Chicago Bears vs Philadelphia Eagles Preview: Inside the Numbers

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Head coach Chip Kelly faced an immense amount of pressure from traditional NFL analysts for his tempo-intensive offense that seemed best-suited for the college game. Coach Kelly appears to have had the last laugh as his offense ranks third in the league with a (103.8) grade. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this story is that it is Nick Foles, not Michael Vick, who’s steered the offense despite his average physical skill-set. Most pundits pegged Vick as the ideal candidate to control the up-tempo, read-option attack that Kelly made famous at the University of Oregon. Instead, Foles has kept the Eagles in contention with his Top 5 PFF QB rating of (95.84). Foles owns the league’s best average yards per pass attempt at (9.02). This, of course, spells trouble for the consistently out-of-position Chris Conte and Major Wright. Expect Foles to look for wide receiver Desean Jackson often. The Pro Football Focus “Yards per Route Run” figure takes into account the number of snaps a player went into a pattern, providing a better indicator of production than Yards per Reception or even Yards per Target. Mr. Jackson ranks third in the NFL behind just Calvin Johnson and Josh Gordon in YPRR at (2.62). As good as Foles and Jackson have been, running back Lesean McCoy has been simply outstanding. McCoy’s (23.9) overall grade outpaces all other running backs, and the race isn’t necessarily even close. “Shady” has forced 65 missed tackles on the year, second best behind Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch. McCoy’s (21.9) run grade is 8.9 points higher than the second rusher, Adrian Peterson. Clearly, then, the Bears’ league worst rush defense (-113.9) will have its hands full against the leagues best rush offense (27.2).

The Bears have the league’s sixth best overall offense with a (74.6) grade. By comparison, Chicago had the league’s third worst offense at (-35.8) in 2012. The turnaround should receive more attention than it does on both the local and national media level. Unfortunately, as great as the offensive upswing has been, the defensive degradation has been inversely encouraging. In 2012, the Bears had the NFL’s fourth best defensive grade at (80.7). This year, the once proud Monsters of the Midway have an amazingly terrible (-143.7) grade. Again, the differential is simply astounding. The Bears hope that the return of Lance Briggs will at least ensure that rookie Jon Bostic will line up in the correct position. #55’s return should also take some pressure off the safeties to make open field tackles, since Briggs possesses the ability to wrap up ball carriers, allowing the rest of the defense to swarm soon thereafter. Will Briggs’ return be enough to slow down the Eagles high flying offense? Probably not, but at least Chicago has demonstrated the ability to put points on the board almost at will.