The Chicago Bears are struggling — who’s to blame?
On paper, the Bears should be a really good team. They have Jay Cutler, who has good games (and bad games). While he’s not amazing, Cutler has been competent enough to cause stability at a critical position. That is key for the Bears. His weapons include two superstar receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, one of the best NFL running backs Matt Forte and an above average tight end in Martellus Bennett.
On defense they lost Julius Peppers, but brought in Jared Allen from the Minnesota Vikings.
This should be a good team, what is holding them back? They are 3-4 on the season thus far and an unexpected 0-3 at home. Someone joked they’re better on the road, because Cutler can’t get booed.
They’ve lost to bad teams (the Buffalo Bills in overtime and Miami Dolphins) and have only beaten bad teams (New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, and apparently San Francisco 49ers). They also got destroyed by the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers. That’s not good.
Let’s look at the different facets of the game and see where the Bears are losing these games.
Cutler is playing horribly, though his numbers don’t really reflect that. His completion percentage of 67.3 ranks him sixth in the league, while he’s seventh in yards, throwing a total of 1,866 so far this season. A little of Cutler’s total yards are boosted by the fact the Bears haven’t had their bye week yet, but a bunch of other teams have. Cutler’s yards per game average is 267 ranks him 11th in the league, which is still an above average quarterback. Unfortunately, Cutler has already thrown seven interceptions, which is tied for third-most in the NFL. Fortunately, he’s also thrown 14 touchdowns which is tied for fifth in the league.
The problem doesn’t seem to be Cutler.
Forte is arguably the best receiving running back as he already has 436 receiving yards and two touchdowns, better than some wide receivers. He’s also fifth in the league in rushing with 448 yards on the ground and has punched it in for three touchdowns. Bennett also has played well thus far, racking up 422 yards and four touchdowns.
Both Jeffery and Marshall have been a bit banged up and their play has been decent. Jeffery has 504 yards (good for 11th overall) and two touchdowns. Marshall has 349 yards (putting him 42nd in receiving yards), but he’s tallied five touchdowns so far. They’ve surely not lived up to expectations, but not by much.
It looks like defense is the problem for Chicago. They are 22nd in overall scoring defense, having already given up 2,492 yards. They are tied for 22nd in passing and receiving defense, while 15th in rushing defense. That is certainly sub-optimal for a team that wants to make the playoffs.
A big problem is the giveaways/takeaways ratio. The Chicago Bears are a negative one in that category. They have a total of 12 fumbles and interceptions for takeaways on the year, but 13 giveaways. That ratio is tied for tenth-worst. You can’t be an elite team with that metric being negative. While Cutler’s seven interceptions aren’t good, the six fumbles for the team is tied for second-worst. Just unacceptable.
Their special teams averages out to middle of the pack. It certainly isn’t the problem going forward.
So far they are 3-4 with a matchup against the New England Patriots in week eight before their bye week.
On their slate the Bears play the Green Bay Packers, followed by the Minnesota Vikings, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions (again) and finishing with another matchup with the Vikings. Other than probably beating the Vikings twice and the Bucs, the Bears will probably lose the rest of those games.
That would be a 6-10 final record, since they will probably lose to the Patriots this weekend. That leaves the Bears out of the playoffs and maybe even making some personnel changes.
The Bears are in trouble…and it’s the defense’s fault.
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