You know the drill by now. Justin Fields broke the single-game rushing record for a quarterback, the Bears excelled offensively, but they fell just short to the Dolphins in a shootout.
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 9.
Justin Fields is him
It doesn’t take a mathematician to know that Justin Fields was great at running the ball against Miami on Sunday.
Still, if you’re looking for an advanced look at how efficient he was on the ground, Fields was the leader in essentially every major value statistic available on SIS DataHub:
- 0.711 Points Earned per run (1st)
- 0.645 Points Above Average per run (1st)
- 16.67 EPA (1st)
- 9.9 PAR (1st)
- 89 yards after contact (1st)
Fields was also above average as a passer, and while his passing analytics haven’t been as eye-opening as his stats as a runner, he has been improving consistently over the last few weeks and has separated himself from the rough grades he had earlier in the season. Here’s how he fared through the air out of the 27 qualified quarterbacks:
- 0.127 Points Earned per pass (13th)
- 0.015 Points Above Average per pass (11th)
- 2.8 PAR (T-11th)
- 73.1% on target percentage (T-11th)
There’s no denying the value that Fields brings to the Bears’ offense with his legs, but it’s his development as a passer that is especially encouraging when looking at his long-term prospects. Chicago certainly has to be pleased with what they’ve seen from their offense in recent weeks.
Interior OL shines
The Bears have been pretty inconsistent from an efficiency perspective along their offensive line, but their outing against the Dolphins was one of their better performances of the year.
Fields was only sacked twice — which is tied for being the lowest amount of sacks he’s taken in a game this year — and those two sacks were the only two hits he faced. Among the 133 offensive linemen to tally more than 30 offensive snaps in Week 9, the Bears had four players in the top 55 in every major efficiency statistic, as well as three in the top 45 and two in the top 25.
Teven Jenkins was the most efficient offensive lineman on the Bears on Sunday, which adds up with his finishing as the best lineman on the team in PFF grades. Here’s how he performed against Miami:
- 0.053 Points Earned per snap (14th overall, T-9th among guards)
- 0.027 Points Above Average per snap (T-6th overall, T-4th among guards)
- 0 blown blocks, 0 penalties
- 2 pressures on 43 pass snaps
Sam Mustipher also placed fourth and fifth among centers in the “per snap” statistics, respectively. For someone who has received plenty of criticism over the course of the season, he has graded particularly well over the last few weeks. Both Cody Whitehair and Riley Reiff finished above average at their respective positions, with Braxton Jones being the only Bears lineman to finish with below-average statistics.
This defense is pretty bad
On a positive note: Kyler Gordon was second among cornerbacks against the run with 0.166 Points Saved per play and 0.132 Points Above Average per play. Justin Jones also placed third among interior defensive linemen in both of those statistics against the run.
That’s the good news out of the way first, because the rest of the analytics show the Bears struggled significantly on defense on Sunday.
Stopping the run, the Bears had just two tackles for a loss against 23 carries. Tua Tagovailoa threw 30 passes and was hit three times, not being sacked once. Justin Jones had two hurries and three pressures, but the rest of the group didn’t make a massive impact rushing the passer. Al-Quadin Muhammad was in the bottom 10 in terms of efficiency among 200 qualified pass-rushers, and Angelo Blackson also operated at a deficit in terms of Points Earned and Points Above Average per snap. In fact, the only two defenders with positive grades in pass-rushing efficiency statistics were Mike Pennel and Jaquan Brisker, who rushed the passer just 8 and 3 times, respectively.
To make matters worse, here’s a look at how the Bears’ secondary performed among the 200 qualified defenders in terms of Points Saved per play in coverage:
- Kyler Gordon: 0.015 (123rd)
- Eddie Jackson: -0.017 (148th)
- Jaylon Johnson: -0.070 (169th)
- Jaquan Brisker: -0.074 (172nd)
Considering the Dolphins’ dynamic duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, it makes plenty of sense that the Bears struggled in pass coverage; quite frankly, a lot of teams have against that tandem. Chicago essentially hit the reset button on their front seven by trading Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith before the trade deadline, so considering their lack of defensive investment up front, don’t be surprised if they tend to struggle generating pressure the rest of the year.