This Chicago Bears stat no one talks about looks improved

The Chicago Bears looked disciplined in the preseason

The Chicago Bears finished their preseason on a positive note Saturday. They escaped Cleveland with a 21-20 win to cap off an undefeated preseason. Undefeated preseasons don’t mean much (as Mike Martz would tell any football fan about the 2008 Detroit Lions), but the subtle way the Bears are playing is impressive.

Former head coach Matt Nagy didn’t seem to control his locker room well when he was with the Bears. The team looked unprepared for games and undisciplined during them. First-year head coach Matt Eberflus has said he emphasizes details and discipline in his system. One area of measurement already looks better.

The Bears didn’t commit a lot of penalties in their three preseason games. They had 13 penalties throughout all of the preseason. So about four penalties per game. The total number of penalty yards for the Bears was 118, which is 39.33 yards per preseason game on average.

Contrast that to last season. The Chicago Bears averaged 6.2 penalties a game last season and 5.7 in 2020.  In 2021, the Bears averaged 53.8 penalty yards per game. They were ranked 23rd for the most penalties and 22nd for the most penalty yards last season.

The Chicago Bears’ preseason numbers would put them in elite territory

By comparing the Bears’ preseason penalty statistics to last year’s numbers, the Bears would project themselves to be one of the least penalized teams in the NFL this season. The Bears’ preseason numbers in 2022 were at 4.3 penalties per game. In the 2021 regular season, the Green Bay Packers were the least penalized team at 4.1, the Los Angeles Rams at 4.3, and the Cincinnati Bengals at 4.4 per game.

The Bears’ penalty yards per game would put them fourth, right behind where the Packers were last season at 39.1 penalty yards per game. The New York Giants would be right behind them as they were just under 40 yards per game.

The Giants were an outlier of the teams mentioned in this post, as the other teams had fantastic seasons and made the playoffs. The Rams and Bengals made the Super Bowl. It doesn’t necessarily mean that because the Bears curb their appetite for penalties, they will be a playoff team this year.

However, not committing penalties will swing close games in their favor. Regardless of whether or not they can make the playoffs this season, if Eberflus can continue to build a strong foundation in the locker room where the team buys into fundamentals, the Chicago Bears will have a better chance of future success when they add more talent. Not committing stupid penalties and giving the opposition more turf is what championship-caliber teams do.

ESPN gave the Bears a hard time on prime time tv when the Bears played the Seattle Seahawks in Week Two of the preseason. But they applauded that the Chicago Bears looked more fundamentally sound than their opponent. Records in the preseason don’t matter, but praising a team for their discipline is about the highest praise Eberflus and a group buying into his system can get before the season.

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