The Bears are 5-3. They lead the NFC North at the halfway point. Let’s take stock of how the units have performed through eight games.
Blurb: The Bears have a real, professional, exciting offense and a play-caller getting more comfortable each and every week. That they’re scoring the way they are while bringing along *essentially* a rookie quarterback is the most impressive thing about this unit.
Key Stat: Jordan Howard is averaging only 3.5 yards per carry, a significant drop from the previous two seasons. But the Bears are 7th in rushing yards per game, primarily due to Mitch Trubisky.
Grade: The Bears are still leaving big plays out there because of a young, developing quarterback. But the overall numbers are good and the arrow is now pointing decidedly up. B
Blurb: The Bears defense has played two poor games and it’s not coincidence that both of those games featured Khalil Mack on the field, on one leg. When the team has either (a) had Mack at full strength or (b) prepared to play without him, they’ve been the league’s best defense. Mack was the MVP of September. Bryce Callahan has been the breakout star. Kyle Fuller has been the unit’s best player for the duration.
Key Stat: Bears rush defense is allowing 3.7 yards per carry (5th), 84.9 yards per game (3rd), have allowed just 1 rushing touchdown (1st) and recovered 5 fumbles in the run game (1st).
Grade: I’ll give them a mulligan for Edith Wharton’s The Osweiler Affair. They’re dominant against the run. They turn opponents over. They score. They’re a great unit. A
Blurb: They had a nightmare against the New England Patriots, allowing two touchdowns, and Cody Parkey missed his biggest kick of the season against Miami. Pat O’Donnell is inconsistent in the punt game but Tarik Cohen is absolutely electric in the punt return game.
Key Stat: O’Donnell has only punted 30 times, projecting to 60 for the season. He punted 87 times in 2017.
Grade: Easily the weakest of the the three units. Too many penalties. Too little production. Two touchdowns allowed. C-
Blurb: The Bears are in first place. They’re good on both sides of the ball. This is one of the team’s best coaching staffs in decades.
Key Stat: Detroit and Green Bay are in the negative. Minnesota is at 1. But the Chicago Bears are +10 in turnover differential. I don’t always love attributing this stat to the coaching staff but this one feels like it’s on their ledger.
Grade: Special teams gaffes keep them from the top of the table. A-