Are you guys ready for an offensive explosion from the 2019 Chicago Bears? I know I am, but the odds of the Bears’ offense making a jump to the top of the 2019 leader boards is fairly slim. Don’t get me wrong, I’m expecting this group to pick up the pace from a year ago, but if you’re looking for some historically great output, think again.
Last year the Bears ranked twentieth in the all-important DVOA category from Football Outsiders. If you aren’t too familiar with DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average), you can get more info on the metric here, but the in a nut-shell version is that “DVOA measures a team's efficiency by comparing success on every single play to a league average based on situation and opponent.” It’s basically much deeper than simply looking at the team stats for yards, averages, and scoring. But if you wanted to simply look at the numbers, then the Bears offense ranked twenty-first in the NFL in total yards, twenty-first in passing yards, and eleventh in rushing yards.
When looking at the season per play averages the Bears didn’t fare much better. They were twentieth in yards per play, seventeenth in yards per pass play, and twenty-sixth in yards per rush. In the scoring touchdowns department, the Bears ranked fourteenth in passing TDs and seventh in rushing TDs.
There’s no doubt there’s plenty of room for the offense -- in the second year of head coach Matt Nagy’s system -- to grow. The catalyst for the growth will come down to whether or not third year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky takes a step up in his play. For the record, I fully expect him to do that, and history backs me up. I went back and pulled the numbers from quarterbacks in the second year of an Andy Reid offensive system, which is the west coast offensive system where Nagy and several other head coaches have come from, and Trubisky is definitely due for a jump in play. His knowledge and familiarity in the scheme gives him an edge over where he was a year ago. Not to mention the slew of new pass catchers the team was breaking in for the 2018 season.
During the 2018 season, Trubisky averaged 230 passing yards per game and his passer rating was 95.4. He threw 24 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, and his yards per pass attempt was 7.4. If Trubisky takes an average jump in play from where he was a year ago, that would boost his passer rating up approximately eleven points, which would place him in the top ten at his position. Now passer rating isn’t the be all end all of stats, but it is a good starting point to try and reverse engineer a 2019 statistical projection. I’ll only go with a jump in passer rating of 4.6 points for Trubisky, which places him at an even 100. That would have been good for tenth in the league in 2018, and a six place move up from Trubisky’s sixteenth ranking a year ago.
With the Bears running game severely upgraded in terms of potential impact, I’m not expecting Trubisky to throw significantly more than he did in 2018, but I do expect Nagy to call a few more pass plays each game. If the offense is clicking they’ll be able to get in and out of the huddle with more tempo, which will allow them to run more plays, and they should be able to sustain more drives.
More overall offense means more overall touches for Trubisky.
Keep in mind that these projections will all be for a full sixteen game season, so here’s where I have Trubisky in 2019. The parentheses next to each projection is where the number would have ranked in 2018.
Attempts: 585 - (7th)
Completions: 399 - (5th)
Comp %: 68.2 - (9th)
Yards: 4,387 - (7th)
Yards per game: 274.2 - (10th)
Yards per attempt: 7.5 - (16th)
Touchdowns: 32 - (tied for 6th)
TD %: 5.5 - (12th)
Interceptions: 11 - (tied for 15th)
Int %: 1.8 - (tied for 10th))
Passer rating: 100.0 - (10th)
So I’m looking for a jump into the top ten in most categories, and I think that’s a fair expectation considering he’s entering year two of the Nagy system along with wide outs Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and tight end Trey Burton, plus do-it-all running back Tarik Cohen.
Next time out I’ll give my projections for the ball carriers on the offense for the 2019 Chicago Bears.