The Bears' offense is talking like it’s going to become more of a force, and it already was a big deal.
The basis for this confidence and optimism was progress borne of continuity, as detailed in our story by Dan Wiederer.
Bears offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer called last year’s offseason program “like rookie minicamp with veterans’’ as the new staff installed the new playbook that featured this newfangled thing called “offense.’’
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Come on, say it with me: Off-ense.
Last season, the Bears' offense ranked among the top five in average points, yards and time of possession per drive, according to footballoutsiders.com. Now the coaches and players on that side of the ball are talking about becoming even better.
And they will. And you know why?
Because the Bears' defense will be better, that’s why.
The Bears' defense will stop people. How do I know that? Because the Bears' defense cannot be any worse. Against the run or the pass, it cannot be any worse. The Bears were disastrously bad. The worst imaginable.
So, if the defense isn’t total garbage like last season, then it will get off the field quicker and more often, thus making the offense more dangerous.
The Bears' defense ranked 30th in average time of possession per drive at 2:47, and that’s despite having an above-average takeaway rate.
You knew the defense stunk. This is just another way of showing it.
Here’s another way: The highly ranked Bears' offense averaged just one second per drive more than the inept defense.
But wait. There’s more. The Bears' defense ranked dead stinkin’ last in average yards allowed per drive and 31st in both average points allowed per drive and average success rate per drive, which measures the percentage of drives that result in a first down or touchdown.
The defense was so bad that the Bears finished with a minus net result in all of those categories despite the offense’s ranking fourth, fifth and fifth.
The Bears' defense was about 12 yards worse per drive than the NFL’s best, which, surprisingly, was Buffalo. In average points per drive, the Bears' defense was exactly twice as bad as Seattle’s top-ranked 1.22.
That might not sound like much, but do the math: 172 drives against the Bears' defense times 1.2 points equals 206.4 points more than the Seahawks. Today’s football version of “Sesame Street’’ is brought to you by the letters P and U.
What’s more, the Bears' defense recorded the second-fewest three-and-outs and allowed the second-highest number of touchdowns on average per drive.
OK, I’m done with the horrifying numbers. I think the Bears' defense is done with them, too.
It’s entirely possible the Bears' offense plummets this season because that’s what happens in the NFL sometimes. It makes no sense, but it happens for the same reasons that half the teams that make the playoffs one season proceed to miss them the next.
The Bears were one of the teams that missed the playoffs last season. Perhaps you remember why. Yes, a pathetic defense at its most pathetic at the worst possible time, right, Chris Conte?
But the Bears’ defense got better without playing. At the start of organized team activities, which are pretty much gym class for millionaire jocks, it still was shocking to see Jared Allen with a Bears helmet. Happy shocking. There’s your pass rusher that Julius Peppers fraudulently portrayed last season.
Then there are Lamarr Houston and Willie Young and Jeremiah Ratliff playing along a defensive line that doesn't include the miscast welcome mat known as Shea McClellin. That’s where it starts, and the spot where it ends doesn't include Conte or Major Wright at safety.
Yes, OTA’s mean nothing to us, but it meant something because the Bears weren’t fielding the same group of jokes and jamokes. I’m not Rostradamus here, but I can see this Bears defense getting off the field quicker and more often, which gets the offense on the field more often.
The defense will be better. It has to be.
That makes the Bears' offense better. It has to be.