Dannehy: Bears Offense Closer Than You Think

| December 15th, 2021

Stop if you’ve heard this before, but the Chicago Bears are good quarterback play away from having a really good offense.

As thoughts of sweeping changes in Halas Hall flood the minds of Chicago Bears fans, the reality is that the offense isn’t as far away from being good as most think. The season totals probably aren’t even as dreadful as they look; they’d be 22nd in yards per game without their 47-yard performance. That game was a part of a five-week clunk fest in which the Bears didn’t do a heck of a lot well on offense.

But we have seen some considerable progress since.

In Fields’ last four games, the Bears have averaged 36.4 yards per drive. That mark would be tied for the sixth-best in the entire league. They have also averaged two points per drive, a mark that would be tied for 20th.

Not great, but certainly not as awful as some have reported.

There’s more to this though, with Andy Dalton at quarterback, the Bears have averaged 40.6 yards per drive — a mark that would be the best in the league — and 1.98 points per drive, 21st. Since Halloween, the Bears offense is 16th in EPA per play.

What this tells us is that when the Bears have had adequate quarterback and offensive line play — which they mostly have since Halloween — they’ve moved the ball. But the quarterbacks need to take better care of the football if the team is going to score more points.

In the last four games, Fields has led 33 drives and has managed to turn the ball over on more than 18 percent of those. Of course, we also have the four-interception clunker from Andy Dalton against Arizona.

It isn’t just that the quarterbacks are turning the ball over. Some of them have cost them points. Dalton has three interceptions in which the team was in easy scoring position; one of which wasn’t his fault as it went right through Cole Kmet’s arms.  If the Bears had merely settled for field goals instead of those interceptions and made a relatively easy kick that was missed, they would’ve averaged 2.6 points per drive with Dalton. That would be the fifth-best mark in the league.

Yes, they were that close to having a really good offense with Dalton.

Fields’ turnovers have generally come earlier in the drives, but have hurt nonetheless.  Had Cairo Santos made a 40-yard field goal against Baltimore, the Bears would be averaging 2.1 points per drive in Fields’ last four games, that would put them right behind Minnesota and ahead of Las Vegas.

Of course, we don’t live in a world of hypotheticals. The bottom line is that the Bears have to limit the turnovers, especially when they’re in position to score. We know this is who Dalton is. We expect Fields to eliminate the mistakes by the start of next year.

It’s too little, too late for Matt Nagy. We saw his offense take off at the end of last year only for it to sputter at the start of this year so there’s no reason to count on him to build it into a really good unit. But his replacement might be walking into a pretty good situation.

Assuming Fields takes a similar jump that most other young quarterbacks take and the team can find upgrades at wide receiver and center, the team is in a good spot to take a huge jump on offense.

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