Data Entry: Self-Scouting Chicago’s Offense

| November 6th, 2017

With the extra time over the bye, this is a good chance to take more of a big-picture look at how the Bears have done so far this year. Thus I’m going to be looking in-depth at both their offense and defense to see what lessons we can learn and areas for improvement in the second half.

Today we’re looking at the offense.

Chicago’s offense has generally been bad so far in 2017. They’re 29th out of 32 NFL teams in yards per game, 31st in passing yards per game, and 28th in points per game. The one area where they are not bad is running the ball, where they are 4th in yards per game and 8th in yards per attempt.

These basic stats are easy to look up, but there’s a lot of information that they don’t tell you. In order to break it down a little bit further, I used the NFL Game Statistics Information System to look at Chicago’s offensive stats in a bit more detail. I broke down rushing and passing attempts by areas of the field to see where they target the most and how successful they are. Let’s have a look.

Rushing Attack

Here’s the data for Chicago’s rushing attack in 2017. The line at the bottom is the line of scrimmage, runs are split into 7 zones, and attempts and yards per carry are listed for each zone, with ranks relative to the rest of the NFL in parentheses (all ranks through week 8 only). The height of the bar is proportional to yards per carry, and bars are colored green for top 10, red for bottom 10, and yellow for middle 12. Note expected yards per carry varies by region, so the colors are relative to their peers in that region.

Here we see a lot of green, which is good. Despite defenses loading up to stop them, Chicago’s rushing attack has still managed to mostly be pretty effective. Here’s a few more detailed thoughts (feel free to add yours in the comments below):

  • As was the case in 2016, the Bears really don’t like running up the middle. They continued their 2016 trend of ranking last in attempts there, despite being among the best in efficiency (albeit with a very small sample size). Maybe they might want to consider trying that more.
  • In 2016, they struggled running behind the guards on both sides of the field, and I speculated that was because both Kyle Long and Josh Sitton spent a good portion of the season hurt. It certainly appears that was the case, as the Bears have excelled running behind guard on both sides so far this year.
  • The left/right split is a bit alarming when we look at outside runs (off tackle or end). The Bears have done a great job to the left (continuing 2016 trends) but have been horrible to the right, which was not the case in 2016. The biggest difference are the runs off right end, which the Bears try a lot with very poor success. I don’t know if this is schematic, a result of changeover in wide receivers, or what, but Chicago either needs to stop running outside to the right or figure out how to do it more effectively.
  • Chicago seems to have figured this out a bit, as they have more runs to the left (134) than the right (91). That’s a good job of self-scouting, but they need to be careful their rushing attack doesn’t get too lopsided.

Passing Attack

Here’s the data for Chicago’s passing attack so far this year. Warning: it is not for the faint of heart. The number of plays, completion percentage, and yards per attempt are given for 6 zones. Each zone is colored according to the average of the yards per attempt and completion percentage (green = top 10, red = bottom 10, yellow = middle 12). 

Well that’s a whole lot of red, which is not really surprising considering the Bears rank in the bottom 5 in the NFL in both completion percentage and yards per attempt. Still, here’s a few more detailed thoughts; please feel free to add yours in the comments section below.

  • The balance is pretty good overall. They’ve thrown 74 passes to the left, 61 to the middle, and 86 to the right. I’m curious how those ratios might change for Mike Glennon vs. Mitchell Trubisky (who seems to prefer the right side), but unfortunately do not have that breakdown.
  • The Bears have been surprisingly effective to the middle of the field, and actually target those areas fairly frequently (relative to the rest of the NFL). The green box in the deep middle probably doesn’t mean much due to the small sample size, but their effectiveness in the short middle area is also better than to either side. I’ll be curious to see if that continues going forward.
  • I really don’t have much here outside of that. Their passing game has been awful due to a combination of bad play calling, bad WR play, and bad QB play.

Overall Takeaways

The overall conclusions here aren’t that surprising: the rushing attack is good and the passing attack is bad. Anybody who’s watched even a quarter of Bears football this year could have told you the same thing. The two main lessons I took out of this and will be watching for in the 2nd half of the season are the right vs. left splits (and attempts) on the ground and the Bears’ ability to work the middle of the field through the air.

What are your thoughts?

Tagged: , , ,

  • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

    Run First…. second, third, fourth,…….fortieth….

  • SC Dave

    My opinion is that WR play has also hurt the outside running game. The best two blockers were Meredith and Bellamy, and neither sees the field much.

    I’m not sure about Wright, so I will keep a better eye on him.

  • leftcoastdave

    Did anybody see the Hawkeyes blow out the Buckeyes? I hope it is analogous.

    Iowa has always been a smash mouth pound the ball team under Kirk Ferentz. He has a Sophomore QB in Nate Stanley and a bye week before Saturday’s game. Saturday Ferentz’s son (who is the OC and worked for the Pats) dialed up 32 throws and the O put up 244 yards passing, 243 rushing to pound sixth ranked Ohio State 55-24.

    DaBears have been playing it close to the vest with rookie MT and a decimated receiver corp and sundry injuries to the O line. Now they have had two weeks to heal and scheme up.

    You’ve gotta believe that with Ingram in and Miller out we will be seeing much more happening out of the O by way of an aerial attack.

    • Cockney Kirk

      One can hope.

      And Buck the Fuckeyes

    • BerwynBomber

      Also the Cheese’s pass D has been the weakest part of their team the past couple of years.

      For all the playcalling whiners, we should remember that Bisky faced MIN, BAL and CAR his first three games. Not exactly soft Ds.

      Iowa also picked off OSU’s Heisman candidate four times. Specifically, an Iowa CB had three of them and, barring major injury, probably made an NFL roster because of his performance.

