Chicago Bears Insider: By the Numbers

Bryan DietzlerSenior Analyst IJune 13, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 23:  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is hit by Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears in the helmet as Peppers was called for a personal foul in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship Game at Soldier Field on January 23, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If you are like me you might like to use numbers to determine just how good or bad things are or perhaps how good or bad they might get.  The NFL is a paradise for any fan that is interested in numbers and using them to determine just how good or bad a player is or a team is.

When it comes to the Chicago Bears, we all love looking at the numbers that tell us just how good their offense is compared to other offenses in the NFL.  We may want to see how many interceptions quarterback Jay Cutler has compared to other NFL quarterbacks.  Maybe we want to know how the Bear’s defense did in their game against the Patriots as compared against their game against the Jet’s (from 2010).

Numbers are a great thing and they help us understand football better.

So let’s take a look at a few numbers from both the 2009 and the 2010 season and what they mean for the Bears heading into the new 2011 season.

On Offense

The Bears were ranked 30th in the NFL in overall offense, ranking 22nd in rushing and 28th in passing.  It was clear to see that the Bears had their problems on offense even though there were points in the season (such as their second game against the Vikings and that game against the Jets) that their offense looked pretty good.  But we can’t forget those games where the offense was basically stagnant.

Games like those against the Patriots, the second Green Bay game and the Bear’s game against the Redskins showed us that the Bears offense had a lot of work to do in order to be effective.

Believe it or not, Cutler’s 2010 season, although seemingly better on its face was similar to his 2009 season.  In 2009, Cutler had a completion percentage of 60.5 while in 2010 his completion percentage was 60.4.  He threw more passes in 2009 (555) than he did in 2010 (532) and completed more in 2009 (336) than he did in 2010 (261).  He had four more touchdown passes in 2009 (27) than he did in 2010 (23) but his interception total went from 26 to 16.

Cutler should improve over his numbers from last year in 2011 thanks to another year in offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s offense.  But the lack of a number one wide receiver may mean that Cutler won’t be that productive or effective. 

Matt Forte had an off year in 2009 rushing for just 929 yards on 258 carries for an average of 3.6 yards per carry.  He also caught 57 passes for 471 yards in 2009 and had an overall total of four touchdowns.  In 2010, Forte ended up with 1069 rushing yards on 237 attempts with a hefty average of 4.5 yards per carry.  He also had 547 yards on 51 catches and accrued a total of nine touchdowns.

Needless to say Forte had a much better season in 2010 and this helped lead the Bears deep into the playoffs.  If he can stay healthy, Forte should be able to match and even beat his numbers from last season (in 2011) but a lot of that will be contingent on just how often he is used and how well the Bear’s offensive line performs. 

The Bears came into the 2011 season without that true number one wide receiver and this resulted in Cutler and the rest of the Bears offense struggling.  The player that many have considered to be the number one wide receiver on the Bears (but he’s clearly not) is Devin Hester.  Hester’s numbers in 2009 for catches were 57 for 757 yards and just three touchdowns.

His numbers in 2010 actually decreased as he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and four touchdowns.  Those aren’t the numbers of number one wide receiver by any means.

One thing positive about Hester’s numerical performance this year was the number of returns for touchdowns that he had.  In 2009, Hester failed to return a single punt or kickoff for a touchdown but in 2010, Hester had no touchdowns on kickoff returns but did get three touchdowns on punt returns.  He ended up breaking the NFL record for returns for touchdowns as well as helped his team win some games.

His performance has a direct link to the fact that his use as a “number one” wide receiver was decreased in order to help him on special teams.  If the Bears do that again in 2011 Hester may see additional success in returns but can the Bears afford to take him out of the lineup as a wide receiver on offense?  Especially since they don’t have a number one wide receiver?


The Bears were ranked 9th overall in total defense and had a ranking of 20th in the passing game and second in rushing.  Compare that to the 2009 season where the defense was ranked 17th overall with a ranking of 13th against the pass and 23rd against the rush.

The Bears defense improved overall when compared to the 2009 season and that can be attributed to several factors. With the return of linebacker Brian Urlacher and the addition of defensive end Julius Peppers the Bears defense got better and helped lead them to several wins.  This combination should help Chicago’s defense be tough again in 2011. 

The Bears defense earned 35 sacks in 2009 and 34 in 2010.  It was interesting how they went down one sack despite the improvements that they made on defense during the offseason with Peppers.

In the secondary, that group managed to get 21 interceptions in 2010 while they had 13 in 2009.  This can be attributed to the increased pass rush and quite possibly even to the addition of safety Chris Harris to the lineup.  Will the secondary be able hold up this coming season or will their play digress and give the Bears problems?

As you can see, it’s all about the numbers