Stats & Info: Chicago Bears

Bears' victory comes after steep climb

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
2:25
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AP Photo/Tony Avelar
Brandon Marshall caught three touchdown passes to help the Bears catch the 49ers.
In Week 1 it was the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 2, on Sunday night, it was the Chicago Bears.

For the second time in two weeks, a team that trailed 17-0 in the first half mounted a rally and pulled out a highly improbable victory.

On Sunday night, on the possession after the San Francisco 49ers took a 20-7 lead in the third quarter, the Bears’ win probability dipped to 5.2 percent. The Bears finished that drive with the second of Brandon Marshall’s three touchdown catches, making the score 20-14 and improving their probability of winning to 20.3 percent.

The first snap after the ensuing kickoff was the game’s biggest play in terms of win-probability swing. Kyle Fuller’s interception of Colin Kaepernick’s pass boosted the Bears’ chances of winning by more than 25 percentage points.

The Bears’ win probability surpassed 50 percent on Jay Cutler’s touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett on the next play, and the Bears never had less than a 45 percent likelihood of winning in the final 13 minutes.

Less is more
Whether it’s because the Dallas Cowboys win more often when Tony Romo passes less, or it’s that Romo passes less when the Cowboys are winning, there’s no denying Romo has performed better when he throws fewer passes. In his career, his win-loss record, touchdown-to-interception ratio and Total QBR are much better when he attempts fewer than 30 passes in a game.

Romo threw 29 passes Sunday in the Cowboys' 26-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. He completed 66 percent of his passes, but he was sacked four times and averaged 6.1 air yards per pass. His Total QBR was 63.

Total QBR is a metric on a 0-to-100 scale, with 50 being average. Even when Romo throws 30 or more passes, he performs at a level above the NFL average.

Don’t blame Saints’ offense
The New Orleans Saints have posted an NFL-high plus-30.3 offensive efficiency this season. But their defense and special teams have combined for a minus-34 efficiency, the worst in the NFL. Efficiency accounts for the impact of each play on a team’s potential point margin.

Five other teams since 2006 have posted a worse defense/special teams efficiency in their first two games, and four of them finished under .500. But there might be some hope for New Orleans -- the 2007 New York Giants finished 10-6 and won the Super Bowl.

Chicago, Trestman good fit for Cutler

January, 2, 2014
Jan 2
12:38
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Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Jay Cutler agreed to a seven-year contract with the Bears on Thursday.
Four days after losing in Week 17 to miss the playoffs, the Chicago Bears have re-signed Jay Cutler to a seven-year deal.

In only five years in Chicago, Cutler has already put up some of the most prolific passing numbers in franchise history. His 14,913 passing yards and 1,258 completions are already franchise records, and his 101 touchdown passes are second behind Sid Luckman’s 137.

But it hasn’t all been positive. In his first season with the Bears, Cutler threw 26 interceptions. The only player in franchise history to throw more was Sid Luckman (31 in 1947).

During his five seasons in Chicago, Cutler has thrown interceptions on 3.6 percent of his passes. Only Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick have been picked off more frequently in that span.

Part of his problem was staying upright. From 2009 to 2012, the Bears allowed 184 sacks. Only the Arizona Cardinals allowed more.

The offensive line was much improved this season, allowing only 30 sacks. That was tied for fourth-fewest in the league.

Cutler took well to Marc Trestman’s new offense. His average throw was nearly a yard shorter and he threw far fewer passes to his wide receivers. That resulted in an increase of 4.3 percentage points in his completion percentage.

He posted a 66.4 Total QBR this season, his highest in five seasons in Chicago. In eight seasons in the NFL, only his 72.0 QBR in 2008 was higher.

Another good reason for Cutler to stay in Chicago is the Bears supporting cast of Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall.

Forte was third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2013. Jeffery and Marshall became the second pair of Bears teammates to record 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, joining Jeff Graham and Curtis Conway in 1995.

During his career, Cutler’s numbers are almost the definition of league average. Among 33 qualified quarterbacks, his winning percentage, Total QBR, passing yards per game and touchdown-to-interception ratio all rank between 14th and 23rd.

