Bears Behind the Numbers: Week 3

We analyze Chicago's key statistics and metrics on offense, defense and special teams to give us a better idea of what's working and in what areas the team needs to improve.

Offense

Two-week offensive rankings
Total: 27th (298 yards per game)
Rush: 17th (104)
Pass: 26th (194)
Points scored: 14th (25.5)

-First down: Chicago has 37 first downs through two games. They've run the ball 11 times, passed 22 times and had four penalties. Throwing 66.7 percent of the time on first down is not the type of offense Bears coaches have discussed this year under OC Mike Tice. In fact, that percentage is downright Mike-Martz-like. This has resulted in 150 total yards on first down, which is dead last in the NFL.

Tice and Lovie Smith have paid lip service all year about the need to establish the run but are yet to carry that over onto the game field. The club needs to start pounding the rock early to establish an effective play action.

-Third down: The Bears offense is nine of 27 on third downs this year. That 33.3 conversion percentage is 21st in the NFL. The club needs to find a way to convert in those situations and keep drives alive.

-Red zone: Chicago is six for six scoring in the red zone – four touchdowns, two field goals. The offense is converting near the goal line but that stat is a bit misleading, as they never even entered the red zone against the Green Bay Packers.

-Sacks: The Bears have allowed 9.0 sacks this season, second worst in the league. The offensive line ranks 31st in sacks per pass play. Last week, the constant pressure sent QB Jay Cutler over the edge. Keeping him clean is vital to the success of the offense.

-Pass blocking: According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Chicago's offensive line has allowed 24 total pressures (sacks + hits + hurries) in 72 total pass plays. That 73.3 percent pass blocking efficiency ranks 27th in the NFL.

-Hurries: According to PFF, RT Gabe Carimi leads the Bears' offensive line in hurries allowed (8), followed by LG Chris Spencer (4), LT J'Marcus Webb (3), C Roberto Garza (1). Somewhat surprising has been the solid pass blocking of RG Lance Louis, who has not allowed a single sack, hit or hurry. While Webb has received the brunt of criticism so far, it's Carimi that truly must step up his game going forward.

-Fourth quarter passer: Cutler has an overall passer rating of 58.5, which is 30th in the NFL. He's at his worst on third down, where his rating falls to 44.7. He has gotten better in the fourth quarter, though, posting a 93.0 QB rating through two games.

-3rd and 1: RB Michael Bush, who will start Sunday in place of the injured Matt Forte (ankle) is 3-3 converting on 3rd and 1, the most conversions in the league. Short yardage, the bane of Chicago's offense the past few seasons, is no longer an issue with Bush in the fold.

-YAC: WR Brandon Marshall leads all Chicago receivers in yards after the catch (27). Yet that ranks 41st among wide receivers in the NFL, according to PFF. Bears pass catchers are a talented group but they must start making bigger plays.

Defense

Two-week defensive rankings
Total: 14th (338.5 yds per game)
Rush: 9th (84.5)
Pass: 21st (254)
Turnover ratio: 7th (+2)

-Pass rush: Chicago ranks second in the league in sacks (8.0) and fourth in sacks per opposing pass play. Henry Melton's 3.0 sacks are second best in the NFL.

-Takeaways: Chicago's defense has forced seven turnovers turnovers this year, which is tied for the most in the league. This should come as a surprise to no one, as the club annually is one of the best at creating turnovers.

-Red zone: Opponents have scored four times in seven trips to the red zone against the Bears' defense, a 57.1 scoring percentage, which is second best in the NFL. The defense is giving up yards but they are being stout when it counts.

-Third down: Opposing offenses have converted just six third down attempts, the second fewest conversions in the league. Chicago's 25.0 percent conversion rate against is third best in the league. Again, the defense has been at its best on plays that count the most.

-Interceptions: CB Tim Jennings currently leads the NFL with three interceptions. His previous single-season high in picks was two, which he accomplished in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Opposing quarterbacks have a paltry 19.7 passer rating when throwing at Jennings. As a team, the Bears' four interceptions (S Chris Conte picked off the fourth) rank 6th in the league.

-Nickelback: CB D.J. Moore has gotten off to a slow start. After not allowing a touchdown last season, he's already given up one score through just two games. In addition, quarterbacks have a 123.4 passer rating when throwing at Moore.

-Safeties: SS Major Wright has started as inconsistently as he finished last season. He has been thrown at eight times, allowing six completions. He must improve on that 75 percent catch rate. Opposing QBs have a passer rating of 98.4 when throwing at Wright. On the other hand, FS Chris Conte has continued his solid play, having given up just two completions all season – although one of those went for a score.

-Man in the middle: LB Brian Urlacher is still recovering from offseason knee surgery and so far has not looked like the Pro Bowl player he's been throughout his career. In fact, of the 44 qualifying middle linebackers, PFF ranks Urlacher third worst at his position through two games. He has struggled against both the run and the pass. At this point, he's just a north-south player and cannot move laterally.

-End game: DE Israel Idonije ranks 12th amongst 4-3 defensive ends against the run, according to PFF. Stopping the run has always been Izzy's strength and, even at 31 years old, he shows no signs of slowing down.

The best pass rusher amongst Bears defensive ends, according to PFF, has been Corey Wootton, who has a QB sack, hit and hurry, as well as two tackles, in just 54 snaps. Rookie Shea McClellin has 2.0 sacks, a hit and a hurry in just 60 snaps. The production of those two players has given the Bears a deep defensive end rotation.

Special teams

Special teams rankings
Average starting field position: 6th (24.7 yard line)
Opponent avg. starting field position: 10th (20.1 yard line)
Kickoff average: 6th (26.5 yards per return)
Opponent kickoff average: 5th (18.8 yards per return)
Net punting: 15th (41.9 per punt)
Net punt return: 18th (10.3 yards per return)
Opponent punt return: 9th (7.0 yards per return)

-Hester: KR/PR Devin Hester is the only Bears player to return a punt or kick this season. His 26.5 yards per kickoff return ranks 12th in the league, while his 10.3 yards per punt return ranks 18th.

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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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