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How Inconsistent was Chicago’s 2017 Ground Game?

| July 16th, 2018

On the surface, the Bears’ running game didn’t change much from 2016 to 2017.

  • In 2016 they ran for 1,735 yards (17th in the NFL) and averaged 4.6 yards per carry (6th).
  • In 2017 that shifted to 1,788 yards (16th) and 4.2 yards per carry (11th).

The total yards slightly increased, the yards per carry slightly decreased, but the overall run game stayed average to above average.

But sometimes total numbers don’t tell the whole story, and some fans felt like Chicago’s rushing attack took a step back in 2017 due to inconsistency. For every dominant game (222 yards and 2 TD against Pittsburgh, 231 yards and a TD against Baltimore) there was an absolute clunker (6 yards against Philadelphia, 20 yards against Tampa Bay). DBB reader Butch thought that this perceived inconsistency was particularly frustrating, and he asked me to look into it.

Quantifying inconsistency is actually fairly straightforward using standard deviation, which is a measure of how much variability exists in a set of numbers. Basically, the higher a standard deviation is, the more inconsistent the numbers in that sample are. To see where the Bears ranked, I looked at their rushing yardage and yards per carry for each game in 2017 and found the standard deviation for both sets; I also did the same thing for the other 31 teams in order to give some context to the Bears’ results.

Rushing Yardage

In terms of rushing yardage per game, the Bears were the least consistent team in the NFL by a wide margin. The table below shows the game-by-game standard deviation for all 32 NFL teams in 2017, with the Bears shown in orange.

That dot way off on the right is the Bears.

Their standard deviation for single game rushing totals was 79.2, while the next highest was the Jets at 66.3 and the NFL average was 45.5. The Bears are so far removed from the rest of the sample that they can statistically be considered an outlier, meaning you would exclude that data point from any further statistical analysis because it is too far from the rest of the group to be considered relevant.

It’s worth noting that consistent does not necessarily mean good, as the five most consistent teams featured awful rushing attacks from teams like Detroit, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, and Miami. Being consistently bad is not something to strive for, but the best rushing attacks should be consistently good instead of showing just flashes of brilliance while getting absolutely shut down at other times.


Yards Per Carry

Of course, variation in rushing yardage in a game can simply be due to the circumstances of the game; when teams are trailing late they are forced to stop running in order to catch up. So another way to look at how effective a team is running the ball is by measuring how many yards they average each time they carry it. The table below shows the game-by-game standard deviation for these results for all 32 NFL teams in 2017, with the Bears shown in orange (note I rounded to the nearest 0.1 yards, so there are only 11 different values here).

Once again we see that the Bears are among the least consistent rushing teams in the NFL, though this time they’re not way out by themselves. The Bears had a standard deviation of 1.9, compared to an NFL average of 1.2 and a total range from 0.8 to 2.1. Chicago came in 2nd here, with the 3rd place team being a good bit lower (for these small numbers) at 1.7.

One thing I found interesting here is that the least consistent rushing team by this measure was actually Kansas City, where new head coach Matt Nagy comes from. Of course, that is heavily skewed by one game when they ran it only 11 times and averaged 10.2 yards per carry thanks to one 70 yard run. The small sample size of only 11 carries fails to even that out, resulting in a massive outlier that skews their overall data. If you remove that one game, they drop to a standard deviation of 1.6 (whereas removing Chicago’s high of 7.4 yards per carry drops them from 1.9 to 1.8).

The Bears don’t quite fit the definition for an outlier here, which would be 2.0, but once again we see that they had a very inconsistent rushing attack. This isn’t any new information, but it’s good to see the numbers back up the eye test.


What About 2016?

I also went and looked at the Bears’ 2016 rushing data to see if 2017 was a new problem or continuation of a troubling trend. In 2016 they had standard deviations of 34.1 in terms of rushing yards per game and 1.0 for yards per carry from game to game, both of which were below average for NFL teams in 2017 (I didn’t do all the legwork for 2016 because that felt unnecessary). That indicates they were actually a fairly consistent rushing team in 2016, and the inconsistency that plagued them in 2017 is thus not a repeating problem.