Rodgers pulls dramatic win from likely loss

December, 30, 2013
12/30/13
4:06
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAaron Rodgers was conspicuous by his presence in the Packers’ victory over the Bears.
In his first game since he hurt his collarbone in a Week 9 loss to the Chicago Bears, Aaron Rodgers on Sunday added to his lore.

His 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight with less than a minute left raised the Green Bay Packers’ win probability from 40.7 percent to 99.5 percent. After Cobb’s score, the Packers held on to beat the Bears and win the NFC North.

The fourth-down touchdown pass was the biggest play in terms of win probability added (58.8 percent) in Rodgers’ career and one of the biggest plays of the 2013 season. The Packers converted three fourth-down situations on their final drive, becoming the second team this season to convert three fourth-down plays on a drive (the Saints did so on a fourth-quarter drive in Week 15 against the Rams).

The Packers finished the season in wild fashion to make the playoffs. Their playoff chances were 5.5 percent after a 30-point loss to the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The Packers won three of their final four games, including a one-point victory over the Cowboys in which Green Bay overcame a 23-point halftime deficit and 1.7 percent win probability.

Another tide-turning pass for Cowboys
Kyle Orton followed a fourth-and-nine touchdown pass to Dez Bryant (which created a 23.5 percent win probability swing) with an interception that dropped the Dallas Cowboys’ win probability from 44.3 percent to 5.8 percent (-38.5 percent).

The Cowboys’ regular-season finale was a fitting conclusion to their season. Cowboys quarterbacks threw nine fourth-quarter passes that swung the team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points in either direction, the most such passes of any team this season.

Chargers rewarded for risky decision
With the score tied in overtime of their game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Diego Chargers converted a fourth-and-two at their 28 on a fake punt. If the Chargers had not converted and been stopped for no gain, the Chiefs would have had the ball at the Chargers’ 28 needing a field goal to win. The Chargers’ win probability at that point would have dropped to 19.1 percent.

Since 2008, NFL teams have converted 18-of-27 fake punts (66.7 percent), including 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) fourth-down fake punts needing two or fewer yards.

Ryan Succop could have all but eliminated the Chargers from the playoff race with a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in regulation. The Chiefs’ win probability was 61.3 percent before the kick, and Succop had been 19-of-25 (76.0 percent) in his career on field goals between 40 and 45 yards.

QBR shows Manning is consistently superior
Peyton Manning posted a 95.4 Total QBR against the Oakland Raiders, his fourth game with a Total QBR greater than 95.0 this season, most in the NFL.

Manning finished this season with a Total QBR of 82.9, his fourth season with a Total QBR greater than 80.0 since 2006 (as far back as we have data). The rest of the league’s quarterbacks have combined to post four such seasons during that span (min. 500 action plays).

Redskins finish with a new low in expected points
The Washington Redskins’ offense added -28.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in Sunday’s 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, Washington’s worst offensive output in a game since 2006.

Kirk Cousins was limited to a 38.8 completion percentage (19-of-49) and an average of 3.5 yards per attempt. Cousins and the offense were forced to punt on their first five possessions (four of them after three downs). Their only points came on field goals after short drives beginning at New York’s 18- and Washington’s 46-yard lines. Washington averaged 3.4 yards per play (its second-worst of the season) and committed four turnovers.

The Redskins are the only team this season to finish in the bottom 10 in offensive, defensive and special teams EPA.

On the flip side, the Giants’ defense had its best performance of the season. Defensive EPA takes into consideration how the defense keeps the opponent from moving the ball, forces turnovers and scores. By that measure, the Giants’ defense contributed 28.8 points to the team’s net scoring margin. It was the second-best defensive EPA performance by any team this season.

Likely combo makes an unlikely play

December, 29, 2013
12/29/13
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The Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs thanks to an improbable touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb.

How unlikely was that touchdown?

Rodgers entered that play 1 for 5 on fourth-and-eight or longer situations over the last five seasons.

The Chicago Bears sent five or more pass rushers on 16 of Rodgers’ first 40 dropbacks, including seven at Rodgers on the decisive play.

On the first 15 of those, Rodgers was 8 for 15 for 55 yards and two interceptions.

Rodgers was under duress on that play. He was 0 for 4 with an interception when under duress.

The Rodgers-Cobb combo has been one of the most valuable in the NFL when both were healthy.

