Going by points allowed, Mitchell Trubisky faced defenses ranked third (Minnesota), fourth (Carolina), seventh (Baltimore) and ninth (New Orleans) in his first four NFL starts.
If you’re into advanced stats, all those defenses rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders’ DVOA: Baltimore is No. 2, Carolina is No. 5, New Orleans is No. 8 and Minnesota is No. 9. That’s quite a gauntlet for a rookie quarterback to try to get through.
On Sunday, though, Trubisky will face a Green Bay Packers defense ranked 22nd in points allowed and 20th in defensive DVOA. He’ll have a new weapon at his disposal — wide receiver Dontrelle Inman is expected to make his Bears debut — and may get another one back, with Markus Wheaton saying on Wednesday he “absolutely” expects to play Sunday.
The Bears believe they’re close to breaking through offensively, and facing a defense that's trending the wrong way may be the perfect opportunity for it.
“I think we’re a team on the rise,” Wheaton said.
When Trubisky took a bigger-picture evaluation of his first half, he noted that opposing defenses rarely followed their tendencies when he faced them. To wit: the Ravens ran a lot more Cover-2 against the Bears than they did in their previous games, while the Saints executed a couple of blitzes Trubisky hadn’t seen before on film.
“Usually tendencies are a big thing you like to pick up on defenses,” Trubisky said. “But if they’re not showing us, we’ll have to adjust on the fly and take what the defense gives us.”
Trubisky expects Dom Capers’ Green Bay defense do to the same — “they look at their tendencies and try to mix it up,” he said — but can it be as effective as what Minnesota, Baltimore, Carolina and New Orleans did?
The stats say probably not. And this game against Green Bay begins a run of seven consecutive games against defenses ranked outside the top 10 in both points allowed and DVOA: Detroit is 20th in points allowed and 11th in DVOA, Philadelphia is 12th and 10th, San Francisco is 31st and 25th, Cincinnati is 11th and 14th, Detroit (again) and Cleveland is 28th and 18th.
Those numbers will change as November rolls into December, but for a Bears offense feeling optimistic about its second-half outlook, the opposing defenses it'll face could be conducive to better production.