This is good to see, as it likely means that the consistency issues Chicago experienced running the ball in 2017 were due to a predictable offense. That’s good news for the Bears going forward, because a new offense will hopefully bring a more consistent rushing attack.

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  • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

    I miss those spam comments.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Nah, I’m here, Penis.

  • Irish Sweetness

    How Inconsistent was Chicago’s 2017 Ground Game?

    Here’s my article, completely devoid of numbers:

    Run first down. Run second down. ‘Aw fuck they saw that coming!’ on third down.

    Did I miss anything out?

  • leftcoastdave

    Mine is a variation on the Irish theme, but explained in a manner we have heard from many, including recently Kyle Long: training wheels. Fox was developing Trubisky the best way he knew how which was putting more on his plate each week, but the key emphasis being “keep it safe.” That resulted in most teams stacking the box with the obvious results.

    As Kyle Long said, “the training wheels are now off.”

  • leftcoastdave

    Good take on negotiation issues with top draft picks to get an understanding of what’s happening with Roquan Smith:

    “A quarterback has the best chance of extracting a concession on offsets compared to players at other positions. Mitchell Trubisky, the second-overall pick in 2017, signed a deal with the Bears where his $465,000 2017 base salary and training-camp roster bonuses in 2018 through 2020, which contain most of the money in the last three years of his contract, don’t have offsets. All of the other Bears first-round picks signed under the rookie wage scale, including 2015 seventh-overall pick Kevin White and 2016 ninth-overall pick Leonard Floyd, have offsets. Expect the Bears to insist that 2018 eighth-overall pick Roquan Smith signs a contract like White’s and Floyd’s instead of Trubisky’s.”

    https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/agents-take-heres-a-close-look-at-the-contracts-first-round-picks-are-expected-to-sign/

  • leftcoastdave
  • CanadaBear

    With better health, an actual modern offense, an engaged HC, improved WR’s/TE’s and a QB with the rookie year under his belt, there’s no doubt in my mind the O will take a giant step.

  • Sactowns#1

    Holy crap… is it only Monday?
    I hosted a pop up dinner at a local restaurant space this weekend. Served 36 people chili, NOLA bbq shrimp, ribs, chicken sausage and bananas foster. Then yesterday i bartended a wedding in 97 degree heat for 9 hours. Now I’m back at the office and think I may pass out.
    Happy Monday everyone.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Holy crap… it is Monday already.
      I have been on vacation the past week and a half. Now I’m back at my home office(aka sofa) and think I may pass out.
      Happy Monday everyone.

      • CanadaBear

        I’m retired. I usually know the day of the week. The actual date, not so much.

        • Sactowns#1

          Met with my financial planner last week. I’m a long ways from retirement. 🙁

          • AlbertInTucson

            Met with mine last week. He said it was because he needed a good laugh.

          • CanadaBear

            Working in Control Rooms paid really well but the trade off was shift work.

          • AlbertInTucson

            I did about 8 years on “Swing”.

            First full-time was 40 hours but spread over 6 days. Mon-Fri & Sundays.

            I was young, single and learning a lot about working in TV so, it was fine.

            Then, actually had a 10 hour Mon-Thurs swing shift for a while.

            That was sweet but eventually got dialed back to Mon-Fri.

            Eventually got promoted to a position that was Mon-Fri Days which worked better for the marriage and where I put in the bulk of my time these days.

            When I worked swing, you worked every holiday that happened to fall in it.

            The one I really hated having to work was 8 straight Thanksgivings.

            Able to have dinner with the family but couldn’t pass out in front of football and wake up for leftovers.

            No working holidays anymore.

            The odd Saturday or Sunday or weekday evening comes up for promotion work but it’s all good as is the fact they haven’t asked me to LEAVE the premises on a permanent basis, yet.

          • CanadaBear

            When there were 3 8-hour shifts the only one that was a killer was 11-7. Once it went to 12-hour shifts, those all nighters were a killer. Almost 35 years of shift work! Fortunately I had very understanding wives (one at a time). I have no idea how many Thanksgivings and X-mas’ I worked. If I had to guess I’d say I worked 25 X-mas’ and at least that many Thanksgivings. I always told people when I was young that shift work paid so well because it ruins your social life. Once I was in my mid 40’s that changed to it paid so well because it ruins your health.

