If you’re a fan of Justin Fields and like the Bears but want to prioritize draft positioning this year over them actually winning games this year, you were probably pleased with their loss to the Lions last Sunday.
Granted, it feels like the same sentiment could be applied about every one of their games over the last three weeks. It was another explosive offensive performance — especially on the ground — but Chicago’s defensive struggles kept the Lions in the game. Throw in an untimely pick-6 thrown by Fields to former Ohio State teammate Jeff Okudah, and it wasn’t enough for the Bears to secure the victory.
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 10.
Fields with a decent passing game held back by INT
Justin Fields’ performance on the ground last week was tremendous, and we’ll get to some of the specifics shortly. That said, how did he perform through the air?
Here’s where Fields ranked among the 28 starting quarterbacks in key passing analytics in Week 10:
- 0.174 points earned per play (15th)
- 0.033 points above average per play (15th)
- -5.63 EPA (21st)
- 2.4 PAR (18th)
- 99.4 passer rating (11th)
- 110.2 IQR (10th)
All told, Fields had a perfectly fine game through the air on Sunday. The EPA in particular was no doubt affected in a major way by the Lions scoring a touchdown off of his interception, but even with the interception, he was pretty league average in terms of efficiency.
Efficiency gap in the run game
Of the 59 players with who had at least 5 carries, here’s where Fields, Khalil Herbert and David Montgomery placed in key statistics:
- Points earned per run: Fields - 0.269 (6th), Herbert - 0.131 (15th), Montgomery - -0.044 (39th)
- Points above average per run: Fields - 0.210 (6th), Herbert - 0.094 (15th), Montgomery - -0.080 (40th)
- Total EPA: Fields - 8.43 (1st), Herbert - 0.09 (19th), Montgomery - -0.41 (30th)
- Total PAR: Fields - 2.8 (6th), Herbert - 1.2 (15th), Montgomery - -0.5 (35th)
- Broken and missed tackles per attempt: Herbert - 30% (4th), Fields - 23.1% (T-11th), Montgomery - 22.2% (13th)
- Yards per attempt: Fields - 11.3 (2nd), Herbert - 5.7 (T-11th), Montgomery - 4.1 (T-30th)
In most advanced statistics — with broken and missed tackles being an exception — Montgomery was a below-average runner and the least efficient ball-carrier on the Bears by a wide margin.
This doesn’t bode incredibly well for Chicago’s ground game going forward, seeing as though Herbert is now on the injured reserve. He had slowly started eating into Montgomery’s touches in the run game over the last few weeks, and among the 53 players with at least 60 carries this year, Herbert is tied for the best yards per carry average with an average of 6.0 yards on 108 carries.
That said, Fields’ presence on the ground indicates the Bears will continue to have an efficient rushing attack. Having Montgomery on the field more could be good news for their passing attack, as he has proven to be a better pass-catcher and pass protector than Herbert.
Brisker shines, but Bears CBs struggle in coverage
From an efficiency perspective, Jaquan Brisker was one of the top performing safeties in the NFL on Week 10.
The Penn State alumnus allowed 2 catches on 3 targets for 12 yards in coverage. He had 0.211 points saved per play, which ranked third among all safeties, and he also placed third at his position with 0.175 points above average per play. In both statistical categories, he was 16th in the league among all defenders who had been targeted at least once in coverage.
Chicago also got above-average play in coverage from linebackers Joe Thomas and Nicholas Morrow, but their cornerbacks struggled significantly against Detroit’s group of weapons. In terms of points saved per play, the Bears had Kyler Gordon place 50th among 90 cornerbacks, Jaylon Jones finish 70th and Jaylon Johnson end up in 74th. In terms of points above average per play, the cornerbacks finished 53rd, 71st and 76th, respectively. Both Jaylons placed in the lower one-third of cornerbacks in PAR and WAR, as well.
Johnson especially had his struggles, as he allowed 3 catches on 5 targets for 72 yards. His issues in coverage played a sizable role in Amon-Ra St. Brown ending up with 119 receiving yards on the afternoon.