Excluding Cleveland: How Quickly Do Perennially Bad Offenses Actually Turn It Around?

| June 5th, 2018

Chicago’s offense has been consistently bad for the last four years, ranking in the bottom ten in points scored each of those seasons. It’s been especially awful the last two years, when a host of QB issues have left the Bears 28th and 29th in that same category.

But hope springs eternal, and dramatic changes this off-season have fans dreaming of a high-powered offense. Gone is the old-school John Fox, replaced by offensive-minded Matt Nagy. QB Mitchell Trubisky enters his second season, as do Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen, and the dreadful skill position groups have been overhauled with the additions of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, and Anthony Miller.

Just how big of a leap can this offense take in 2018? Optimists are quick to point to the 2017 Rams, who went from consistently bad offenses for years to the NFL’s top scoring unit in 2017 on the heels of a new offensive coach, overhauled WR group, and growth from 2nd year QB Jared Goff. Is that big of a jump an outlier, or something that happens regularly? I dove into the numbers to find out.

Crunching the Data

I looked at where every NFL team ranked in terms of points scored each year for the last decade (so 2008-17), then looked at teams that matched recent trends for the Bears. I looked at three different groupings this way:

  • Bottom 5 for 2 years
  • Bottom 10 for 3 years
  • Bottom 10 for 4 years

Once teams who fit that bill were identified, I looked at the offense the year after those bleak seasons to see how it performed.

Before I get into the results, I should note that I decided to exclude the Cleveland Browns from this. Their offense has ranked in the bottom ten every single year for the past decade – a truly remarkable feat of consistency – and this meant that they drowned out other samples. Full data can be viewed here.

[Editor’s Note: What you just read is the saddest paragraph published on this site in the fourteen years of its existence.]

Bottom 5 – Two Years

Excluding Cleveland, there have been eleven instances within the past decade where teams fielded a bottom five scoring offense for two straight seasons. The teams and how they fared the following season are listed below.

Here we can see that improvements in year three run the gamut. Three teams went straight to having top offenses, four became around average, and four stayed really bad. Overall, their average rank following two years in the bottom five was almost exactly average.

Bottom 10 – 3 years

Excluding Cleveland, there have been fifteen teams in the last ten years who fielded a bottom ten scoring offense for three straight seasons. The teams and how they fared the following season are listed below.

Once again, we see that not all teams make the same improvements. Here the teams are less clustered, with a pretty good spread ranging from top-level offenses to really bad ones. Overall the average is around twenty.

Bottom 10 – 4 Years

Now let’s look at the teams from that group who kept a bad offense for a fourth year. There were five of them who stayed in the bottom ten (excluding Chicago, who we haven’t yet seen year five for); how did they fare in year five? That information is shown below (again, excluding Cleveland).

That’s encouraging. Only one team (excluding Cleveland) has managed to field a bottom ten scoring offense for five straight years in the last decade, and even they showed marginal improvement in year six. Overall, the average for these teams the year after a bad four-year stretch is right around average.

Lessons Learned

Unless you’re Cleveland, it’s hard to be consistently bad on one side of the ball for too long, which means that odds are the Bears are likely to see some offensive improvement this year. But just how much improvement is realistic to expect?

  • Seven out of the 31 teams in this sample size have jumped directly to a top ten scoring offense.
  • Another eleven ending up somewhere in the middle of the pack (between 11th and 20th).
  • Of course, that means twelve still stayed somewhere in the bottom twelve.

Looking at the seven teams who had top ten scoring offenses, I think there are some promising similarities to what Chicago is looking at this year. All of them featured either a new starter at QB or a highly drafted QB entering his 2nd season, and 2 of them featured a new coach installing a new offense.

