There seems to be a prevailing consensus among Chicago fans that the Bears still have one of the best defenses in the NFL. Unfortunately, there is no reason to believe that is true.
The Bears had a great defense in 2018, but that was 3 years ago, an eternity in the NFL. They led the NFL in pretty much every defensive stat imaginable that season, but we’ll track their decline since then with a simple one: points allowed.
- 2018: 17.7 points/game, 1st in NFL
- 2019: 18.6 points/game, 4th in NFL
- 2020: 23.1 points/game, 14th in the NFL
That’s right, Chicago’s defense was more average than good in 2020 (with 32 NFL teams, 16th is exactly average). That feels weird to say, right? I know I certainly didn’t think of them that way last year. But a broader look at the statistics paints exactly that picture, as you can see in the table below. DVOA is a measure of total defensive performance from Football Outsiders, and net yards/attempt (which factors in sacks and pass attempts) is from Pro Football Reference.
The only major stat where the defense ranked in the top ten was yards/run allowed. Everywhere else was mostly middle of the pack besides forcing turnovers, which they were bad at.