Hiring a new play-caller and installing a new offensive scheme has yet to translate into the Chicago Bears putting big numbers on the scoreboard. Chicago’s football team ranks 32nd in total yards, passing yards, and average net passing yards, total first downs, and has just six offensive touchdowns. It’s a mess.
But if it makes you feel any better, the Bears aren’t the only NFL team struggling to score points. NFL Data and Analytics Guru Michael Lopez unearthed some startling numbers:
All right! So it’s not just the Bears! The NFL – as a whole – is going through a scoring slump. Whew! That’s a relief. And here I am thinking it’s just the Bears scuffling at the outset.
As Lopez shares in the tweet, scoring in the NFL is down to a 10-year low. That comes as a legitimate shocker to me. With all the hirings of offensive-leaning head coaches, money spent on quarterbacks and receivers in the offseason, and an arms race across the league to gather as much firepower as possible, you’d think that scoring would be UP early in the season. Especially while the weather has been nice out (save for some notable exceptions). So … what gives?
We could dive into any number of possibilities. But Lopez highlighting the notable changes (for the worse) in the passing game has my attention. There has been an overall drop in efficiency through the air throughout the league. Teams are passing with similar frequency, but are combining for the second-lowest total since 2012 — and doing so at a rate of 28 yards fewer per game. That PFF notes catchable balls are at a five-year low further puts things in perspective.
But let’s not forget the defense’s role in all this. Remember, those guys get paid to play, too. Defensive schemes are throwing out fewer Cover 1 man coverages and are attacking with more blitzes (38.5% of plays is up from the four-year average of 27.4%), more Cover 0 (3.7%), and more zone coverages (Cover 2 up to 13.*%, Quarters climbed to 14.7%). All of this is conspiring to stymie opposing offenses.
All this to say, maybe we should ease up on throwing Justin Fields, Luke Getsy, and the rest of the Bears offense to the wolves.
Should this Bears offense be better? Absolutely. And by a lot, too. But defenses aren’t taking this new era of football geared toward making things easier for offenses lying down. Frankly, I appreciate that. One of the beautiful things about football is the chess match coordinators on both sides play. That defenses are coming up with counterpunches means offenses to come up with their own. Maybe this is the first sign that defenses are making their way back. Are the Bears ahead of the curve here with their hiring of a defensive-leaning head coach this past offseason? Look … anything is possible. All of this has me looking forward to seeing what all these hot-shot offensive gurus can come up with in the weeks and months to come.
In the end, I still dream on a Bears offense that put points on the board. Dumping Matt Nagy for Getsy felt like a step in the right direction. It wasn’t just that the sky was the limit with Getsy and his sensible talk about how modern offenses operate, it was also that the floor had been raised. With that in mind, there is no way for the Bears to be worse … right? There should be nowhere to go but up from here! At least, that’s what I’ll tell myself.