The Chicago Bears offensive line has been a work in progress this season. The new coaching staff moved Pro Bowler Kyle Long from right guard to right tackle late in the preseason and lost starting center Will Montgomery early in the regular season.
Chicago's front five has had issues in run blocking and protecting quarterback Jay Cutler, so it’s easy to see why the Bears have struggled this season. But one major stat really tells the tale.
The Bears entered last Sunday’s game against the Redskins with 27 holding penalties on the year. They committed four more against Washington, giving them an NFL-leading 31 holding penalties for a total of 295 yards lost. Aside from Buffalo, which has committed 30, the next closest teams are the Miami Dolphins and San Diego Chargers with 26.
Penalties have become a big problem for the Bears' offense. Most have been drive killers and we saw that again on Sunday. The Bears committed a holding penalty on the first drive, which resulted in a punt. Trailing 14-0, Chicago marched into Washington territory on their third offensive drive but ended up punting after they committed two key penalties that pushed them out of field goal range.
This will certainly be something the coaching staff will look to improve heading into next season.
Other stats of note
- Robbie Gould has now missed six field goals this season. It's the most field goals he's missed since missing six in his first year with the Bears in 2005.
- Chicago's secondary has improved as the season has progressed. They have only allowed three touchdowns to a wide receiver in their past six games.
- Alshon Jeffery’s 99.6 yards receiving per game are 4th most in the NFL.
- Quarterback Jay Cutler ranks 6th in NFL in interception percentage this season (58 percent). It would be the highest he’s finished in his Bears career.
- The Bears entered Sunday’s game as the only team without an offensive touchdown in the third quarter. They scored two TDs in the third quarter to break the streak.
- With injuries bugging the Bears receiving core, it’s allowed Cutler to spread the ball around a little more. This season the Bears have seven players who have more than 20 receptions, which is first time they’ve done that since 2001.
- The Bears will face a familiar foe again on Sunday as they travel to Minnesota to take on RB Adrian Peterson and the Vikings. Peterson has done well against the Bears in his career and has scored 14 touchdowns in 13 career games. That’s the most for Peterson against any team.
- Scoring more than 20 points in this rivalry seems to be key as of late. In the last 13 meetings, the winning team has scored more than 20 points 11 times.
- Winning division games are key to a successful season. The Bears will have another chance to win a divisional game this week but have struggled the last two years. They are 2-7 in their last nine divisional games, with two left this season.