      And they were impressive, contested picks. Not lucky bounces/tip drill beneficiary stuff.

      • AlbertInTucson

        This is me, not shedding tears for Ohio State.

    • CanadaBear

      When I was a kid I saw the Hawks almost beat OSU in IC. OSU was lucky to sneak out with a W. Ray Nagle ran across the field to shake Woody’s hand and that old asshole waved him off. I’ve hated OSU and Woody ever since. My dad hated Woody 10X’s more than me. He almost lost his mind when Woody went after that kid in the bowl game. He was screaming “That’s it for that son of a bitch” and other pithy remarks. Last Saturday really made me smile. Didn’t see the game.

      • SC Dave

        They can still beat Penn State as far as I’m concerned.

  • BerwynBomber

    Howard’s a beast heading toward his second PB in as many years and Bisky should improve. I like Bisky’s toolset. There are a couple of concerns with him long-term but those aren’t worth fretting over now or maybe even next year.

    As everyone knows our WRs stink. Inman will be a sight for sore eyes against the Cheese. He looked a bit Meredith-like in his highlights: silky smooth routes, decent hands. My bet is Pace goes after a WR in FA and in the first few rounds in the draft as well as a flier in R6 or 7.

    Beyond the development of Bisky, the remainder of this season can be used to see if we have a #1 at TE. Basically, can Sims or Shaheen step up. I like Brown as a depth guy.

    • Cockney Kirk

      Shaheen and Sims Have both disappointed the coaches badly so let’s hope they can get it together

      • leftcoastdave

        I do not think it accurate to say that Shaheen has disappointed the coaches. It takes time to grow into the TE position in the NFL, especially if you have never had to deal with the monsters Shaheen is now blocking. That is what he has been doing, learning his blocking assignments and developing those skills while the proven target, the best target on the team Zack Miller was getting the targets.

        Now things must change and we will see how that develops. But “disappointed?” I do not think that is a fair assessment.

        • CanadaBear

          Good points but they have to be disappointed that AS has only one catch at the halfway mark.

          • leftcoastdave

            1 reception out of two targets for a TD. So true he needs to “adjust” to the competition and now should be seeing many more routes to run.

          • SC Dave

            Certainly could have been 2 for 2 on the TDs, except Mitch threw the second target 7 feet over his head.

        • Cockney Kirk

          Hub and Fishbain were on the air after the game and all but said the kid may as not well be on the field. That he was letting DBs that he outsized and outweighed by 50 pounds push him around. That he wasn’t releasing into his assignments properly.

          When asked specifically about Shaheen’s play, Fox just did his usual song and dance. So no, the coaches didn’t publically badmouth him but go back and watch the All-22 on Shaheen: he was awful

        • AlbertInTucson

          “It takes time to grow into the TE position in the NFL…”. T

          The Loins are STILL waiting for 3rd year TE, Eric Ebron, to perform like anything close to a 1st round pick.

  • Cockney Kirk

    AJ Green went full thug, wtf was that?

    • It’s all part of the plan

      Can’t let a rookie run up on you. Prison rule #1

    • CanadaBear

      I was a little surprised until they said it was a rookie. No doubt Green over reacted but almost any big time veteran WR in the NFL probably does something similar.

  • BearDown100393

    The new regime has failed to develop the offense. Do the numbers favor Trestman or post-Trestman?

    • Cockney Kirk

      The new regime assembled a competent offensive line that could protect the QB and established the NFL’s leading rusher. That is miles and miles away from Trestman.

      Trestman’s cutsie Canadian spread worked for a short period his first season. When he could not adapt it or move on from it, teams adjusted to that O and shut him down. He was then checkmated.

      We need a new coach that had develop the offense, but as Bears fans you should be giving credence to what Fox did with Fangio and the D.

      This team can’t keep anybody healthy, and that is a big problem, but the D assembled and the switch to 3-4 was a long road and finally it looks somewhat completed.

      • BearDown100393

        Fangio built the defense.

        • Cockney Kirk

          And Fox hired him and made the relationship work.

          • BearDown100393

            Praise thee Hobo then.

        • Dis Guy Trublinsky


          • BearDown100393


          • Dis Guy Trublinsky

            No. Pace hires the talent.

          • BearDown100393


          • Dis Guy Trublinsky


          • BearDown100393

            She runs the NFL.

  • 505Bears

    Bears are 3 point favorites against the Fackers? I know the home field is good for 3, but did not expect that

    • willbest

      That sounds reasonable since neither team has a QB

  • Cockney Kirk
    • BearDown100393

      The franchise is less than that.

  • Cockney Kirk
  • willbest

    I can’t believe last nights game was decided because a WR ripped the helmet off a DB and the DB got flagged because he was apparently was in the area to make a play? It was should have be 15 yards the other way so the end result was a 50 yard change in field position.

    And this crap is happening 4 times a week now. The rules are clearly too complicated. The NFL needs to gut the rule book if they want to save the sport.

    • AlbertInTucson

      I find it mystifying that offensive players are still allowed to stiff arm a tackler’s face mask.

      • SC Dave

        Perhaps the most blatant of the inconsistencies in the rules.

        • AlbertInTucson

          Not to mention the inconsistencies of the interpretations of said rules.

  • WP4Life

    Detoliet 27
    Fudge 13

    • Cockney Kirk

      Seems about right

  • Cockney Kirk

    Romo says Neon was a little bitch, Neon fires back that Romo never won shit.


    • Malice Halice

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    • BearDown100393

      When it is all said and done, Sanders wouldn’t tackle.

      • AlbertInTucson

        “When all is said and done, more will be SAID than done.”

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    • CanadaBear

      They’re both correct.

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