So there is certainly the potential for the Bears to jump up to a high-scoring offense in 2018, but a more cautious expectation might be to think they end up somewhere around average. That’s where the majority of teams with a QB entering year 2 ended up; the 2015 Jaguars (Bortles), 2016 Titans (Mariota) and 2015 Raiders (Carr) all broke out of years-long offensive slumps and ended up between 14th and 17th in points scored, which is about as average as it gets. Matching that level of improvement would be an excellent sign of growth from the 2018 Bears. And with virtually the entire offense locked in for 2019 as well, it would hopefully be a sign of even better things to come.

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  • SC Dave

    12th or so would be good, but who really knows. It’s a long time until September, let alone January.

  • The No Guy


  • That Guy

    Boy, I wish that all these Eagles fans and commentators would just stick to sports and not talk about how the President cancelled the traditional White House visit by the champs.

    • The ironic part is they didn’t even kneel last season.
      But after calling them sons of a bitches, only 10 decided to make the trip.
      They also are highly active w causes Trumf would object to. So there’s that. I think Long actually donated his entire year’s salary to a charity.

      But yeah, sons of bitches. Not at all like those high character criminals he sympathizes with like DeSousa, Martha Stewart, Blogo, Cohen, Manafort, Rob Porter, Putin…

      His move might also hurt him politically in the state down the line.

      Oh well.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Trump should stick to sports. Maybe it will prevent him from screwing something else up.

      • “Why do the Globetrotters always win!? It’s rigged! Deep state conspiracy!”

        • BenderMcLugh

          “we’re going to create the greatest Globetrotters panel ever to look into this immediately, before I finish this sentence it will already be formed.”

  • T.dyon

    Bears have most of the ingredients, system,coaching,weapons, but many factors contributed to poor Pass Blocking last year. Can Hiestand improve this unit? How fast will they learn an offense that has many options for each play? I think they will be moderately better right from the start, but really improve after the week 5 Bye. If OL is good, top 10, if average top 15.

    • Bears oline was handicapped by Fox last season.
      Ds packed 8 in the box and blitzed w no fear. No WR could get open. Scheme sucked. Rookie QB.
      Must’ve been fun as a defender to go up against that.

      Howard himself said they knew what was coming.

      It was like Patton routing Desert Fox “I read your book!”

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        It wasn’t much of a book. It was a Connect the Dots coloring book. Even without completing each page you still knew what the picture was.

        • CanadaBear

          Not unlike the Scramble on Soul Train!

      • T.dyon

        There really was more factors than I could identify, very difficult to evaluate the OL under those circumstances.

        • And I forgot to mention Howard w one shoulder and Glennon.

          I’m actually pretty amazed they didn’t get completely shut out.

    • leftcoastdave

      McCants cut. That tells me Harry is happier with others fighting for spots.

  • leftcoastdave

    So average is the . . . average after being in the cellar. So da Bears improve to an average O with a top ten D and . . . MAKE THE PLAYOFFS!

    But more likely, with the established line being augmented, a good TE group being augmented, a top flight RB group and now year two for a rookie QB with the best weapons money could buy being on the field, how can we expect only average?

    Playoffs certainly and the division is within reach.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis


    • You gotta hook me up with some of that X your on Leftcoast!

    • Big Mike

      Here’s my optimistic take. Had the Bears not changed ANY personnel on offense, but brought in the same draft class and changed coaching staffs to what we have now, the Bears are 2 wins better. They would get more out of what they have. The scheme would match the players, playcalling would improve, clock management would improve. Even moving up a 1/2 dozen places on offense, gets the Bears 2 more wins. Defense gets better if offense has the ball more often.

      Add in the new talent, that’s another 2 wins. We are 9. So why not steal a game along the way and we’ve got 10 wins. Let’s call it the “healthy Bears bonus”.

      • SC Dave

        Ten wins would have to be considered a successful season.

        • Big Mike

          You think 🙂

          It could happen.

          In 2001 the Bears came out of no where to win 13 games. They even qualified to host a home playoff game in the divisional round. Then their luck ran out. Got bounced as a home favorite by the eagles. Game wasn’t even close. Ouch…

          • CanadaBear

            The Miracle Season! I’m sticking to 8 wins but I hope you’re right!

