Chicago Bears: Predicting Top Offensive, Defensive Stat Leaders for 2012 Season
There are lies, damn lies and statistics. In the NFL, stats aren't like other sports. While the addition of advanced metrics in football hasn't quite arrived at the level of sabermetrics in baseball, sites such as Football Outsiders have started changing the way we measure our stars in the game.
And, for the first time, fans and writers will be able to watch the coaches' game film via NFL Game Rewind if you decide to plunk down the $34.99 for the Bears film, $39.99 for all teams, or $69.99 to include the postseason games.
Now we will be able to see with our own eyes how many tackles Brian Urlacher makes as opposed to the often-inflated numbers the team provides.
Of course, metrics like sacks, rushing yards, touchdowns and QB efficiency ratings are known to most every fan. I will try to introduce a couple of the more advanced stats here in this article, but for the most part we will be focusing on the common numbers.
So let's try to extrapolate the numbers to see what 2012 may look like for some of the key Bears in what we all hope is a championship season.
Jay Cutler, if healthy for the full season, is expected to put up some big numbers in the new offense. While traditional measurements should tell the tale, I promised I would introduce some of the more advanced metrics, like DYAR, or Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement.
As explained by Football Outsiders, DYAR "gives the value of the quarterback's performance compared to replacement level, adjusted for situation and opponent and then translated into yardage." If you're into baseball, DYAR can be roughly equated to WAR, or Wins Above Replacement.
Its cousin, DVOA, is Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. This number represents value, per play, over an average quarterback in the same game situations.
In 2011, Cutler ranked 21st in DYAR, behind his backup, Jason Campbell. But no matter which value you assign to the QB rating, I believe that Cutler will be in the top 10 of the NFL this season.
Jay Cutler: 2012 Prediction
DYAR: 1,500 (this would have been good for fifth in the NFL last season)
DVOA: 31% (last year Cutler was at 3.8%)
Passing Yards: 4,500
Passer Efficiency Rating: 97.2
Matt Forte will likely hold out until the season starts, but I expect him to stay in shape. Whether the lack of football contact will hurt him or not is a legitimate question, but I feel he will be the Bears' statistical leader among running backs.
In fact, while his impact should be diminished as he will not be as much of a part of the total offense this year, he will still top 1,000 yards rushing if healthy.
Michael Bush is a very capable back, but his value will be felt more in goal-line and third-down situations. I expect Bush to have more touchdowns this season than Forte.
Kahlil Bell will put up a 4.6 yards per carry average, so he will contribute too. But overall, Forte will be the Bears' production leader here, although he will not lead the league in any categories, in my opinion.
Matt Forte: 2012 Prediction
Wide Receiver and Tight End
New acquisition Brandon Marshall can say all he wants about Devin Hester having better receiving numbers than him, but Marshall was brought in to lead the team in catches and yards, and I believe he will do just that.
Meanwhile, the tight end will be used to actually catch passes, and if Kellen Davis turns out to be good at doing that (I'm still not sold on him), he could end up with 40 or more balls.
Brandon Marshall: 2012 Prediction
Marshall ranked 16th among wideouts in DYAR in 2011, and being teamed up with old pal Cutler once again, I think he will be even better this year. While his number of catches will be his lowest total since his rookie year, he will have more yards and TDs than he ever has.
Kellen Davis: 2012 Prediction
The main statistic associated with the defensive end position is sacks ( I know—thank you, captain obvious). If the Bears can get a good push from their interior linemen and if rookie Shea McClellin can rush the passer as advertised, Julius Peppers may get even more sacks than he has as a Chicago Bears player.
Last year, while he was inconsistent at times, Henry Melton had a breakout season and tied for third in the league in sacks for a tackle. This year, however, I expect the time to be split more evenly with second-year pro Stephen Paea, who I really like.
In fact, while Peppers will lead the team in sacks again, I have Paea with more QBs pressures and sacks than Melton this year.
At linebacker, Brian Urlacher will overtake his teammate Lance Briggs and lead the team in tackles.
Julius Peppers: 2012 Prediction
Stephen Paea: 2012 Prediction
Brian Urlacher - 2012 Prediction
Interceptions are the way in which cornerbacks are most often compared, at least in terms of stats. But Charles Tillman, who made his first-ever Pro Bowl in 2011, is a master at stripping the football. This endears him to Lovie Smith, who preaches that on an almost daily basis.
The secondary is one of the two weakest areas for the Bears (the offensive line, while it will probably be improved this season, is the other area). Tim Jennings will likely start opposite Tillman, but that could change as the season goes on.
At safety, the Bears seem set with Chris Conte at the free position, but strong safety is up for grabs. Personally, I think that Craig Steltz will steal the job away initially, with Brandon Hardin the eventual starter. Steltz played well when forced into action late last season, but he's not the answer long-term. Then again, neither is Major Wright, unless he can provide better coverage.
Charles Tillman: 2012 Prediction
How many touchdowns will Devin Hester score this season? While I can only guess at this point, I guarantee his value will be felt a lot more as a return man that as a receiver, "Devin package" or not.
If he is healthy, he should be able to return both punts and kicks. Last season Hester had a fairly even split, with 33 kickoff returns and 28 punt returns. He scored one TD on kick returns and two TDs on punt returns. His nearest competitor on the team was Johnny Knox, who may not play at all in 2012.
However, this year, Hester may not return many kicks. He will still be the primary punt returner, but, as Rotoworld reports, "His kickoff-return chores will depend on how the game is going and how many touches he's getting on offense."
Eric Weems and Devin Thomas will compete for the primary kick return job.
Devin Hester: 2012 Prediction
Punt ATT: 34
Punt YDS: 490
Punt TDs: 3
Eric Weems: 2012 Prediction
Kick ATT: 32
Kick YDS: 320
Kick TDs: 1
Punting and Kicking
The players here are pretty obvious, as there will be no competition for either Robbie Gould or Adam Podlesh. Both did a fine job last year, and both are among the best at what they do.
Robbie Gould: 2012 Prediction
Adam Podlesh - 2012 Prediction
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