          • AlbertInTucson

            I can see where 12s could get OLD in a hurry. The 10s, for me, were a snap. The last 3 were were just inserting breaks in the TONIGHT and TOMORROW shows.

          • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

            you can retire with 250,000.00 in some parts of the Caribbean. I mean, you’ll most likely be executed for being a white devil and the face of the 400yr slave trade but until then you’ll live comfortably.

          • Jamaica Mon! We love the white pussy Mon!

          • SC Dave

            If I went with thrice that, could I avoid the “white devil” thing?

          • Johnnywad

            Being a white devil is unavoidable. But with $750k, you could probably hire a small militia that would make it less of a problem.

          • CanadaBear

            You’re still pretty young, relatively speaking.

    • Russian Hacked Pacebot 2.0

      get one of those IV drips like coked out stock traders get in Manhattan.

  • AlbertInTucson

    DaBearsBlog
    @dabearsblog
    ” … it’s time to start putting some good fucking sentences together again.”

    Well, THAT certainly isn’t one of them.

    • CanadaBear

      Other than his twitter feed, Jeff does a nice job of writing. Twitter, smfh.

      • AlbertInTucson

        Twitter worked out nicely for Roseanne.

      • Scharfinator

        That’s what twitter is all about, Canada 🙂

        • CanadaBear

          That’s why I’m not on there (among many other reasons).

  • Sactowns#1

    Well it was fun seeing trump come out as the Russian asset that he is. Now we’ll just have to see if the rest of the republicans find a spine or if they twist themselves into logic pretzels in order to justify trumps behavior.

    • CanadaBear

      I have no idea how the Repubs will defend this. His supporters are still worried about Hillary’s emails.

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        I know. I can’t believe she had emails. She should have been too busy in the kitchen or cleaning to send emails.

        • CanadaBear

          Barefoot and pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!! She just couldn’t find another Dem to take one for the team and knock her up again!!!!!!!!

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            She preached it takes a village back in the 90s, maybe they could not find a village worth of men to take one for the team.

          • SC Dave

            Or a village that had even one willing to take it for the team.

          • Johnnywad

            Can you imagine drilling that old nag? Bill surely hired that shit out. Or maybe not. He was willing to risk a Presidency for Monica. That dude has no standards.

        • leftcoastdave

          Scrubbing, like her server? “You mean with a cloth?”

    • Scharfinator

      It is madness.

      • SC Dave

        It is pretty funny watching all the liberal media bleating about Trump’s “blame America” stance after long silence on the Obama apology tour.

        Not that Trump likely understands what he tweets, but he is right that we have done a lot of stupid stuff vis-a-vis the Russians since the wall came down. Pointing ever more weapons at them as we advance the anti-Moscow NATO to their frontiers. Inviting the Ukraine in was the final provocation.

        It’s equivalent to a Chinese-led anti-American alliance inevitably pushing up from Venezuela, through Central America, and ultimately inviting Mexico to join. Hillary would have pushed the proverbial red button in such a case.

        • Sactowns#1

          Blame America? No, he said he doesn’t trust the men and women who serve this country and instead trusts a murderous ex-KGB dictator. THAT’s what people are upset about. That AND not even asking for justice to be served in extraditing the 12 indicted Russian spies.
          but hey, I can see you’ve been practicing your yoga.

          • SC Dave

            Hyperbole amuses me. Carry on.

          • leftcoastdave

            Those fine men and women like Stroke and Page with their insurance policy which we now know was the dossier paid for by Hillary? Seriously? Or our former commie CIA director who coordinated this with Stroke and Comey, both of whom, by the way, have been dismissed in disgrace?

            BTW: Lil Rocket Man has not tested in 9 months and there are demonstrations now in Iran because of what our President with Balls is doing, not to be confused with sending Billions of dollars to the mullahs while ignoring chemical weapon red lines.

            Amazing how us deplorables see things differently from the sanctimonious crowd.

          • Fuck you. You sniveling cunt.

            Take your made up Tuck Buckford bullshit and die.