          • Big Mike

            That was at best a 10 win club, but everything went their way. Very few injuries as well.

          • CanadaBear

            It forced Angelo to re-sign Jauron!

          • SC Dave

            I take it that by that you mean not quite *everything* went their way?

          • CanadaBear

            I liked Jauron as a person but he was a pretty mediocre HC.

          • AlbertInTucson

            That season was SO much fun.

          • Irish Sweetness

            I wish I could remember it :o)

        • John F

          Ten wins would have to be considered a successful season.

          Or a miracle ……….

          • Irish Sweetness

            And in no way satisfactory. Whatsoever. One Lombardi in 30 years.

            Are we really clamouring for average seasons?

          • Big Mike

            clamoring..no. But average would be 60% better than what we were last year. 10 wins, best record in 8 years. Need to crawl, walk, run, right? Its good to feel positive about the upcoming year.

      • Would like to think so, but we don’t really know how Nagy coaches.
        Could be another Chip Kelly for all we know.

        • Big Mike

          No. 🙂

      • leftcoastdave

        Waaaayyy too negative.

        Spread out that box and Howard pounds the rock. Cheat and get toasted.

        • Big Mike

          Love it man.

    • I look at that next week. What O/D combo is historically needed for a playoff team.

  • leftcoastdave

    O line news. Bears cut McCants already. That can only be good news.


  • CanadaBear

    If the D doesn’t take a step back, ST’s continue to improve (they got better as the season progressed last year) and the O gets up to the middle of the pack, The Beloved could be playing meaningful games in December. Baby Steps! I’m guessing the O will have a couple of brutal games that lead to losses and that will keep the Bears at 8 wins.

    • SC Dave

      If you mean too many turnovers, I could see it.

      But don’t forget, we still have Jordan Howard.

      • CanadaBear

        I never forget about Howard! I hope I’m wrong and they get to 10 wins. I just think the O is gonna have a couple of those games where nothing goes right.

      • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

        Who cares about Howard? Ryan Nall will outshine everyone. He will be the Albino Express.

        • That Guy

          Hall of Fame, here comes Nall!

        • SC Dave

          If he’s better than Howard, I’m good with it.

          He got burst

        • I hope Nall makes the team for FF names alone.

          All fo Nall
          Void and Nall
          Pall Nalls and J Daniels…

          • Irish Sweetness

            Nall or Nothing?

          • SC Dave

            Nalls to the wall

    • AlbertInTucson

      “…playing meaningful games in December.”

      We so hope.

  • Sactowns#1

    Reading the new Stephen King book, The Outsider. Pretty good read, and interesting to see King continue his detective novel genre with a super natural twist. It’s interesting to see his subjects change over the years as he’s gotten older, interests have shifted etc.

    • BenderMcLugh

      bought it, on my list

    • The Poe of our age? It was actually Poe who invented the detective genre. Inspired Sir Authur Conan Doyle to create Sherlock Holmes.

      • Sactowns#1

        There are actually quite a few references to Poe in this book. Talks about how Poe’s works were essentially studies of abnormal psychology.

      • Irish Sweetness

        He’s a huge Poe fan.

      • Johnnywad

        I loved the Sherlock Holmes books.

        • AlbertInTucson

          “Elementary, WADson.”

        • Same here. I think those were the first books i read on my own ( non homework). The Hobbit and Choose Your Own Adventure series around the same time, along w Chinese fables.

    • Irish Sweetness

      After he stopped drinking and drugging I found he’d lost something in his writing. Weird.

      • Most artists are like that. Trent Reznor on heroine ? Pretty Hate Machine. Downward Spiral. Not to mention discovering guys like Maryln Manson, producing Lost Highway Soundtrack.

        Off smack? Ghosts?

        Saw him sober and buff at the Hollywood Bowl. Compared to his heroine performances, might as well have stayed home.