The pair have connected on 77.1 percent of their passes since 2011, best of any quarterback-wide receiver duo with 150 attempts in that span.

Both of Rodgers’ touchdown passes to Cobb on Sunday were thrown from outside of the pocket. Rodgers has thrown a team-high five touchdowns to Cobb outside the pocket over the last three seasons, and has targeted him more than any other wide receiver.

The Bears were beaten by Rodgers and Cobb on pass that traveled 38 yards past the line of scrimmage. It was Rodgers’ first attempt 30 yards or more on the game.

This season, the Bears have allowed 8-of-15 passes (53.3 percent) thrown 30-plus yards to be completed. The league-average completion percentage on those passes is 29.6 percent.

The Packers win capped an unlikely course to postseason play. After Week 13, Numberfire’s simulations gave them only a six percent chance of making the playoffs. But from there, Green Bay’s hopes rose each week, culminating in the amazing finish on Sunday.


Matchups to watch: Packers at Bears

December, 26, 2013
12/26/13
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The Chicago Bears host the Green Bay Packers in Week 17, with the winner taking home the NFC North division title and more importantly, a playoff berth.

Aaron Rodgers is expected to start for the first time since Week 9, when the Packers lost to the Bears by a touchdown after he was injured in the first quarter. Jay Cutler didn’t play in that game, and his 1-8 career record against the Packers could level the playing field.

Cutler’s checkered past against the Packers is just one of the key matchups to watch in the game.

Jay Cutler versus Dom Capers

Since joining the Bears, Cutler has thrown eight touchdowns and 17 interceptions against the Packers. Against the other NFC North foes, Cutler has thrown 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Defensive coordinator Dom Capers joined the Packers the same season Cutler joined the Bears, and his schemes -- specifically the pass rushing tendencies -- have caused problems for Cutler.

Cutler has completed 49 percent of his passes with one touchdown and eight interceptions when the Packers have sent five or more pass rushers over the last five seasons.

One of the reasons these pass rushes have been so successful is that Capers brings added pressure when Cutler might not be expecting it. The Packers have sent five-plus 43 percent of the time on first down against Cutler, something the rest of the NFL has done only 29 percent of the time to Cutler.

However, Cutler has more support his season, leading to another key matchup:

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery versus Packers’ secondary

Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are one of two sets of teammates with 1,000 receiving yards this season (Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker). In Week 9 against the Packers, the duo combined for 12 receptions, 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Marshall and Jeffery did a majority of their work on the right side of the field in that game (defense’s left), the side cornerback Tramon Williams predominantly works. The duo grabbed eight of their passes for 115 yards and both touchdowns on the right side of the field in the game.

The Packers’ secondary has struggled all season, allowing 28 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions. The Packers have allowed no more than 29 touchdowns and recorded no fewer than 18 interceptions in any of the previous four seasons.

Packers run game vs Bears rush defense

The Packers nearly won in Week 9 without Rodgers due to the success of the run game. The Packers gained 199 yards on 29 rushes, including two touchdowns, in the game.

Eddie Lacy rushed 22 times for 150 yards against the Bears, but could be limited in Week 17 due to an ankle injury. Even if he is out, James Starks has been just as capable, averaging 5.2 yards per rush this season (6.7 in Week 9).

The Bears’ rush defense has only gotten worse as the season progresses. Prior to the Packers game the Bears were allowing 4.0 yards per rush, but have since allowed a whopping 6.5 yards per rush. To put that into perspective, no team has allowed more 5.3 yards per rush in a season over the last 10 years.

Matchups to watch: Bears at Eagles

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
10:55
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Elsa/Getty ImagesLeSean McCoy has been the best running back on zone reads this season.
Both the Chicago Bears and Philadelphia Eagles control their division title destinies with two weeks left in the regular season. Let’s take a look at some of the key matchups between these division leaders.

Eagles zone read vs. Bears defense
The Eagles run the zone read better than any team in the NFL and it’s not close. The Eagles have rushed for 1,479 yards and nine touchdowns on zone-read runs, 886 yards and five touchdowns more than any other team.

There have been seven games in the NFL this season in which a team ran for 100 yards on zone-read rushes, with the Eagles accounting for six of them.

LeSean McCoy has more yards (1,017) and touchdowns (five) on zone-read rushes than any team this season.

