The Chicago Bears beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 41-17 in their Week 16 matchup. As expected, the Bears dominated the Jaguars, a team that clinched the worst record in the league with this loss. Meanwhile, Chicago now has the seventh seed in the playoffs, as the Cardinals loss on Saturday opened the playoff spot for Chicago. Here are 3 Bears takeaways from Week 16.
Roquan Smith is the life of this defense
The Pro-Bowl selections were announced on December 21st, and Roquan Smith was surprisingly not selected. Smith has been one of the best linebackers in the NFL this season, and has almost unarguably had a better season than at least one of the two middle linebackers selected for the NFC.
Smith took this Pro-Bowl snub to heart against the Jaguars. He led the team in solo tackles with 8, double the next highest amount. He had two interceptions, both in the opponent’s territory.
This dominant performance is just another example of how important Smith is to the Bears defense. He leads the team in tackles by 32. He ranks third on the team for sacks and pass deflections, which is even more impressive considering he is a linebacker. The Bears defense clearly relies on Roquan Smith.
Unfortunately, Smith landed awkwardly on his right shoulder after returning his first interception. He was grimacing and given some medical attention, although able to play the rest of the game. However, if Smith’s potential injury causes him to lose any games, Chicago’s already struggling defense would be in trouble.
The Bears offense is improving with conversions
Chicago’s offense has been humming as of late. After scoring 30 points or more in just one of their first 11 games, the Bears have scored 30+ points in each of their last four games. This is the first time they have done so since 1965.
Part of their recent offensive success is due to Chicago’s improvement on conversions. Prior to Week 12, the Bears converted below 32 percent of their third down attempts. In the past four games, however, has converted over 42 percent of third down attempts. Play calling and execution in these situations has clearly improved.
Against the Jaguars, Chicago especially did well in this regard. They went 6-12 on third downs and 2-2 on fourth downs. The Bears also scored touchdowns on four out of six trips to the red zone. For perspective, if Chicago averaged 4/6 in this situation, they would rank ninth in the league in red zone percentage.
Hopefully, the Bears can continue to impress with conversions. If they can do so, their offense will most likely continue to be successful.
Chicago is not getting enough pressure
Against one of the worst offenses in the league and quarterback Mike Glennon, Chicago was expected to get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Jacksonville has allowed the 11th most sacks in the NFL and Chicago has invested so much time and money into their pass rush. This is a recipe for a lot of pressure against a quarterback who frequently turtles in the face of defenders.
However, the game did not play out that way. Chicago only had one sack, two tackles for loss and three quarterback hits. Against a mediocre offensive line, the Bears should have had their way. And yet, they did very little.
This too often has been the case this season. Despite having a supposedly great defense, the Bears are just middle of the pack in sacks and quarterback hits. If Chicago cannot reach Mike Glennon and get past the Jacksonville Jaguars, they will be in trouble next week against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
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