Turnover problems led the Chicago Bears to make a change at quarterback already, but the team’s inability to force turnovers, themselves, has become equally maddening – particularly, in the air.
Indeed, the Bears are one of just three remaining teams still in search of their first interception, but will get a good opportunity to do so against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.
Flacco threw more interceptions (6) than touchdowns (4) in the team’s first four games this season, but was clean in a win against the Oakland Raiders in Week 5. Credit the Ravens offensive line for doing their part, as they kept Flacco clear for 84.6 percent of his drop-backs, according to Pro Football Focus. Chicago’s defenders should also be prepared to defend against Flacco’s quick release, as he’s getting the ball out – on average – in 2.43 seconds.
Even still, Flacco enters Sunday’s contest with a 70.2 grade from Pro Football Focus that places him 28th among the site’s 32 qualifiers to go along with a 71.0 passer rating that ranks him 31st. If the Bears defense doesn’t get to Flacco, you wonder if they will get to anyone this year.
Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio knows the significance in winning the turnover battle:
#Bears DC Vic Fangio on getting takeaways: "I hope so. We need them. We're doing a lot of good things, but we're not taking the ball away."
— Larry Mayer (@LarryMayer) October 12, 2017
The Bears are a -9 in the turnover differential department through five games, which is nothing more than the continuation of an alarming and disturbing trend during the John Fox era. Indeed, since the start of the 2015 season, Chicago is -33 and has picked up just 33 total takeaways in its last 37 games. This season, the Bears have just three takeaways – two of which came in the team’s Week 3 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But believe it or not, the Bears defense hasn’t really been all that bad – even though opponents are averaging 24.8 points per game against them.
Opposing rushers are averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and teams are gaining just 100.2 yards per game on the ground. Both numbers place the Bears among the top half of rushing defenses. Teams are averaging 204.8 yards per game, which ranks as the eighth lowest average. However, opposing quarterbacks have posted a 101.5 passer rating and only four teams (Miami, Oakland, New England, Cleveland) have allowed a higher rating.
Even though rookie quarterbacks often wilt under the pressure of playing in Baltimore, the Bears have a fighting chance if they can win the turnover battle. And it could all start by coming up with the team’s first interception against a quarterback who has thrown interceptions at a higher rate than Mike Glennon this season.