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Bears defense in NFL Rankings

In the second of a three-part series, takes a look at how the Bears stacked up in the NFL rankings on defense in 2015:

Points per game: 24.8 (20th in NFL)

While there's still a lot of room to improve, the Bears made huge strides in their first season under head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. After allowing the most points in franchise history with 478 in 2013 and the second most with 442 in 2014, they permitted 397 in 2015. The defense played its best football during a four-game midseason stretch when it held its opponents to 19, 13, 17 and 13 points.

Total yards per game: 345.1 (14th in NFL)

Operating a 3-4 scheme for the first time in franchise history, the Bears improved from 30th in total yards allowed in 2014 to 14th. The 16-spot improvement was the third largest in team history from one year to the next and was tied for the second biggest improvement in the NFL from 2014 to 2015.

Rushing yards per game: 120.9 (tied for 22nd in NFL)

The Bears improved down the stretch against the run, especially in a Week 15 loss to the Vikings when they limited star running back Adrian Peterson to 63 yards on 18 carries. The run defense received a boost late in the year from undrafted rookie linebacker John Timu, who recorded 25 tackles while starting the final three games.

Passing yards per game: 224.6 (4th in NFL)

The Bears defense was stingy against the pass all season, especially in the team's biggest win of the year Thanksgiving night in Green Bay. The unit forced Aaron Rodgers to throw four straight incomplete passes from the Chicago 8 in the waning moments to preserve a 17-13 win and held the Packers star quarterback to a 62.4 passer rating that was the lowest of his career in 61 home starts.

Third-down efficiency: 44.3% (29th in NFL)

The Bears defense struggled to get off the field, allowing opposing offenses to convert 89-of-201 third-down opportunities. Those numbers were nearly identical to the previous season when opponents were successful on 85-of-201 third-down plays. The lack of success is evidence that the Bears need more impact players on defense, something they intend to address this offseason.

Sacks: 35 (tied for 22nd in NFL)

The Bears pass rush improved late in the season after a slow start, recording 20 sacks in their final seven games, tied for the seventh most in the NFL during that span. Outside linebackers Lamarr Houston (8), Willie Young (6.5) and Pernell McPhee (6) were one of five NFL trios with at least six sack apiece.

Red-zone touchdown efficiency: 60.0% (tied for 21st in NFL)

The Bears allowed opponents to score 27 touchdowns and 14 field goals on 45 trips in the red zone, meaning that only four drives resulted in no points. The defense's only red-zone turnover of the season came in a Week 16 win over the Buccaneers on an interception by rookie safety Harold Jones-Quartey. The other stops came twice on downs and once when McPhee blocked a field-goal attempt against the Chiefs.

Takeaways: 17 (28th in NFL)

The lack of takeaways is further proof that the Bears' need to add impact players on defense during free agency and the draft. They didn't give their offense many short fields in 2015, failing to generate a takeaway in seven of 16 games and producing more than two in only two contests all season.

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