Matt Marton/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears lack of scoring stems from ineptitude in red zone

Struggles in the red zone have doomed the Chicago Bears offense this season. Here's a closer look at what has gone wrong when the Bears have neared the end zone.

The Chicago Bears are 1-6 for a number of reasons, although not all of them are completely clear. In fact, based solely on the numbers, the Bears are an above-average NFL team. 

Despite numerous injuries, the Bears have a middle-of-the-pack defense nearly across the board. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's unit is ranked 17th overall, 16th against the pass, 17th against the rush and 20th in points allowed. 

Even with all the injuries, those numbers don't show a defense that is weighing down this team to a 1-6 level. 

Offensively, the Bears rank 16th in yards per game, 11th in passing yards per game and 15th in rushing yards per attempt. The offensive line has been very good the past month and the Bears currently rank 10th in the NFL in Pressure Rate Allowed (14 percent), per Football Outsiders. 

Turnovers haven't been an issue either, as the club's 9 total turnovers rank 15th in the league. 

Again, based purely on the numbers, you wouldn't think Chicago's offense is bad enough to warrant a 1-6 record. Special teams have been below average but not at a detrimental level, so what is the problem? 

While the numbers don't tell the entire story, the biggest problem for the Bears is red-zone offense. Despite moving the ball up and down the field almost at will from Weeks 3-6, the Bears currently rank dead last in the NFL in points per game (15.1). 

Between the 20s, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has been nearly unstoppable and the team ranks 10th in yards per drive (33.67). Yet when his unit nears pay dirt, everything seems to fall apart. The Bears are converting just 47.4 percent of their red zone trips into touchdowns (9 for 19), which ranks 27th in the league. 

The offense has not committed a red-zone turnover all season, so again, where have things gone wrong? 

The first culprit is Brian Hoyer. In four-plus starts this year, Hoyer is completing 67.0 percent of his pass attempts. In the red zone, that drops more than 20 percentage points to 46.7. Inside the 10-yard line, that drops to 45.5. Hoyer's indecision and inaccuracy inside the red zone has killed a number of promising drives. 

The second culprit is penalties. The Bears are averaging 7.9 penalties per game, 6th most in the NFL. Over the last three games, the team has averaged 10 penalties, second most in the league. That lack of discipline has carried over to the red zone, where the offense has committed three penalties. 

One penalty - a holding call on TE Logan Paulsen - took a TD off the board. The other two penalties - a false start on WR Kevin White and a 15-yard face mask on RB Jordan Howard - moved the ball back from the 1-yard line, both of which resulted in field goals. 

The third culprit is Loggains. In 19 trips to the red zone, he's called 37 pass plays and just 20 run plays. That's a near 2-to-1 ratio in the red zone, where throwing the ball is made harder due to the short field. 

This speaks to a larger problem with Loggains and his inability to create balance on offense. The Bears rank 30th in the NFL with 145 rushing attempt (and they've yet to have their bye week) which is a drastic 180-degree turnaround from last year's Adam-Gase-led offense, which ranked 6th in rushing attempts. 

Of those 56 red-zone plays, Loggains has called back-to-back runs just twice. Of the club's eight red-zone TDs, only three of them have come on the ground, two of which were 1-yard plunges set up by pass interference calls from opposing defenses. In fact, three of Chicago's eight red-zone TDs were the direct result of a fortuitous opposing PI calls.

The offensive line has allowed just one sack in the red zone, so protection is not the problem. This is a fundamental issue with Loggains and an execution issue with Hoyer. 

Hoyer is done for the year, so there's still hope for the Bears red-zone offense now that Jay Cutler is back under center. The Bears went 2-for-2 in Red Zone Efficiency in Week 1, the only game all season in which they finished with a 100-percent Red Zone Efficiency, and also the only game in which Cutler played for four quarters. 

Yet it won't matter who is under center until Loggains adjusts his play-calling strategy in the red-zone. His predictable play designs are not fooling opposing defensive coordinators, which is leaving the offense out to dry. 

The Bears have a solid offensive line and talent at the skill positions. The fact the offense is 32nd in the league in scoring is embarrassing, and that falls on Loggains. He must do his job better going forward, particularly inside the 20-yard line.


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