Opposing teams have run 12 zone-read rushes against the Bears this season, the fewest any team has faced.

The Bears have been far from impressive in limited action against the zone read. Opposing teams are averaging 9.1 yards per rush on such runs, with only the Lions allowing more (10.1).

Jay Cutler in the Fourth Quarter vs. Eagles defense
Jay Cutler has been at his best in the fourth quarter this season. His Total QBR of 95.2 in the fourth quarter leads the NFL and is on pace to be the second-highest since 2006.

Only Peyton Manning, in his Super Bowl-winning season in 2006 posted a higher fourth-quarter Total QBR than Cutler has in 2013.

Of Cutler’s 16 passing touchdowns this season, eight have come in the fourth quarter, including two in the final 15 minutes last week against the Browns.

But something has to give in the fourth quarter Sunday, as Cutler goes against an Eagles defense that has excelled in such situations this season.

Opposing quarterbacks have posted a Total QBR of 39.8 in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, ninth lowest in the NFL. And much better than their 59.9 opponents' Total QBR in the first three quarters of the game.

Can these offenses be stopped?
The Bears are scoring 29 points per game, second most in the NFL behind the Broncos. The Eagles are the seventh-highest scoring team in the league, putting up 26 points per game. The two teams have not been as strong on the defensive end, as they both rank in the bottom half of the league in points allowed.

How many points will be scored Sunday night?

The over/under opened at 56 at the Las Vegas Hilton SuperBook, the highest total of any game in Week 16. This will be the fourth game for the Bears and 10th game for the Eagles that the Vegas over/under is in the 50s this season.

Times have certainly changed for the Chicago Bears under offensive guru Marc Trestman. In the previous 20 seasons, only one Bears game had an over/under in the 50s.

Keys to victory: Bears 45, Cowboys 28

December, 10, 2013
12/10/13
12:38
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The Chicago Bears put on an offensive display in Monday night’s 45-28 win over the Dallas Cowboys, helping them move into a tie atop the NFC North division with the Detroit Lions.

The Bears had nine offensive possessions, scoring five touchdowns, kicking three field goals and taking a knee to end the game. They’re just the third team to have a game without punting this season, joining the Packers and Broncos, with two of those games coming against the Cowboys.

Here were the three biggest keys for Chicago’s victory on Monday Night Football.

McCown Makes Bears History
McCown finished with 348 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In Bears franchise history, only one other quarterback has had a game in which he threw for over 300 yards with at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions, that was Erik Kramer in a 1995 game that the Bears lost to the Rams.

McCown also added a rushing touchdown in the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McCown is the first Bears quarterback with five touchdowns (passing plus rushing) in a game since Johnny Lujack did it in 1949.

Bears WR Duo Emerges as Best in NFL
Brandon Marshall finished with 100 receiving yards, giving him over 1,000 on the season, the seventh straight season Marshall has topped 1,000 receiving yards. He’s just the fourth player in Bears history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the team.

He and teammate Alshon Jeffery are already over 1,000 yards on the season with three games remaining. They’re just the second set of Bears teammates to each have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, joining Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham, who did it in 1995.

Marshall and Jeffery have combined for 2,283 receiving yards this season, the most combined yards by a pair of teammates this season.

Cowboys Defense Continues to Struggle
Although Tony Romo is criticized for his record in December and later (with Monday’s loss, his career record in such games is now 13-20), he threw three touchdowns in the loss. Instead, it was the Cowboys defense that struggled, as they've been doing all season.

After allowing 490 yards to the Bears, the Cowboys defense is allowing 426.8 yards per game this season, more than 25 more than any other team.

Dallas is on pace to give up 6,830 yards this season, not only the most in franchise history, but the second-most by any team in NFL history, trailing only last year’s Saints (7,042).

It’s the fifth time this season the Cowboys have allowed at least 490 yards in a game. No other team has two such games this season.

Deep passes will be key in MNF matchup

December, 9, 2013
12/09/13
11:48
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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh Josh McCown has excelled in the starting role thanks in large part to his success on deep throws.


Because the Eagles beat the Lions Sunday, the winner of Monday’s game will be tied atop their division. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups for the Week 14 edition of Monday Night Football between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.

