There is no hiding the problems the Chicago Bears offense had moving the ball in 2016, especially through the air.
Things weren’t all bad last year. Bears quarterbacks finished in the top half of the league in passing yards and were just outside the top 10 in yards per attempt. However, the group finished 19th in completion percentage, 21st in total completions, 24th in passing touchdowns, and 25th in quarterback rating. Overall, it led to an inconsistent showing that resulted in an offense that struggled to find its footing outside of its running game behind Jordan Howard.
In fairness to the quarterbacks under center, the Bears’ receivers attributed to some of the group’s collective struggles:
New 49ers quarterback Matt Barkley suffered the highest drop rate in the NFL in 2016. pic.twitter.com/tzQluqg2p5
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 18, 2017
If you’re Matt Barkley – or any quarterback, for that matter – this isn’t a list you want to be on. And if you’re a receiver Barkley was throwing to, this isn’t a good look either. That 9.2 percent drop rate was the highest in the NFL and more than four percentage points above league average. Sure, Barkley has moved on from Chicago having followed fellow former Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer in signing a free agent contract with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s a slight upgrade for Barkley, but not much of one considering the 49ers dropped 7.5 percent of Blaine Gabbert’s passes last year.
The Bears had two players who had four or more drops in 2016 with Jordan Howard’s seven (!) tied for the third most in the NFL. Joining Howard with having the distinction on being featured on this dubious leaderboard is Josh Bellamy and his four drops. Further, Bellamy (50%) and Howard (58%) both finished with catch percentages below 60 percent. But the group’s pass catching problems weren’t limited to these two players. Kevin White played a total of 192 snaps last season and really didn’t make the most of his limited playing time. White played four games and was targeted 36 times, but had a lowly 52.8 percent catch rate.
To that end, the Bears added some steadier hands in the offseason. Tight end Dion Sims owned a 74.3 percent catch rate last season with the Miami Dolphins, while wide receiver Kendall Wright hauled in a career-best 69 percent of his targets in 2016 for the Tennessee Titans. Draft picks Adam Shaheen and Tarik Cohen have also been lauded for their pass catching abilities, albeit against lesser competition while playing at Ashland University and North Carolina A&T, respectively.
From a Bears perspective, it is unfortunate that several of the players Barkley was throwing to in 2016 are still on the team’s roster going into the 2017 season. And that could pose a problem for Mike Glennon, Mitch Trubisky, or whoever is throwing passes for the Bears in the coming year.