        Think they said the same about Coltrane.

        However, there’s a point of diminishing returns. Jim Morrison was so fucked up by the end, he couldnt even finish songs.

        And we all know the story of Fat Elvis…

  • Was bored and had some free time. Was trying to dig up the first articles on Trestman and how DaBlog reacted, but came across this. For those of you thinking I was hating on Pace, enjoy! (Wayne’s World flashback sound…)


    • That being said, I do recall the general conscensus “the O can’t possibly be any worse than Fox Tice”…

      Let’s hope we don’t get blindsided again.

    • BuddhaJoe

      Man the hate for the Long pick was ridiculous. That’s why I try not to judge right after the draft. Funny to go back and read that shit though.

      • Big Mike (usu loves all olinemen) prolly hated the pick the most, but me, GP, Hub, and a few others were not far behind.

        It sounds bad in a vaccuum, ” how could you have hated the Long pick?!” But when put in context, it’s not that crazy.

        Personally, i wanted Xavier Rhodes, Eifert, Floyd, Fredrick or even Patterson, but the first 4 mostly.

        I then wanted to follow that up with Warford in the 2nd, and Mills in the mid rounds (who we did draft).

        Just thought Long was too much of a reach, ESP, after drafting Shea the previous yr.

        Long as we all know only played like 2 seasons of college football. If that. A converted baseball player who was turning 25 as a rook. Just seemed too cute for me.

        One of the drawbacks of “one hit wonders” is that we dont know if their bodies can handle the rigors of weekly car crashes.

        That’s sadly exactly what played out w Long (and White).

        That being said, Floyd apparently had some med flags we didnt know about then, which has retired him now i think.

        And Eifert is as INJ prone as Long.

        I also hated Emery’s 2nd rd pick cuz i thought Warford would be a great pick, but after Long, Emery wasnt drafting back to back olinemen.

        Kinda interesting looking back at it though. And funny.

  • free time and not about to binge watch Game of Thrones

    Some good FAs are still available.

    NT Hankins. Surprised he’s still available. Gmen shifted to a 4-3. He’s only 26.
    How sold are we on Goldman? Would Pace pay TWO NTs?

    OLB Mychael Kendricks. Why hasnt Pace signed him? We have a yuge need at OLB. We have an in with Burton. Only 27. Fits our scheme.

    Am i missing something?

    FS-cb Vaccarro. Wow. How the mighty have fallen. Apparently he has a groin, but coildn’t Fangio use more playmakers?

    S Eric Reid. Seems like he’s getting blacklisted like Kap, but he has missed some time w INJ. Same logic that applies for Vaccarro applies here


    Honorable names. OLB Jr Gillette (30); DE-OLB Courtney Upshaw (28)

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      Kendricks signed with the Browns on Monday.

  • Irish Sweetness

    Are they covering this on mainstream media in the States?

    Child-trafficking station in Tucson, on Cemex land (massive Clinton supporters) … and none other than Jonathan Rothschild is the Mayor of Tucson. Co-inky-dink? As if.

    • Well, we were talking about how many kids (and ppl) go missing . LOTS. Gotta wonder if sex trafficking happens at an alarming rate.

      That being said, I’ve heard this Alex Jones Pizza Gate Hillary Lady Gaga Rothschild devil worshipping baby sacrificing lizard illuminati-luciferean- Jesuit kitty ring actually exists

      Call me crazy

      • Irish Sweetness

        I call this proof.

    • Rain, rain go away

      A while back, christ 10 years maybe, there was this hour long speech on youtube, from the executive director of the FBI…or CIA…or one of those. He was retired and spilling the beans about child sex trafficking, and how bad it is, covered up and everything. Painted a picture of it being as bad as the heroin epidemic! We looked up the guy on the internet, he was who he said he was.

  • Irish Sweetness

    50 years dead today? RIP Bobby K.

    I did not know that it was a Ram’s lineman – one of the Fearsome Four – that ended up with the gun.


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