Josh McCown’s deep ball vs Cowboys defense

While filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, Josh McCown has posted a Total QBR of 78.4, second best in the NFL. McCown’s success has a lot to do with his deep throws. McCown has completed 51.7 percent of his passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield this season, second only to Russell Wilson. McCown has had most of his success when targeting Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, who have combined to catch 12 of his 15 completions on deep throws.

The Cowboys’ ability to stop opposing quarterbacks on deep throws has had a direct impact on whether or not they win the game. In their seven wins, opposing quarterbacks have completed 34.7 percent of their passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield and posted a Total QBR of 34.0. In the Cowboys five losses, opposing quarterbacks have a nearly perfect 99.8 Total QBR, mostly due to a 66.7 completion percentage on deep throws.

Tony Romo’s deep ball vs Bears defense

Through the first five weeks of the season, Tony Romo was tied with Drew Brees for the best Total QBR on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield (99.5). Romo was averaging a league-high 18.7 yards per attempt on such throws. But lately, Romo has been unable to find the same success on deep throws. In his last seven games, Romo has a Total QBR of 51.6 on deep balls, 28th among qualified passers.

Romo will look to return to early season form as he goes against a Bears defense that has struggled defending deep passes.

The Bears have allowed a league-high 99.1 Total QBR and 57.1 completion percentage on passes thrown 15 or more yards this season.

DeMarco Murray’s inside running vs Bears defense

The strength of DeMarco Murray this season has been running inside. Murray has averaged 5.2 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles this season, fifth best in the NFL. He has averaged nearly a yard more per rush on those runs than he has on runs outside the tackles.

Murray could exploit a Bears defense that has struggled to stop the inside run.

The Bears have allowed 4.9 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles, third worst in the NFL. Since 2006, the Bears have never had a season in which they allowed more than 4.3 yards per rush on such runs. Since Lance Briggs was injured in Week 7, the Bears have allowed over 100 yards on runs inside the tackles in all five games. The Bears had allowed over 100 such rushing yards twice in their first seven games when Briggs was active.

Keys to victory: Bears 27, Packers 20

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
12:17
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The injury to Aaron Rodgers was among the biggest factors in the matchup between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. But what did Chicago do best in this win from a statistical perspective?

Forte comes through
Matt Forte picked the right day for his best game of the season, rushing 24 times for 125 yards and a touchdown. It was his second career rushing touchdown in 10 games against the Packers. His only previous score against them came in Week 16 of his rookie season, 2008.

Forte had 80 rushing yards before contact, his most in a game since Week 4 of 2011 against the Carolina Panthers (147).

McCown up to the challenge, Wallace struggles in relief
Jon Gruden praised Josh McCown's preparedness multiple times during the "Monday Night Football" broadcast as the Bears backup quarterback earned his first win as a starter since beating the Minnesota Vikings on Jan. 1, 2012.

McCown established a connection with Brandon Marshall similar to that of injured starting quarterback Jay Cutler.

Seven of McCown’s completions on throws more than 10 yards downfield went to Marshall.

Marshall had his 10th game with at least 100 receiving yards since joining the Bears in 2012, tied for second-most in the NFL in that span.

The Bears finished with 442 yards on offense, their most in a win at Lambeau Field.

Packers backup Seneca Wallace struggled after coming in for Rodgers. Wallace's 7.7 Total QBR was the worst by any quarterback in the NFL this week. The Packers had 113 net passing yards, their fewest in a game since they had 110 against the Vikings in Week 10 of the 2008 season.

Milking the clock
The Bears executed their last offensive drive in near-perfect fashion, keeping the Packers off the field until there was less than a minute left in the game.

The Bears ran 18 plays for 80 yards, in a drive that lasted 8 minutes, 58 seconds. It was nearly two full minutes longer than the Bears’ longest drive this season. The 18 plays were the most they’ve run on one drive in any game in the past four seasons.

Stats to know
The Bears snapped a six-game losing streak against the Packers and won at Lambeau Field for the first time since 2007.

The loss was the Packers' first regular-season home loss in November or later since 2009 (had won 17 straight). They had won their previous 10 home games overall.

