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Data Drop: Bears analytical takeaways from Week 7

What do the numbers say about how the Bears performed in Week 7 against the Patriots?

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Bears put together their best performance of the 2022 season with a dominant outing against the Patriots on Monday night.

In all three phases, Chicago was truly the better team. The offense scored its highest total of points over the last two seasons, while the defense forced 4 turnovers and helped their team dominate the time of possession battle.

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 7.

First, a quick tidbit on Justin Fields:

Fields didn’t fare incredibly well in his passing analytics. He had the lowest catchable pass percentage at 70%, and he was 23rd in points earned per play and 22nd in points above average per play among 28 qualified quarterbacks. However, his rushing performance was fantastic, and the eye test indicates some very encouraging flashes as a passer.

Braxton Jones’ coming out party

Braxton Jones’ rise from a fifth-round FCS rookie to a starting left tackle in the NFL has truly been impressive. His journey has certainly come with its rough patches, but Week 7 was easily the best performance of his rookie year.

In addition to being PFF’s fourth-ranked left tackle in the league last week, Jones was extremely efficient in the following categories, while having no blown blocks in the process:

  • 0.058 points earned per snap (1st for LTs, 4th for OL)
  • 0.031 points above average per snap (1st for LTs, 2nd for OL)
  • 2.4 points above replacement (1st for LTs, 2nd for OL)
  • 0.1 wins above replacement (1st for LTs, 2nd for OL, one of just 10 OL with a WAR over 0.0)

*Among 29 qualified left tackles and 140 qualified offensive linemen

Jones was the Bears’ best offensive lineman from an analytics perspective, but he wasn’t the only offensive lineman to grade well. Here’s how the rest of the unit performed:

  • LG Michael Schofield III: T-1st for LGs in PE/snap, T-2nd for LGs in PAA/snap
  • C Sam Mustipher: 5th for Cs in PE/snap, 5th for Cs in PAA/snap
  • RG Teven Jenkins: 14th for RGs in PE/snap, T-13th for RGs in PAA/snap
  • RT: Larry Borom: 24th for RTs in PE/snap, 23rd for RTs in PAA/snap

Kudos goes to the Bears’ entire interior offensive line for their performance. They did a good job of clearing running lanes and generating pass protection. I honestly thought Jenkins would score higher given what I saw on tape, and it’s worth noting he was the team’s highest-graded offensive lineman from PFF.

Borom had his struggles in pass protection — particularly against Matt Judon — but the Bears’ offensive line as a whole performed well on Monday. Similar performances would be massive as Chicago finds themselves right in the thick of the wild card race.

Chicago’s rookie DBs dominate

Both Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker had the first interceptions of their respective NFL careers, but their impact on Monday’s game went beyond just that.

Gordon had the best game of his career thus far, finishing second among cornerbacks with 0.200 points saved per play and third with 0.155 points above average per play. New England had a passer rating of just 43.8 against him, and he allowed just 18 yards on the three completions he allowed on four targets. He also placed ninth among NFL cornerbacks with -0.80 EPA allowed per target.

Brisker also excelled on Monday, as he placed fifth among safeties with 0.174 points saved per play and sixth at his position with 0.129 points above average per play. Targeted four times, the Penn State alumnus allowed just one completion for 12 yards. He also placed second among all defenders with an EPA allowed per target of -2.16. He was reliable against the run, too, tallying 7 tackles and finishing above league average in run defense analytics.

Pass rush struggles

The Bears’ defense was particularly reliable against the Patriots, but they did struggle with rushing the passer.

Trevis Gipson, Angelo Blackson and Robert Quinn — the latter of whom having since been traded to the Eagles — all placed outside of the top 100 among pass-rushers in points earned per rush and points above average. Dominique Robinson did not generate any pressures in his 12 pass rushes, and although Justin Jones had one pressure on 23 pass rushes, he graded as the most efficient defensive lineman against the pass.

However, the Bears’ interior defensive line did fare well against the run on Monday. Armon Watts placed third among defensive tackles in terms of points saved per play, and Mike Pennel Jr. placed seventh. There was one player on Chicago’s defense that dominated in all aspects, though, and that was...

Roquan Smith excels in all aspects

I started showing some concern with Roquan Smith’s slow start to the season. That concern is no longer.

Smith was the Bears’ best defender on Monday night, leading the team with 12 tackles, notching the team’s only sack, and picking off Bailey Zappe. The advanced analytics back up the stat sheet in showing just how much of an impact the linebacker made in Foxborough.

Here is how Smith finished in key run-stopping, pass defending and pass-rushing statistics:

  • 0.098 points saved per run play (8th for off-ball LBs)
  • 0.056 points above average per run play (9th for LBs)
  • 0.470 points saved per pass rush (1st for LBs)
  • 0.430 points above average per pass rush (1st for LBs)
  • 0.283 points saved per coverage play (1st for LBs)
  • 0.238 points above average per coverage play (1st for LBs)

Not too shabby, if you ask me.