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Data Drop: Bears analytical takeaways from Week 13

What do the numbers say about how the Bears performed in Week 13 against the Packers?

Green Bay Packers v Chicago Bears Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Things were looking up for the Bears through the first three quarters of their matchup against the Packers last Sunday, but a late-game collapse saw them lose their sixth straight game of the 2022 season.

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 13.

Encouraging signs from Fields, but late-game INTs hurt data

A stat line that includes 0 passing touchdowns and 2 interceptions might not seem like a good performance without context, but luckily for Justin Fields, the context is quite favorable for him.

Here’s where Fields ranked among the 30 starting quarterbacks to play in Week 13:

  • 0.242 points earned per passing play (9th)
  • 0.086 points above average per passing play (13th)
  • -1.95 EPA per pass (15th)
  • 48.0% positive pass plays (7th)
  • 32.0% “boom” pass plays (2nd)
  • 16.0% “bust pass plays (12th-lowest of 30)
  • 71.6 IQR (24th)
  • 88% catchable throws (15th)
  • 68.0% on target (26th)

Fields placing near the bottom in terms of passing attempts does inflate some of these statistics and percentages a bit, but there seems to be a general inconsistency in terms of his performance as a passer from an analytical perspective. I personally feel as though he had a good outing based on the eye test: not elite, but not bad. His interceptions undoubtedly affect his performance from a data perspective, though one came in garbage time and another came because of a slow break out of a route by Equanimeous St. Brown.

It helps that Fields offers plenty of value as a runner, too. Here’s how he fared among all 58 ball-carriers who had at least 5 carries in Week 13:

  • 0.777 points earned per run (1st)
  • 0.703 points above average per run (1st)
  • 4.3 PAR (2nd)
  • 11.2 yards after contact per run (1st)
  • 11.8 yards per carry (1st)

Major variance between passing weapons

Speaking of the aforementioned St. Brown, he was one of the most efficient targets in the NFL last week. Whether these numbers consider his role in Fields’ first interception is unknown, but St. Brown placed 4th among wide receivers with 0.161 points earned per route and 5th with 0.130 points above average per route. He caught 3 passes for 85 yards on 4 targets, gaining 24 and 56 yards on two of those receptions. Finishing just 112th in total EPA figures that the interception did play into affect to some extent, though.

Cole Kmet was also one of the most efficient pass-catchers in the league in Week 13, regardless of position. He placed second among tight ends and 14th in total with 0.145 points earned per route, as well as second and 15th in those respective criteria with 0.114 points above average per route. Kmet’s 6.41 total EPA led all tight ends and finished 7th league-wide. With 6 receptions for 72 yards, he certainly had one of his best outings to date against the Packers.

That was it in terms of high-level producers through the air, though. None of the other three eligible receiving targets — David Montgomery, Dante Pettis and Chase Claypool — made it into even the top 120 of any of the aforementioned categories. Though Claypool caught 5 of his 6 targets, he only gained 28 yards, thus making his touches quite inefficient compared to the league average for a wide receiver. The good was good for the Bears through the air, but the bad was indeed quite bad.

Where’s the edge?

The 2023 NFL Draft debate that’s in the minds of many Bears fans is whether Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter or Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson should be the selection if both prospects are on the board when Chicago picks. Both seem like reasonable targets, and while the 3-technique defensive tackle need has been talked about quite a bit, the team is also very weak off the edge, and that was apparent in how they played against Green Bay last Sunday.

Al-Quadin Muhammad had 2 pressures on 18 pass-rushing snaps, but he was the only edge rusher on the team to even tally a single pressure, let alone a hit or a sack. The Bears rotated in the likes of Trevis Gipson, Dominique Robinson and Taco Charlton at the defensive end position, but none of them were able to pressure Aaron Rodgers once. Outside of Muhammad, who placed 94th, no Bears edge rusher placed in the top 100 among defensive ends and linebackers in points saved per rush.

There was one play in which it could be argued that Charlton generated pressure on Rodgers in space, but it appears that neither ESPN nor SIS DataHub counted it as a pressure or a quarterback hit. Regardless, the Bears need a serious infusion of talent at the defensive end position this offseason.