Top stats to know: Bears at Packers

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
1:12
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Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Getty ImagesThe Green Bay Packers have won 10 straight home games against the Chicago Bears.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers will continue their rivalry and will determine if the NFC North will become a logjam at the top at the season’s midway point on Monday Night Football (8 ET/ESPN). A Bears win turns the race into a three-way tie. A Packers win would keep them in sole possession of first place.

Here are five stats to know heading into tonight’s game.

1. The Packers have won five straight games against the Bears and 10 straight home games overall. They also haven’t lost a regular-season home game in November or later since 2009.

This is the 11th time these teams have met on Monday Night Football, having split the first 10 meetings, but the first time the Bears and Packers have played a Monday night game in Green Bay since 1997. The Bears have won the last two Monday Night Football meetings between the teams, each by a score of 20-17.

2. The Elias Sports Bureau notes that Aaron Rodgers' .800 win percentage (8-2) against the Bears is the best by any quarterback with at least 10 starts in the Bears-Packers rivalry (Brett Favre ranks second, .688 win percentage).

3. A potential key to this game could be how effective the Packers are at throwing the deep ball. Rodgers has completed 50 percent of his throws that went at least 20 yards downfield in 2013 (16-of-32). That rate is tied with Russell Wilson for the best mark in the NFL (min. 15 attempts).

The Bears are allowing opponents to complete 57 percent of their throws of that distance, the second-worst mark in the NFL entering Week 9. Last season, opponents completed only 29 percent of their throws of at least 20 yards downfield against the Bears defense.

4. The Packers’ running game has come alive this season and has become a major threat. Three of Green Bay's top four rushing performances over the last five seasons have come in the last five games. Green Bay has had an 80-yard rusher in each of the last six games, the longest streak in a single season in franchise history.

5. The Bears will be without starting QB Jay Cutler who injured his groin Week 7 against the Redskins. Since the Bears acquired him in 2009, they are 2-6 in games started by other QBs, while averaging nearly 10 points fewer than when Cutler is in the lineup. Chicago quarterbacks not named Jay Cutler have combined to throw eight touchdowns and 21 interceptions over that span.

Keys to victory: Bears defeat Giants, 27-21

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
1:12
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What were the three biggest keys to the Chicago Bears win over the New York Giants on Thursday night?

The short passes worked
Jay Cutler was 20-of-27 for 187 yards and two touchdowns on throws that traveled 10 yards or fewer. Cutler's 27 attempts and 6.9 yards per attempt were both season highs.

This was the fifth time this season that Cutler had multiple touchdown passes in a game, matching the total he had for the entire season in both 2011 and 2012.

Cutler was 9-for-10 when targeting Brandon Marshall, matching the best completion rate to Marshall in any game since Marshall joined the Bears.

DB blitzes scared Manning
The Bears brought a defensive back as a pass rusher on three Eli Manning dropbacks. Two of those blitzes resulted in an interception.

Manning has thrown five interceptions this season when facing a defensive back as a pass rusher, more than any quarterback had in all of 2012.

Manning has thrown an interception once every 7.2 dropbacks when facing a defensive back who was a pass rusher compared with one every 24.5 dropbacks not facing one.

Manning is the first player to throw 15 interceptions in the first six games of a season since Dan Fouts did so for the San Diego Chargers in 1986.

Unsung key: Podlesh's punts
Bears punter Adam Podlesh might not have had the most impressive day on the stat sheet, but his punting definitely played a role in the Bears win.

Adam Podlesh
Podlesh
Podlesh averaged only 36.7 yards per punt on his three kicks, but the Giants did not return any of those boots. That resulted in their starting field position being on their own 9, 8, and 10. They were able to score on the first of those, but did not score on either of the last two.

The Giants average starting field position after punts was their own 9. That's the worst starting field position for a team against a punter in any game in which that punter punted multiple times all season.

Top things to know: Giants at Bears

October, 10, 2013
10/10/13
11:56
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Elsa/Getty ImagesEli Manning has already thrown 12 INT this season, three fewer than he had all of 2012.
Week Six of the NFL season begins tonight as the New York Giants take on the Chicago Bears from Soldier Field.

Through five weeks, every NFC East team has a losing record and the division is a combined 5-14, worst in the NFL.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the only time an entire division has been under .500 through five weeks since the merger in 1970.

Let’s take a look at some storylines for this game.

