ESPN released their first “win-rate” rankings, many Chicago Bears made the cut
In this SportsCenter-highlight era of the NFL, speed and shiftiness have quickly replaced power and grit. The more memorable, recent teams have been characterized through the ability to score and innovate through offense. But underlying that is a forgotten principle. The most successful teams generally share one trend: success in the trenches. And if ESPN’s Analytics hold weight, that bodes well for the Chicago Bears.
For the first time in 2020-21, ESPN released its tracking statistics relating to win rates among the offensive and defensive lines. A number of Bears players had cameos, highlighted by Khalil Mack’s brilliance, something that never quite fully gets articulated through a simple box score glance.
Mack took the No. 8 spot among defensive ends and outside numbers, “winning” 29 percent of his pass rushes. He built upon that, by taking the No. 1 spot in run stopping, at 52 percent. Heading into Week 3, Mack is the only player in the NFL with a rate higher than 50 percent.
Where do the Chicago Bears rank?
The Bears as a team own just the No. 14 rate, with a -16.0% DVOA, and have actually been statistically better against the pass. Though, it certainly helps to have both of them on the uptick.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bobby Massie is tied for the No. 1 spot in the NFL, a perfect 100 percent win rate. ESPN explains how “wins” are determined, but to re-explain, an offensive lineman “wins” if he is able to sustain his block for 2.5 or more seconds.
Defensive linemen like Mack “win” if they beat their block in that allotted time, or if they: (a) beat their blocker and get in a better position, (b) push their blocker backward, and disrupt the pocket or rushing lanes, (c) record a tackle within three yards of the line of scrimmage, (d) forces a runner to adjust his running lane. Sure enough, that describes what observers see Mack do to a tee.
James Daniels also made an appearance with a 98 percent win rate at guard and Cody Whitehair as the No. 8 ranked center in run blocking.
As a team, the Bears are:
— No. 15 in pass rushing
— No. 6 in run stopping
— No. 2 in pass blocking
— No. 5 in run blocking
Thinking about what that means historically, elite line play has been synonymous with success. The Eagles built their foundation through elite trench work on both sides, and those title-winning Patriots teams were known for their sound production between the gaps. The Chicago Bears are a team with fundamental flaws to fix going forward. But one benefit that’s played a key part in their 2-0 start — they’ve displayed toughness upfront.