I consider myself to be more of a tape guy when it comes to my football analysis.
After all, I’ve had to watch hundreds of players each year for every upcoming NFL Draft class, so it’s not like I’ve had much of a choice in the matter. While I’ve spent much more time in the film room than crunching numbers, I’ve recently taken up an affinity for advanced analytics and the information they can provide for NFL teams.
Sometimes, traditional statistics like passing yards, completion percentage, tackles and sacks can be misleading. They can fail to account for a lot of contextual clues and can occasionally provide an inaccurate view of how well a player actually plays. That’s where more advanced analytics come in; it’s a tool to provide context that likely reflects what appears on tape.
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 4.
Every statistic I cite comes from Sports Info Solutions. It’s a fantastic tool that I can’t recommend enough. Even though it’s subscription-based, I truly believe it’s worth the money.
These analytics are not meant to be the end-all, be-all to determining which players are good and which ones aren’t. Rather, they merely serve as additional context to what watching the games provides. I hope that sharing this information with you all can open your eyes to things that you may not have noticed before.
For specific explanations for these statistics, check out SIS’ glossary.
Fields was better than the box score indicates
A completion percentage of 50% with 174 passing yards and no touchdowns doesn’t seem like the best quarterback performance in the world, nor is it. That said, Fields was more efficient than those numbers would indicate.
Among the 34 quarterbacks with at least 13 passing attempts in Week 4, here’s where Fields ranks:
- 5.4 points above replacement (9th)
- 0.233 points earned per play (10th)
- 0.102 points above average per play (10th)
- 108.8 IQR (12th)
It’s worth noting that all of these statistics account for outside factors, using EPA responsibility methods to value for things like offensive line play, drops, sacks, inaccurate passes and dropped interceptions.
As I’ll dig into in the next bit, Fields was clearly affected by a subpar offensive line performance. Was it a perfect performance from the quarterback? Not at all. It’s also worth noting that Fields’ 56-yard completion to Darnell Mooney probably weighted those statistics a bit.
However, these analytics tend to lead to what watching the tape might indicate: given the surroundings that Fields had to deal with, he wasn’t terrible against the Giants.
Teven Jenkins was easily their best OL
Purely from a data perspective, Jenkins was the most efficient offensive lineman in the NFL in Week 4.
The #Bears struggled along their offensive line in Week 4, but RG Teven Jenkins was insanely efficient.— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) October 5, 2022
• 0.086 points earned/snap (1st for all NFL OL)
• 0.057 points above average/snap (1st)
• 2.9 PAR (1st)
• 0 pressures allowed, 0 penalties
He didn’t have a full-time starting role, nor has he in any of these last few games. That said, he has been a reliable offensive lineman for the Bears since making the switch to right guard.
While Jenkins was a reliable starter for Chicago against New York, the same certainly could not be said for the rest of the Bears’ offensive line. These are rankings purely from a points earned per snap perspective:
- Sam Mustipher: worst among 30 centers
- Lucas Patrick: worst among 33 left guards
- Cody Whitehair: 23rd among 33 left guards
- Larry Borom: 20th among 34 right tackles
- Braxton Jones: 23rd among 30 left tackles
For points above average per snap:
- Mustipher: worst among centers
- Patrick: worst among left guards
- Whitehair: 25th among left guards
- Borom: 24th among right tackles
- Jones: 24th among left tackles
With Chicago as a unit allowing 6 sacks and 9 quarterback hits, it’s no surprise that their offensive line graded poorly. Mustipher continues a brutal stretch to start out the year, and after a solid first two games, Patrick has been a liability over the last two weeks. Whitehair’s injury makes it likely Jenkins will stay in a full-time starting role at right guard, but considering he’s been their best offensive lineman this season, it’s baffling he wasn’t in one earlier to begin with.
Bears had some solid run defenders
Saquon Barkley ended up rushing for 146 yards on 31 carries, giving him a respectable 4.7 yards per carry. Though the Bears had struggles against him on some runs, the team wasn’t terrible against the run as a whole.
Justin Jones and Mike Pennel Jr. were both in the top 4 among defensive tackles in points saved per play against the run. Jones also placed second at his position in points above average per play, while Pennel placed fourth. Roquan Smith, who had 10 total tackles, placed 15th among all linebackers in both statistics, including edge rushers and off-ball defenders. He was one of the most efficient run defenders among those who placed in the top 100 in rushing snaps.
Al-Quadin Muhammad had struggled against the run to start the year, but he found his footing as a top-10 edge rusher in both points saved per pay and points above average per play. Even Eddie Jackson, whose issues stopping the run have ben documented over the years, was 12th and 11th among safeties in the aforementioned stats, respectively.
There was inconsistency among the bunch; the likes of Robert Quinn, Nicholas Morrow, Jaquan Brisker, Joe Thomas and Kyler Gordon were all inefficient against the run. However, the data can point towards two things in particular that have been made apparent in recent weeks:
- Roquan Smith is back after a slow start
- Justin Jones has been a very good value signing for Ryan Poles
Very little pass rush
While the Giants did a great job of generating pressure against the passing game, the Bears weren’t so lucky.
The Bears as a team had just one sack and two quarterback hits, with the lone sack and one of the hits coming in one play from safety Jaquan Brisker. Robert Quinn was the other player to generate a hit on a Giants quarterback, and that hit was actually the only other time Daniel Jones or Tyrod Taylor was pressured all game.
Brisker placed 18th league-wide with 0.155 points saved per rush, but he only rushed the passer three times. Armon Watts and Trevis Gipson both finished with negative scores in that category. Al-Quadin Muhammad and Dominique Robinson were the only two regular pass-rushers to top exactly 0 points above average, barely beating the mark with 0.02 and 0.01, respectively.
The Bears sold pretty hard on the run, which allowed Jones to beat them with bootlegs and allowed Brian Daboll to stretch the field horizontally against them. This misdirection up front made it tougher for Chicago to generate pressure, but even when they had a straight path to the quarterback, things didn’t necessarily work all that well.