Behind the Numbers: Bears offense

We analyze key statistics, trends and metrics for the Bears' offense heading into Sunday's contest against the Green Bay Packers, a game that will make or break Chicago's 2012 season.

Chicago Bears offensive rankings
Points scored: 14th (23.7)
Total offense: 28th (314.8)
Rushing offense: 10th (122.4)
Passing offense: 27th (192.5)


For the season, QB Jay Cutler has completed 59.8 percent of his passes, down slightly from his career average of 61.0 percent, for 2,495 yards, 16 TDs and 13 INTs. He's averaging 7.0 yards per attempt, down from 7.2 for his career, and throwing for a passer rating of 80.9, down from 84.1.

By all accounts, despite having Brandon Marshall to throw to, Cutler has had a disappointing season. He ranks 25th in the NFL in completions (213), 22nd in completion percentage, 24th in passing yards, 20th in average gain, 20th in TDs, 25th in interceptions and 34th in percentage of passes intercepted.

On the positive side, Cutler still leads the league in fourth-quarter passer rating at 127.1. Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is second in the league in fourth-quarter efficiency (110.9).

On third down, Cutler's 82.0 rating ranks 19th in the league. Rodgers' 110.2 rating on third down is third best.

Cutler vs. Green Bay: 7 games, 236 attempts, 130 completions, 1,567 yards, 8 TD, 15 INT, 60.5 QB rating.

WR Brandon Marshall
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports


WR Brandon Marshall has already broken Chicago's franchise record for single-season receptions (101), passing the mark set by Marty Booker (100) in 2001. The all-time best in single-season yardage is 1,400, set by Marcus Robinson in 1999. Marshall has 1,342 yards so far. Barring injury, he'll easy shatter Robinson's number over the next three games.

Marshall also has nine touchdowns, four short of the single-season record of 13 set by Dick Gordon (1970) and Ken Kavanaugh (1947). The most 100-yard games in a single season in Chicago is seven, set by Jeff Graham (1995), Harlon Hill (1954) and Kavanaugh (1947). Marshall has six in 2012, including two straight.

Marshall has a chance to break not only every single-season receiving record in the history of the Bears organization, he's on pace to shatter Chicago's all-time numbers as well. Most of those marks will fall by the time his contract is up following the 2014 season. If he signs an extension and retires in Chicago, he'll easily go down as the greatest wideout ever to play for the Bears.

Marshall vs. Green Bay: 3 games, 15 receptions, 225 yards, 15.0 average, 0 TD


It's easy to rack up receiving numbers when your quarterback looks to you on each and every play. Marshall is second in the league in total targets with 158, behind only the Colts' Reggie Wayne (162). The rest of the Bears receivers – Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Alshon Jeffery, Eric Weems and Dane Sanzenbacher – have a combined 122 targets.

Marshall's 101 catches (the most in the NFL) are also more than all the other wideouts combined (68). Even when you throw in the receptions of both RB Matt Forte and TE Kellen Davis, that number of catches is only seven more (108) than Marshall's total.

Hester vs. Green Bay: 12 games, 12 receptions, 203 yards, 16.9 average, 1 TD

Bennett vs. Green Bay: 6 games, 14 receptions, 163 yards, 11.6 average, 0 TD

Running backs

Matt Forte has carried the ball 192 times this season for 834 yards (4.3 average) with 3 TDs. As a receiver, he has caught 36 passes for 248 yards (6.9 average) with 1 TD.

There is a perception that Forte is having a down year. In reality, he's having the season we all should have expected from him. His yards per carry is better than his career average (4.2) while he has already matched his touchdown totals from last season. He's on pace for his first 1,000-yard season since 2010.

Down are his yards from scrimmage (1,082). After leading the league in that category for most of last season, before the knee injury, Forte has dropped to 22nd in the NFL this year. Yet that has more to do with Marshall monopolizing balls in the passing attack than it does in any type of deterioration in Forte's game.

RB Matt Forte
Tom Dahlin/Getty

On a related note, Marshall is 7th in the league in yards from scrimmage (1,342).

Forte vs. Green Bay: 8 games, 118 carries, 396 rushing yards, 3.4 average, 1 TD; 33 receptions, 288 receiving yards, 8.7 average, 0 TD.

First down

The Bears have 246 first downs this year – 143 by pass, 78 by rush, 25 by penalty – which is 23rd in the league. The offense is averaging 4.42 yards per play on first down, 31st in the NFL, ahead of only the Arizona Cardinals. Green Bay's defense is 7th best in the league in yards allowed (5.0) on first down. Marshall ranks 7th in the NFL with 66 total first downs.

Third down

Chicago has converted 73 of 182 third downs on the season. Their 40.1 conversion percentage is 22nd best in the NFL. Interestingly, Green Bay is allowing opponents to convert on third downs 40.1 percent of the time. The Bears have converted 50 percent on third downs over the past three games, so it's an area the offense has made strides.

Marshall leads the NFL in third down receptions (33), receiving yards (442) and touchdowns (5).

RB Michael Bush was signed, in part, to help Chicago in short-yardage situations. On 3rd and 1 this year, Bush has converted 7 of 9 attempts. His 77.8 conversion percentage is 16th best in the league.

Red Zone

The Bears have moved the ball into an opponent's red zone 36 times this season, posting 173 points from inside the 20. Of those 36 trips, the offense has scored 19 TDs, good for a 52.8 touchdown percentage, 17th best in the NFL. The Bears have scored 32 times from the red zone. That 88.9 scoring percentage is 12th best.

The Packers' defense gives up red zone TDs 62.2 percent of the time, 4th worst in the league.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.

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