In the first of a three-part series, ChicagoBears.com takes a look at how the Bears stacked up in the NFL rankings on offense in 2015:
Points per game: 20.9 (23rd in NFL)
The Bears were fairly consistent with their scoring output, producing 17-23 points in 11 of their 16 games. They tallied more than 30 points twice—in a 37-34 loss to the Lions and a 37-13 win over the Rams—after not reaching that plateau in 2014 for the first time in franchise history. The Bears were also shut out 26-0 in Seattle Sept. 27 for the first time since the 2002 season finale, a 15-0 loss to the Buccaneers in Champaign. The Bears scored first in just four of 16 games and were slow starters in both halves, tallying 41 points in the first quarter, 125 in the second, 45 in the third and 124 in the fourth.
Total yards per game: 344.6 (21st in NFL)
The Bears climbed to as high as 16th in the rankings during the middle part of the season after bottoming out at 27th. But they slowly slid back down to 21st by the end of the year. Interestingly, three playoff teams finished behind the Bears in total yards, including NFC North rivals Green Bay (23rd) and Minnesota (29th). Jay Cutler passed for 3,659 yards and ran for 201 yards, while the ground game produced 1,854 yards behind Matt Forte (218 carries for 898 yards) and Jeremy Langford (148-537).
Rushing yards per game: 115.7 (11th in NFL)
First-year head coach John Fox and offensive coordinator Adam Gase committed to the run and the Bears responded by rushing for 1,854 yards, an increase of 413 yards from the 2014 season. Unlike previous years, Forte stayed fresh by splitting the workload with Langford and Ka'Deem Carey (43 carries for 159 yards).
Passing yards per game: 228.9 (23rd in NFL)
Cutler had his most efficient season since joining the Bears in 2009, posting a career-high 92.3 passer rating while starting 15 of 16 games. But the passing game no doubt would have been significantly more productive with a healthy receiving corps. The Bears' top four receivers entering the season—Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson—missed a combined total of 35 of 64 games.
Third-down efficiency: 42.5% (6th in NFL)
The Bears' success rate was their highest since 1995 when they were less than one-tenth of a percentage point better. Cutler was a big reason, ranking fourth in the NFL with a 103.2 passer rating on third down, completing 91 of 141 passes for 1,242 yards with seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Red-zone touchdown efficiency: 48.0% (27th in NFL)
While the Bears excelled on third down to keep drives alive, the struggled inside their opponents' 20-yard line, mustering touchdowns on just 24 of 50 trips. The only teams that were worse were the Broncos, Cowboys, Giants, 49ers and Browns. With so many drives stalling, Robbie Gould broke his own Bears record with 33 field goals, tied for second in the NFL behind only the Vikings' Blair Walsh (34).
Giveaways: 21 (tied for 13th in NFL)
The Bears' 21 turnovers were their fewest in a season since the NFL adopted the 16-game scheduled in 1978. Cutler didn't throw multiple interceptions in a game until the season finale against the Lions, his 15th start of the year. In his first six seasons with the Bears from 2009-14, Cutler had 26 multi-interception contests.