            Jesus I am so fucking ready for the shooting to start

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            well that escalated quickly

          • willbest

            GP be like that when people don’t support his world view.

          • Johnnywad

            Or QB conspiracy theories.

          • Irish Sweetness

            Hey … HEY! ….. he sat near Jim McMahon on a train, mmkay?!

            It’s not like he’s just some dude.

            That’s Jimmy Mac…. that’s my quarterback man ….. (sobs)

          • Johnnywad

            Me, you and Irish, just chillin with some popcorn and cold beverages ringside. Free admission and we clean up on all the bitches.

          • Irish Sweetness

            I gotcha.

            Let me go get my pilot’s uniform ….

          • SC Dave

            It’s typical of the “enlightened” and “tolerant”; the Left have always made the Right look like rank amateurs when it comes to murdering the innocents.

          • Cormonster

            Did you and GP ever meet and throw down? At first I was thinking an MMA cage match would be cool, but I thought better of it.

            It would be more fitting to just go bare knuckles, maybe in an old meat packing plant or something.

          • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

            I forgot I pissed him off, don’t recall what that was about. No we did not meet up, he did not show up, lol.

          • Irish Sweetness

            I’ll get my coat. Marjorie, can you grab the kids?

          • Scharfinator

            That’s a quick way to lose an argument.

          • leftcoastdave

            Quite the intelligent substantive reply.

          • willbest

            Here is the problem with Mueller latest political stunt. The DNC never handed the server over to the police. They handed it over to a third party security firm. And that firm generated a report. They haven’t turned over the server and it might not even exist any more. The chain of custody is shot to hell, and a good defense attorney will have it excluded from evidence. So whatever Mueller has on them, it has to come from the Intel community. And there is no chance in hell he is going to turn that whole process over to the Russians as he would be obligated to in a criminal Court.

            You saw this play out with the last round of people he indicted, when one of them showed up and demanded discovery. He ran away like a little bitch, and then dumped it off on some other prosecutor who will quietly make it disappear.

          • leftcoastdave

            And you trust the FBI who is stonewalling congressional oversight?

            As to the silly notion of asking what you have no legal right to and do not expect to get, even asking shows weakness when you know you will never get what you ask for.

            Unless of course you are Barry O who asks for patience so he can be more flexible after the election. But hey, that mike was not supposed to be hot.

          • Most of my family are either CPD, Secret Service or FBI

            What you know of integrity and patriotism is a fucking joke.

            Trump is a Russian stooge, they bankrolled him, they have his piss tape, and it’s all about to come crashing down as assholes like you get pushed out and sanity comes back.

          • Irish Sweetness

            In fairness GP, America and Russia need to be friends. The rest of us do not like the fact that you aren’t – it’s very fucking scary to know that two naval forces are out there packing Polaris and that dead-mans-handle scenarios are practiced. Russians are good people. Americans are good people. Stop buying into the bullshit that you’re any different from them. Men are men. Women are women.

            It just has to be accepted that African-American women are where it’s at, and Russian chicks are peasant-stock. That’s all.

          • leftcoastdave

            From bitter clinger to deplorable to asshole, that is what the presumptuous left resorts to rather than honest discussion.

            Why is the FBI not being honest with the American people?

        • CanadaBear

          I wouldn’t describe John McCain as the liberal media.

          • willbest

            John McCain has an inoperable brain tumor. And Obama’s win saved us from McCain starting WW3 by invading Iran

          • Irish Sweetness

            And Iraq/Afghanistan? Anyone see ‘Shock and Awe’? That’s a nice little reminder for kids who were too young for …’Operation Enduring Freedom’.

            Show your kids this movie. 90 minutes or thereabouts. Bite-size.The President …the Vice-President … the Secretary for Defense … and the bitch they made secretary of State for her part in selling the bullshit by showing ancient French Intelligence photos to the world and calling it current. They all lied. And they did it again, and again, and they’re still doing it. Rumsfeld and his ilk deserve the death penalty, and I’m against the death penalty.

        • Irish Sweetness

          It’s never been my experience of Chinese people that they are Anti-American. They’re not. People in America think they are, because they’re told they are.

