wednesday, and while the Bears’ data has been available for a few days, having the rest of the league’s data to go off of provides a better perspective of how Chicago performed.

Spoiler: they didn’t play well!

Each week going forward, I’m going to take to the spreadsheets and data to see how the Bears fared in the previous game. I hope that this will be as informative of an exercise for you as it likely will be for me.

Let’s see what the numbers say about how the Bears played in Week 6.

Fields takes a step back

After a solid outing against the Vikings, Justin Fields took a step back against Washington.

Fields’ completion percentage fell from 71.4% the week before to 51.9% in Week 6, his passer rating dropping from 118.8 to 71.5. The data at SIS indicates that he was one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL last week, too.

Among the 30 quarterbacks with at least 10 passing attempts, Fields ranked poorly in several key statistics:

  • 70.8% catchable throws (28th)
  • 62.5% on-target throws (T-27th)
  • 57.8 IQR (29th)
  • -0.134 points earned per play (26th)*
  • -0.248 points above average per play (26th)*
  • -13.43 EPA (28th)
  • -5.1 PAR (29th)
  • -0.2 WAR (29th)
  • 34.4% bust play percentage (worst in NFL)

Note: Statistics with asterisks do not have data available for Russell Wilson and Justin Herbert from Monday Night Football.

Part of this is surely affected by poor offensive line play in front of him. To a certain point, though, Fields needs to play better on a down-by-down basis, and his outing against the Commanders ranked among his worst performances to date.

Granted, he was extremely efficient running the ball. Among players with at least 5 carries, Fields finished second with 0.469 points earned per run and third with 0.370 points above average per run. His 12 rushes for 88 yards — especially his 39-yard run late in the fourth quarter — were especially beneficial to Chicago’s offense. Through the air, though, he had his struggles.

Major WR struggles

Of the 93 qualified wide receivers, three were Bears players: Darnell Mooney, Dante Pettis and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, the latter of whom having since been released. This is where each of these receivers ranked in terms of points earned per route:

  • Pettis: 0.093 points earned per route (17th)
  • Mooney: -0.075 points earned per route (86th)
  • Smith-Marsette: -0.148 points earned per route (91st)

And in points above average per route:

  • Pettis: 0.070 points above average per route (17th)
  • Mooney: -0.097 points above average per route (85th)
  • Smith-Marsette: -0.170 points above average per route (91st)

Pettis’ 40-yard touchdown reception went a long way towards giving him a quality outing, and he finished with 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown. However, both Mooney and Smith-Marsette were among the least efficient receivers in the NFL in Week 6.

Mooney caught 7 of his 12 targeted passes for 68 yards, but Fields averaged a passer rating of just 74.3 when targeting Mooney. Is the entirety of that Mooney’s fault? Not necessarily. Using this information and pairing it with film is the most effective way to come to conclusions, not just using the data. Smith-Marsette was targeted once and dropped his lone target, and even on the routes he ran and wasn’t targeted on, he wasn’t efficient.

The Bears cut Smith-Marsette and signed Isaiah Coulter from their practice squad, which provides a much-needed change of pace at the wide receiver position. While Coulter probably won’t be great, the bar isn’t too high for him to surpass Smith-Marsette’s play.

The best OL was...Sam Mustipher?

I tweeted earlier that Teven Jenkins has been the Bears’ best offensive lineman through Week 6, and both the analytics and the eye test check out with that assessment.

However, for as well as Jenkins seemed to play in Week 6 and his performance in most games this season, he wasn’t the Bears’ highest-graded offensive lineman against the Commanders. That honor went to Sam Mustipher.

  • Mustipher: 0.047 points earned per snap (6th among 26 centers)
  • Lucas Patrick: 0.017 points earned per snap (26th among 29 left guards)
  • Braxton Jones: -0.024 points earned per snap (27th among 28 left tackles)
  • Teven Jenkins: 0.040 points earned per snap (7th among 28 right guards)
  • Michael Schofield III: 0.043 points earned per snap (5th among right guards)*
  • Larry Borom: 0.034 points earned per snap (12th among 32 right tackles)

Note: Schofield only tallied 9 offensive snaps.

Mustipher has been a topic of discussion in the analytics community this week after ESPN gave him extremely high marks for the season. While Sports Info Solutions agrees that he’s generally been replaceable, he fared pretty well against Washington in their algorithm.

Jenkins’ high mark adds up to how well he has performed all season, and the likes of Lucas Patrick and Braxton Jones continue the struggles they’ve faced for much of the season. While Jones being a fifth-round rookie from an FCS school excuses that play to a degree, he hasn’t been great at left tackle from an NFL starting perspective. Patrick has played out of position this year but is much more experienced than Jones; it will be interesting to see whether he or Mustipher will be taken out of the starting lineup upon Cody Whitehair’s return from injury.