It’s hard not to reminisce about the 2018 Chicago Bears defense. So many things came together that year. A swirling maelstrom of talent at all three levels that terrorized opposing offenses. Not only could they stop the run and sack quarterbacks. They also created turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers. They were the best in the league by a wide margin, allowing just 283 points on the year. A huge reason the team finished 12-4 and won the division.
Sadly their efforts were wasted. Despite giving up just 16 points against the defending Super Bowl champions in the wild card round, a rough offensive showing and a missed field goal ended their season. So it’s difficult for the wider mainstream to appreciate how great that unit was. So imagine the surprise when Pro Football Focus, the analytics-based company that has a reputation for disrespecting the franchise, had the highest of praise for it.
How high? According to their Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, the Bears 2018 defense was the second-best of the entire 2010s decade. Beating out both the 2017 Jacksonville Jaguars and the mighty 2013 Seattle Seahawks as well. Only the Super Bowl-winning 2015 Denver Broncos were better.
Chicago Bears should be proud being mentioned in conversation
Needless to say, this is a statement that is not going to garner rousing support from a lot of people. Being ranked ahead of the Seahawks, in particular, is bound to receive backlash. They gave up far fewer points in 2013 and won the Super Bowl by dominating the best offense in NFL history. Then again they were aided by the presence of a Pro Bowl quarterback in Russell Wilson and a dominant ground game led by Marshawn Lynch. The Bears offense in 2018 was okay but nowhere near as capable.
There is no doubt the defense carried the team that year. There were a number of games they pretty much won by themselves. Either way, that unit deserves recognition. It wasn’t good. It was great. One that deserved better than a wild card playoff exit. Hopefully, they can get some redemption this season.