We are basically two months into the 2017 fiscal year for the National Football League. It’s safe to say we have seen plenty of player movement via free agency and trades. And in late April, a total of 253 players were selected in the NFL draft. So as teams get ready for mini-camps and OTAs, we figured it was a good time to have some fun looking (and learning) at the significant numbers – both in regards to the past and the present – for each of the 32 franchises. We’ve already checked out the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers. Now we are onto the Chicago Bears.
Back in 1969 and still quite a few years away from a 16-game season, the Chicago Bears finished 1-13 – setting a dubious franchise record for losses. The team tied that mark in 2016 and lost their last four games along the way. It’s becoming the quite the drought of success for this proud franchise. The team is a combined 9-23 the past two seasons and haven’t been to the playoffs since hosting the NFC title game in 2010.
Remember when head coach Lovie Smith was at the helm of a team that created turnovers and made a living out of opportunistic football? This past season, the Bears came away with an NFL-low 11 takeaways. The club picked off only eight passes and recovered just three opponent fumbles. Perhaps that was one impetus for adding free-agent strong safety Quintin Demps. He led the Houston Texans with six interceptions this past season, totaled 55 tackles, knocked down nine passes and forced a fumble.
In 2016, Dallas Cowboys’ rookie Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL with 1,631 yards rushing. The former Ohio State Buckeyes’ standout was the fourth overall pick in the last year’s draft. Meanwhile, another rookie finished as the league’s No. 2 rusher. Jordan Howard was a fifth-round pick by the Bears in ’16 and ran for 1,313 yards and six scores. While he finished a distance second to Elliott, he was a steady force once he made his presence felt on a regular basis. In his last 13 contests, Howard totaled 240 carries for 1,246 yards and all six of those touchdowns. And he ran for 100-plus yards in seven of those outings.