A lot of people seem upset with the Chicago Bears pass rush lately. Given all the money the team has poured into the trio of Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, and Robert Quinn? One would think they have produced more by this point. As a team, they have 11 sacks on the season. That puts them at 15th in the NFL. Not a spot befitting their level of talent.
This has led to plenty of accusations that the Bears put their money in the wrong place. These guys are overpaid. The usual overreaction stuff. In reality, a closer inspection tells a different story.
One thing people often forget about the NFL is it might be the most situational sport in existence. Baseball is the only other one in the conversation. Part of creating a successful pass rush is having the right talent. However, another factor that is so often overlooked is being able to give that rush a lead on the scoreboard.
The Bears have not done this in 2020 much at all.
Here’s a stat breakdown that might shock you. In 2018, the Bears finished with 50 sacks on the year. That season the defense played a total of 698 snaps with a lead. They collected 42 of those sacks in those situations. By contrast, the defense this year has played 99 snaps with a lead across five games. That puts them on pace for 316 total for the entire season.
Of the 11 sacks the Bears have to this point, six have come when holding a lead. In other words, they have a sack every 16.5 snaps with a lead and a sack every 46.4 snaps when tied or trailing. Forcing the opponent to play from behind matters.
Chicago Bears pass rush is producing when given opportunities
This is a big reason why head coach Matt Nagy is upset. He knows what that pass rush is capable of and his offense hasn’t done a good job putting them in favorable situations all year. Slow starts have been a killer for the Bears all season. Just five touchdowns in the first half across five games. That is not good at all.
To say nothing of the fact they remain scoreless in the 3rd quarter this season.
It should serve as a reminder that dogging the pass rush isn’t entirely fair. They haven’t exactly gotten much help. Evidence is all over the place that this group gets after the quarterback when the quarterback has to take more chances. Playing from behind means more passing and more passing means more pass rush opportunities.
This isn’t rocket science. Chicago isn’t going to unlock the full potential of what they’ve built on defense until they start scoring more points. Hopes are high that this is a matter of time as Nagy and quarterback Nick Foles grow more comfortable with each other. The two have shown signs of finding a rhythm.
All that is left is putting the ball in the end zone. Once that happens, opposing quarterbacks better prepare their jerseys for grass stains after games.