You probably already knew that the 2016 Bears struggled to put points on the board.
But in case you weren’t quite sure how bad it was, consider that the team’s 17.4 points per game was tied for the fourth lowest scoring average in the NFL, while their 356.5 yards of total offense per game ranked 15th. You can’t win if you don’t score, and the Bears didn’t do much scoring – or winning – in 2016.
But did you know that the 2016 Bears checked in among the top-25 in yards per play over the last five years? Surprise!
Over at Pro Football Focus, Daniel Kelley highlights the teams that were among the least efficient scorers in 2016. Surprisingly, the Atlanta Falcons and Washington Redskins – two teams with steady quarterbacks and multiple pass catching options – were also extreme outliers according to PFF’s research. But based on the lack of point production despite showing big play potential, the Bears are no surprise to be listed among the teams that didn’t score nearly as much as they probably should have.
Pro Football Focus ranked the offensive production of the 160 teams that have taken the field over the last five years, and there is some good news and some bad regarding the placement of the 2016 Bears.
The good news is that the team averaged 5.90 yards per play last season, which ranked 22nd among the 160 offensive units to take the field over the last five years. That’s good company. However, if you felt as if you can’t recall the Bears gaining yards in chunks you are not alone. That’s probably because the team didn’t cash in on their big-play potential, as its 0.29 points per play ranked 135th of 160.
So how do the Bears turn it around and get to the point where their scoring total matches what they do in the average yards per play department?
Kelley seems to think the team’s quarterback situation – whether it’s Mike Glennon or Mitch Trubisky – represents an improvement over the three-headed 2016 monster of Jay Cutler-Brian Hoyer-Matt Barkley.
While the Bears can boast only one star player (running back Jordan Howard) at the skill positions, Dowell Loggains’ offense has a usable piece in receiver Cameron Meredith, upside in rookie tight end Adam Shaheen, and running backs who can make plays catching the ball out of the backfield in rookie Tarik Cohen and veteran Benny Cunningham. And if Kevin White gets healthy, stays off the injury report, and lives up to the potential that comes with being a top-10 pick, then the Bears could show a significant improvement.
No, the 2017 Bears aren’t going to re-write the franchise’s offensive record books. But there is reason to believe they won’t be as bad as last year’s squad.