1. The Giants are 0-5 for the first time since 1987. The only time the Giants lost their first six games of a season was in 1976, when they opened 0-9.

One reason for the Giants rough start has been their defense. They are the second team in NFL history along with the 1954 Chicago Cardinals to allow MORE than 30 points in their first five games of a season. No team has ever allowed MORE than 30 points in each of its first 6 games.

2. Through five games, Eli Manning has been sacked 15 times and has thrown 12 interceptions. He’s already approaching his 2012 season totals in both categories (19 sacks and 15 interceptions).

In addition, his QBR (34.2) is less than half of what it was in 2012 (68.9).

Of the league-high 20 turnovers the Giants have this season, Manning has been responsible for 14, tied for the second most by a player through five games since realignment in 2002.

With two turnovers tonight, he’ll tie Daunte Culpepper in 2002 for the most turnovers through six games.

Manning is one of three starting quarterbacks this season completing under half of his attempts thrown at or behind the line of scrimmage. Both of the other quarterbacks (Brandon Weeden and Josh Freeman) were removed from their starting jobs.

3. Jay Cutler has been sacked three times in each of the last two games (both losses) after being sacked a total of three times in the Bears' 3-0 start.

In addition, he has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games for the first time since 2009. He’s never thrown for 300 yards in three straight games. Cutler has also thrown a TD pass in 11 straight games, tying a career high.

4. Brandon Marshall expressed frustration with the Bears offense after their Week 5 loss. He was targeted five times last week after averaging more than 10 targets in his first four games.

Marshall leads the Bears with 46 targets this season, but has just one more than the next highest receiver (Alshon Jeffery, 45).

Marshall finished with 131 more targets than the next highest Bear last season.

MISC
The Giants are last in the NFL in rushing at 56.8 YPG. They’ve rushed for under 100 yards in all five games this season.

The Bears have lost two straight following a 3-0 start. They’re 3-4 in their last seven home games since starting 2012 4-0 at home.

Despite forcing no turnovers last week, the Bears still lead the NFL with 58 takeaways since the start of 2012. Last week snapped Chicago’s streak of six straight games with at least three takeaways, the longest in the NFL since the Bills from 2004-05.

The Bears have lost four straight home games against the Giants since beating New York at Soldier Field in 1991.

Bears offense catching up to D’s greatness

September, 24, 2013
9/24/13
1:25
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AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhMarc Trestman is the 3rd coach in Bears history to win each of his first 3 games with the team.
The Chicago Bears jump into the top 5 of this week’s ESPN.com NFL Power Rankings following their third 3-0 start in the last 20 seasons.

New coach Marc Trestman joins George Halas and Neill Armstrong as the only coaches to win their first three games with the Bears.

Trestman was billed as an offensive-minded coach coming into Chicago, and his changes to the offense have made the Bears formidable on both sides of the ball.

Short and Sweet
The biggest change to the Bears’ offense this season has been the shortening of the passing game.

Last season Jay Cutler was one of two quarterbacks (Andrew Luck) with an average pass length 10 yards downfield. This season Cutler’s average pass has traveled 7.0 yards downfield, 27th in the NFL.

Cutler percent of attempts in 2012:



Cutler percent of attempts in 2013:


Shorter passes have led to more completions. Cutler has never completed more than 63.6 percent of his passes in a season, and has never been higher than 60.5 percent with the Bears. So far this season, Cutler has completed 67.3 percent of his passes.

The higher rate of completions is just one of the benefits to the shorter passing game.

Less Sacks
Shorter passes don’t take as long to develop which means Cutler has been able to get rid of the ball quicker.

This, along with some offseason improvements to the offensive line, have led to fewer sacks for Cutler.

From 2009 to 2012, Cutler was sacked on 7.6 percent of his dropbacks, the highest rate in the NFL. This season he’s been sacked on only 2.9 percent of his dropbacks, the second lowest rate in the NFL.

More Forte
Matt Forte has averaged 24 touches per game through the first three weeks of the season. If the season ended today, that would rank as the highest rate of his career.

Trestman has gotten the ball to Forte more on the ground, with his 18.3 rushes per game ranking as his second highest career rate.

But Cutler and Trestman have increased Forte’s involvement in the passing game as well.

