With the Chicago Bears currently sitting at 2-9 in what has turned into a disappointing season, there have been some bright spots.
Chicago’s offense has struggled to score points this season but they have done one thing right: run the ball.
The Bears are currently fifth in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 98.5 through 12 weeks. They do lead the NFC North with that average, beating out the Green Bay Packers who are second in the division at 98.2.
Despite being fifth in rushing yards per game, Chicago is near the bottom in attempts per game. They rank 30th with an average of 21.9 attempts per contest, as they have fallen behind a lot this season.
That rushing attack has been spearheaded by the emergence of rookie Jordan Howard, who continues to run strong and through contact.
Through 12 games this season, only one other running back has more yards after contact than Howard.
The 2016 fifth-round pick is averaging 2.3 yards per carry after contact this season, trailing only Miami’s Jay Ajayi (2.4). Howard’s ability to run through tackles and absorb big hits has allowed him to rack up some big yards after contact.
Howard is averaging 5.1 yards per carry this season and with 766 rushing yards, he’s closing in on the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He'll need to average 46.8 yards per game over the final five weeks to reach the 1,000-yard plateau.
Only three other NFL running backs are averaging more yards per carry this season. Ajayi and Mark Ingram are averaging 5.3 yards per carry, while Buffalo’s LeSean McCoy is averaging 5.2 yards per carry. That's it.
As the season continues to wind down and the needs grow for the Bears on offense, at least they have found their future at the running back position.
Other stats of note
- According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears had a total of 10 drops in Week 12 against the Tennessee Titans. That’s the most in 10-plus years. Prior to the game, the Bears dropped a combined 11 passes in 10 games.
- The rookie Howard has struggled in the receiving game this season. He has a total of 7 drops this year. Five players are tied for second with a total of 6 dropped passes.
- Chicago gave up 5.1 yards per carry in the loss to the Titans on Sunday, due in large part to the scrambling ability of Marcus Mariota. That was the most they’ve given up in a single game this season.
- The Bears didn’t give up a sack to the Titans, protecting Matt Barkley in his first NFL start. They are 10th in the NFL with 22 sacks given up through 11 games.
- Barkley attempted 54 passes in his NFL debut, completing 28 of those attempts for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was the third-most passing attempts in franchise history and the most for a Bears quarterback making his first NFL start.
- The Bears are averaging just 16.2 points per game this season, which is 31st in the NFL. Only the Los Angeles Rams (15.5) are averaging fewer points per contest.
- One big thing the Bears struggle with consistently is time of possession. The Bears average time of possession is 28:02, which is 29th in the NFL this season. The 49ers are dead last in the NFL at 26:33.
- QB Jay Cutler was the 16th Bears player to land on IR this season. If he has played his last game with the team, he will finish 51-51 in 8 seasons as the team's starting quarterback.
- Chicago's 16 players on IR are second most in the league, behind only the Chargers (18).