It’s time to put a big bow around the Chicago Bears’ Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals before we move on to the Week 2 opponents, the Minnesota Vikings. Let’s look at the stats sheet and have the experts at ProFootball Focus weigh in on how they graded the Bears.
Before we dive into the hardcore stats, let’s just look at the Gamebook for some of the basics. On offense, the Bears were 3/3 in the Red Zone and 1/1 in goal-to-go situations. That speaks volumes about the improvements on that side of the ball. If Trestman does nothing else but improves the Bears’ Red Zone efficiency, he will be a rock star. Last season, the Bears only managed a 50% scoring efficiency in the Red Zone, good enough to rank 24th. Tops in the league was Green Bay, by the way, which hit on over 68% of their attempts.
Another big area for the Bears was third down efficiency. In the first half, a half most would like to forget, the Bears went 2 out of 8 on third down attempts, a 25% conversion rate. In the second half, they went 4 out of 6 on third downs. A lot of that comes back to Trestman and Cutler. Trestman pushing the right buttons and Cutler closing the deal and executing.
On the other side of the ball, the defense did not fare as well. The Bengals finished the day converting 7 out of 11 third down conversions, 7 out of 9 in the first three quarters before the Bears woke up and shut them down in the fourth quarter. Third downs have been killer for the Bears’ D in recent years and it’s up to Mel Tucker to turn that around.
As we’ve grown accustomed, the Bears D came through with big takeaways when it mattered most. Winning the turnover battle will continue to be an important aspect for this Bears defense.
The last category on the stat sheet that jumped out at me were the penalties. The Bears were assessed 4 penalties for 59 yards while the Bengals committed 8 penalties for 84 yards, including a couple of really costly personal fouls. Of note, the offense did not have any pre-snap penalties, an area which plagued them and consistently put them behind the chains in years gone by.