Forte has 18 receptions through three games this season (6.0 rec per game). Through the first five seasons of his career, Forte averaged 3.6 receptions per game.

Forte’s increased presence in the passing game takes some of the pressure off of Brandon Marshall.

Last season Marshall was targeted on a league-high 41 percent of his pass routes. This season, only 30 percent (with only a slight drop in production, -0.7 receptions per game).

Some Things Haven’t Changed
Not everything has changed in Chicago, and the Bears’ defense is proof of that.

Chicago’s defense has continued to force turnovers and put points on the board. The Bears’ three defensive touchdowns lead the NFL and equal the offensive output from both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jacksonville Jaguars.

Urlacher always in the middle for the Bears

May, 22, 2013
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Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Brian Urlacher retired after 13 NFL seasons. He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and the Bears' all-time leading tackler, according to the team.
Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has announced his retirement after 13 NFL seasons. He’s one of four players in NFL history with 40 sacks and 20 interceptions (sacks became an official statistic in 1982).

He was an eight-time Pro Bowler and the all-time leading tackler in Bears history (according to the team).

He’s in the top 10 in franchise history in games played and sacks, and he’s tied for 11th in interceptions.

Urlacher is one of just seven players in NFL history to win the Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in his career.

Of the six others, three are in the Hall of Fame and two of the remaining three are still active players.

Hall-of-Famers Mike Singletary (10) and Walter Payton (nine) are the only Bears players with more Pro Bowl selections than Urlacher, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Urlacher’s value showed when he missed the last four games of the season in 2012, the Bears defense struggled.

Over the past four seasons, Chicago allowed a Total QBR of 39.5 with Urlacher on the field and a 60.1 Total QBR with Urlacher off the field.

During Urlacher's tenure with the Bears, which began in 2000, Chicago's defense was in the top five in the NFL in points per game, third-down percentage and takeaways.

Urlacher is part of a long line of elite linebackers the team has produced over the years. Look how he stacks up to some other Hall of Fame Bears linebackers.

Bears need Urlacher replacement and more

April, 23, 2013
4/23/13
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AP Photo/G. Newman LowranceNow that Brian Urlacher has left the building the Bears need to replace him.

After 13 seasons, 189 games and eight Pro Bowl selections, the Chicago Bears elected not to re-sign Brian Urlacher this offseason, leaving a big hole in the middle of the defense.

The Bears signed two linebackers in the offseason – D.J. Williams from Denver and James Anderson from Carolina – but both have primarily played on the outside and neither played more than half of their team’s defensive snap last season.

The Bears currently have five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, tied for the fewest in the league. If they do try to replace Urlacher in the draft, should they do it in the first round (20th overall)?

Any replacement for Urlacher – selected ninth overall in 2000 – will need to be able to impact both the run game and passing game.

Over the last five seasons, the Bears have allowed 16 more touchdowns than interceptions with Urlacher off the field, compared to 12 more interceptions than touchdowns with him on the field. They have also allowed half a yard more per rush with Urlacher off the field.

Urlacher is also one of four players in NFL history with 40 sacks and 20 interceptions. Sacks became an official stat in 1982.

In Mel Kiper Jr.’s most recent mock draft, he has the Bears selecting Notre Dame ILB Manti Te'o 20th overall.

Te’o defended 11 passes last season. Only two other inside linebackers were rated 80 or higher according to Scouts Inc. (Alec Ogletree, Georgia and Kevin Minter, LSU), and they combined to defend 12 passes last season. Te’o’s seven interceptions last season were also most by a linebacker since 2006.

Todd McShay sees inside linebacker with the same level of concern for the Bears. In McShay’s most recent mock draft, he has the Bears selecting Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree.

The Bears do have other needs, however, and could delay selecting a linebacker.

The Bears did add Martellus Bennett in free agency, but tight end was a major weakness for Chicago last season.

No team finished with fewer receptions from the tight end position than the Bears in 2012. Bears tight ends also dropped 15 percent of their targets last season, the highest drop rate in the NFL and nearly triple the league average at the position (5.4 percent).

Protecting Jay Cutler may be even a bigger priority than giving him someone to throw to though.

Chicago signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency, but still has a hole at right tackle. The Bears have allowed a sack once every 11.9 dropbacks since the start of 2011, the second-worst rate in the NFL.

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