Opponent by the Numbers: Chicago Bears Week 1

A quantified look at the Packers' first opponent of the season: the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Bears have had one of the largest overhauls in franchise history in recent years, and the changes have continued to come in Halas Hall this offseason. Gone is their dinosaur head coach and anonymous offensive coordinator, and the feeling in Chicagoland is that a new era of Bears football is about to begin in earnest.

General manager Ryan Pace has finally assembled the core of his choosing, hiring Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich as head coach and offensive coordinator. Mitchell Trubisky was hand-pick as the franchise quarterback, and the offseason additions of Allen Robinson, Khalil Mack and others give him a supporting cast worth a damn in his second season, all while retaining Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator.

The city of Chicago was cautiously optimistic about 2018 anyway, but the Mack addition pushed it into unbridled excitement and high hopes. Deh Bearsss are goin’ to deh Super Bowl, my frent! Only time will tell if this exuberance is delusional or reasonable, but playing the Packers to open the season has certainly increased the buzz around town.

25 starts

Opinions still vary about Trubisky, selected ahead of Deshaun Watson in the draft and in the same year the Patriots finally parted ways with Jimmy Garoppolo. He’s shown some flashes of talent and athleticism but he’s still wildly inexperienced. It appears the Bears’ season will ultimately be decided by a second-year quarterback who’s only made 25 starts in college and the NFL combined.

The second-year pro only started on season at North Carolina before being selected second in the 2017 draft. Four starts of Mike Glennon kept Trubisky on the bench early last year, before he took over for the last 12 games.

And while most Chicago fans feel good about Nagy, an Andy Reid disciple, installing an offense that maximizes the strengths of the young quarterback, Trubisky will be playing in his third offense in three years. That certainly seems to be an advantage for the Packers, but it also makes scouting pretty difficult for Mike Pettine and the rest of the Packers’ defensive staff.

16.8% below average (or -16.8%)

That is how Football Outsiders rated Trubisky in a metric called DVOA, ranking 29th in the league among qualified quarterbacks and in the same neighborhood as Brian Hoyer and Jacoby Brissett. DVOA stands for Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. It attempts to weed out “empty” stats by evaluating every play against league average for a particular situation, so a 10-yard gain on third-and-eight is more valuable than one on third-and-25.  

Trubisky’s seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2017 don’t look impressive, but the model for a turnaround in Chicago has been that of the Rams: replace the outdated head coach with a young, QB-friendly one, build a stout defensive front and give the young quarterback some weapons he can use to spark development.

Jared Goff’s rookie year was abysmal, leading to a -74.8% DVOA in 2016, easily the worst in the league. But he improved and was surrounded by better players, leading to a 2017 DVOA of 24.0%, fifth in the NFL.

The league is far too complicated to assume Trubisky will make a similar leap, but that’s the hope in Chicago.

31st in the NFL

The Bears have been decimated by injuries in recent years, and last year they had the second-most Adjusted Games Lost due to injury, another Football Outsiders stat. Instead of simply counting games lost, it weighs starters and key contributors—third receivers and second running backs—as heavier losses than guys at the bottom of the roster who rarely play on offense or defense.

Chicago set a record for AGL in 2016 with 158.8 games lost and they were nearly last in the league last year at 118.1 games lost (Washington was last at 121.0 while Green Bay was 21st at 84.8). The Bears and their fans feel like they’ve paid their dues to the football gods, suffering through injuries and bad leadership in a series of horrible seasons.

Fresh faces have helped some fans turn the page to what is being called a new era, but the Bears aren’t going anywhere if they can’t avoid the injury bug. Most teams require health to contend, but the Bears will need it especially. Their depth is sure to suffer over the coming years as a result of Pace trading away several draft picks in pursuit of Trubisky and Mack.

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Matt Kelley is a staff writer for Cheesehead TV. He can be found on Twitter via @hustleandheart1

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Comments (13)

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The TKstinator's picture

September 07, 2018 at 03:53 pm

If it’s about to begin “in earnest”, I’d suggest getting Earnest’s consent first.

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Harlan Huckleby's picture

September 07, 2018 at 03:59 pm

Hey Vern!

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4thand1's picture

September 07, 2018 at 04:38 pm

New season , new numbers. Only number I care about is AR starting 16 games plus playoffs.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

September 07, 2018 at 04:43 pm

....too much hype on Mack.....Lombardi said......"always respect your opponent......but NEVER fear them"......now go kick some bear @zzzzz.......

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 07, 2018 at 05:24 pm

Agreed. Ignore the hype..... start playing football. Bring home the Lombardi trophy. No such thing as a Mack trophy :-)

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 07, 2018 at 06:12 pm

The Mack Trophy: $141 million deal that includes $90 million guaranteed with a $34 million signing bonus.

The 2 happiest days of having the NFL's highest paid defensive player. The day you sign him and the day you cut him.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 07, 2018 at 08:26 pm

I sensed Mack Fatigue syndrome, so I eliminated stuff about Mack from an article. Pace really overpaid him. Miller got a $17M signing bonus, $42M guaranteed at signing, and a $19M AAV in 2016. Adjusting for cap inflation, Mack (who I don't think is a better player than Miller) should have received a $19.4M signing bonus, $47M guaranteed at signing, and $21.7M AAV. Instead, Mack got a mind-boggling $34M signing bonus, $60M guaranteed at signing, and $23.5M AAV.

It's not like Pace was negotiating against 31 other NFL teams. Oh well, that's really an argument that works only at the margins.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 07, 2018 at 09:14 pm

I am still suffering from MFS. Saying the Bears overpaid and breaking it down by the numbers hasn't increased my MFS.

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John Galt's picture

September 08, 2018 at 06:04 am

Mack may get arrested before he is paid all that money

https://www.silverandblackpride.com/2013/6/28/4475360/still-think-oaklan...

Another year, and as a veteran, I won't be watching until the disrespect stops. Nike thinks Colin K is a hero. I knew heroes in the military and the clowns at Nike and Colin K are are not heroes.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

September 09, 2018 at 01:23 am

As Phil Knight would say, "Any publicity is good publicity." Judging this Ad campaign in light of that statement, its already been a marvelous success.

Could you imagine Nike coming out with with an Ad Campaign featuring Vietnam Vets? Or giving a Vet his own line of Nike army boots?

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Kb999's picture

September 07, 2018 at 05:41 pm

Take it one game at a time. Put up a "W" on Sunday night. It dosnt even have to be pretty.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 07, 2018 at 08:30 pm

While not actually stated, this article seem to imply that the Bears don’t actually suck as much as reported ;-)
I disagree.

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Samson's picture

September 07, 2018 at 09:11 pm

Please, not more numbers!!
You dudes are muddying baseball to the point where most haven't a clue as to who's who.

Leave football alone. --- Thank you 'Since '60.

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