Why Injuries Aren't Solely To Blame for a Mediocre Season in Chicago
Through the first ten weeks of this NFL season, it seems that injuries are running wild and that star players are going down one after another. The Chicago Bears have certainly not been an exception to this trend. They have suffered injuries that have held players out of games in their linebacking corps, secondary, offensive line, defensive line and at quarterback. Despite these facts, the blame for an unimpressive 5-4 season can't be placed squarely on the shoulders of players getting hurt.
Despite missing quarterback Jay Cutler for about a game and a half and the offensive line injuries, the Bears still rank tenth in the NFL in total offense. Chicago is third in the league in scoring. Where the Bears have faltered offensively, however, has been on third downs. Chicago is converting only 38% of its opportunities, and that inability to regularly sustain drives has been part of what's led to four losses. In all four losses, Chicago has come up on the short side of the time of possession battle as well as the score. In their five wins, the Bears have had the greater time of possession. Having Cutler and the entire offensive line healthy for every minute of all nine games may have improved those stats some, but the majority of the reason for the Bears' mediocrity here is a lack of execution.
Most of Chicago's significant injuries have come on the defensive side. Again, while these players missing snaps hasn't helped, their absence isn't the sole reason for the Bears not being dominant. Chicago ranks 26th in the league in both total defense and points allowed, allowing opponents almost 389 yards and just over 27 points per game. The only reason why this Chicago defense hasn't been labeled as one of the worst in the league is because they've forced 20 turnovers and scored four touchdowns. An argument could be made that this defense would be better with everyone healthy, but how much better would be another matter.
It can't be ignored that the Bears have been hit by injuries hard this year, but it seems like the rest of the NFL has been as well. Before Chicago can start to use those games when they had players missing as an excuse for 5-4 start, they need to improve their execution with the players that are on the field.