          Ask any American who’s lived outside of America for two years and then gone back for a visit. The one thing they all say is that people live in fear and paranoia. You’re socially engineered that way.

          China and Chinese people are cool. Venezuela don’t want to be controlled by America. What’s wrong with that?

      • leftcoastdave

        What is madness is watching self proclaimed “liberals” supporting the secret police in their stonewalling of oversight by a congressional committee. Liberalism used to be that movement of the people taking power from the monarch, ie., the state. Now we get “progressives” touting the virtue of the secret police who are fighting the release of relevant information tooth and nail.

        What are they afraid we will see? That they made up the Russian collusion meme? That they planted spies to plant “evidence” by innuendo?

        Why doesn’t the “left” want the truth come out?

        • Irish Sweetness

          But this is what happens .. see? They divide us. They have people spitting out words like ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ with pure vitriol. There’s nothing wrong with being liberal or progressive, or being the opposites of what those are …. or being a bit liberal here and a bit conservative there. Left/Right. Red/Blue. You can be what you want, in peace.

          But the money-system should be controlled by the government, not private banks.

          If it was, we wouldn’t have all this hate.

          • Scharfinator

            Disagree about wealth redistribution – governments fall to corruption as much as banks do (more so with no real stock holders?).

            I certainly do agree with you about the playing up of divisions and tribalism between groups. People can’t debate ideas anymore, they just attack others.

    • Johnnywad

      I am beginning to feel that Irish and I are the only ones that realize these people are all pieces of shit. Every damn one of them. Both sides of the aisle.

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        There’s more than you 2. Some of us just try to stay out of the political jabber.

        • Irish Sweetness

          On this site …? How?

      • Irish Sweetness

        Red/blue. I can’t believe people encourage them by voting. The word is ‘revolution’, man.

        It literally breaks my heart for the world. Poverty, disease, hunger, ill will.

        Why do we have all that shit? Because the money-system is privately owned and those c**k-suckers in Congress know all about it and tow the line … or they’re that dumb that don’t have a clue. Criminals ‘looking after us’ … ‘serving the public’ …..

      • Scharfinator

        One of the issues with democracy is that anyone can run. Plato said it pretty well, “Those who seek power are not worthy of that power.”

    • willbest

      What he do? Did he authorize the sale of uranium to russia? did he attempt to stop the development of US energy production diving Russia greater power in the energy markets? Did he organize a coup in the Ukraine giving Russia pretext for annexing Crimea? Did he plead Putin to be patient with him because he would have more flexibility after the election? Or did he do something completely indefensible like blow smoke up the butt of somebody he wants something from like all salesmen? It’s completely out of character for trump to do that *cough*Kim*cough*.

      It is amusing to watch progs freak out at business tactics being used in politics though. I get virtue signaling is big in your set Sac. The Harvey Weinsteins of the world are allowed to put their prostitutes in movies rather than engage in honest hiring practices, because theu say all the right things. But actions are the only means by which to judge people.

    • Irish Sweetness

      Putin’s a genius – he understands media, unlike his counterpart.

      https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/newsbeat-44844077

  • SC Dave

    Interesting
    http://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/24098774

    Imagine how hard is will be to hide a sore rib, or a thigh contusion. And dont think for a second that opposing players and coaches wont try to use it to advantage.

    All things have consequences.

    • AlbertInTucson

      Meh.

      Summer filler.

      It’s BEEN legal in Nevada for decades and teams, coaches and players have been lying about/hiding injuries forever.

      • SC Dave

        The money will be hundreds or thousands of times higher when done over the internet from anywhere.

        • willbest

          That seems like a stretch. I doubt there is that many people not betting now because of the inconvenience

          • AlbertInTucson

            Whaddaya bet States are gonna want more than 10% vig?

        • AlbertInTucson

          A lot that money has already been wagered illegally.

        • Irish Sweetness

          Can’t you do that anyway with a VPN?

  • Irish Sweetness

    I just realized that I would not sleep with Condy Rice under any circumstances. Like none.

    {You could donkey-punch the shit out of her, Irish!}

    (pauses)

    • CanadaBear

      The only thing I would do with Condy is listen to her play piano. She’s supposed to be crazy talented.

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