Although the Matt Nagy offensive era is expected to be quite different than the one it’s succeeding (fingers crossed), there’s an often under-discussed X-factor when it comes to the execution of a new coaching philosophy in Chicago: ball security.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the turnover margin leaderboard and see what we’re starting with:
Turnover differential, 2015-17
1. Chiefs +45
2. Patriots +25
3. Bills +21
3. Vikings +21
30. Broncos -19
31. Bears -24
32. Browns -49
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) June 17, 2018
As you can imagine, it’s quite tough to put points on the board when the defense is on the field as often as the Bears’ has been in recent years. And it’s that much more difficult when the offense is turning it over at an elevated rate. Of course, numbers don’t lie and the Bears have been one of the worst teams by turnover margin for a while now.
But the Chiefs (Nagy’s former team), on the other hand, have been football’s best team when it comes to turnover margin since the start of the 2015 season. That simple fact goes a long way toward explaining the recent fortunes of these two franchises.
And while defense obviously plays a role in this calculation, I want to zero-in on the offensive side of the ball for a moment, because that’s the part Nagy would have influenced most in Kansas City and that’s the part (we hope) he’ll improve most in Chicago.
Indeed, Kansas City’s ball carriers have been superb in protecting the pigskin since 2015, fumbling it away just 20 times over those three seasons. Further, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see that the quality of each team’s quarterback play served a particularly important role in the rankings.
Chiefs quarterbacks have thrown 1,562 passes over the last three seasons, and just 23 of those have resulted in interceptions. That adds up to an impressive 1.5 percent interception rate. The Bears signal callers, by contrast, threw away 43 passes in 1,555 attempts in the same same time span, which amounts to a 2.8% interception rate. Nearly double! So much for John Fox’s ball-control offense.
So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Nagy’s old team and his new one are on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to turnovers. Indeed, it could explain why Fox and his staff are out and Nagy and his crew are in. I must say that GM Ryan Pace hiring an assistant coach who was on the staff of a team with football’s best turnover margin during the same stretch where the Bears were the second-worst team in that same category is pretty heady stuff.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.