The Bears appear to struggle in drawing penalties from their opponents.

BY V. CARBONNEAU    DECEMBER 5, 2023  (9:54)
The expression on Matt Eberflus' face conveyed the story.

During a Monday discussion, he was asked if he had observed what occurred in the Green Bay-Kansas City game, particularly the two instances of non-pass interference calls against the Packers in the closing moments.

Bears tight end Cole Kmet, like Eberflus, had also witnessed these incidents and had a clear opinion on whether they should have been called as pass interference penalties.

Kmet shared, "I did, on both of them, I did." However, it's worth noting that, being a tight end whose primary responsibility is catching passes, he may naturally lean towards favoring the offense. Additionally, the fact that it was the Green Bay defense involved could have influenced his perspective due to his dual roles as a Bears player and a Chicago area fan.


Similar situations, akin to those non-calls, surfaced in the Monday night game, with what appeared to be an evident pass interference against Cincinnati.

The debates over pass interference (DPI) and offensive pass interference (OPI) persistently plague the NFL.

Rather than delving into potential controversies, Eberflus took a diplomatic approach by acknowledging that he had seen the calls. He then shed light on why pass interference penalties are often a challenge to call, emphasizing the importance of timing in these situations.

"It's all about timing. A lot of that is instincts. You can work on it as a coach, but some of the real good ones have it. They have the instincts to time their jump when the ball meets the reception area," explained the Bears coach.

The Bears' penalty concerns, however, extend beyond pass interference, encompassing their own false starts and the consistency of officiating.

Remarkably, the Bears have experienced the fewest instances of opponents drawing penalty flags in the NFL.

If we consider the "S" in Eberflus' HITS principle to stand for smart play, it appears that the Bears might be facing exceptionally clever opponents.

Alternatively, it could be suggested that the Bears need to voice more grievances about the referees' one-sided decisions.

The statistics reveal that only 51 penalties have been called against the Bears' opponents, the lowest total in the league. The next closest team, Kansas City, has seen 56 penalties against their opponents. In contrast, Minnesota has benefited from 87 flags against its opponents, Green Bay from 71, and Detroit from 62.

Considering that the Bears have been penalized the ninth-most times in the league (80 penalties), their penalty ratio is a significant minus-29. Moreover, the 395 yards in penalties assessed against Bears opponents is the lowest in the league, with a 67-yard lead over the nearest competitor.

In the past ten games, the Bears have accumulated more penalties than their opponents in nine of them, with one game resulting in an equal number of penalties.

Their net yards ratio for penalties stands at minus-304, a margin that no other team comes close to.

Eberflus acknowledged the need to eliminate penalties, particularly those that occur before the snap, like false starts. He highlighted that they have been working on reducing false starts and emphasized the importance of doing so.

The Bears have now dropped to fourth place in false starts with 20, after having held the top spot previously. They rank 17th in defensive pass interference flags (six) but are tied for second with four illegal contact penalties.

Eberflus stressed, "So anytime you can eliminate those [penalties], a lot of times the DPIs and the contact down the field, sometimes there's a questionable [call], and you've got to take those and move to the next set of downs and execute again."

In conclusion, the issue of penalties remains a prominent topic of discussion in the NFL, particularly for a team like the Bears, which has a substantial penalty differential. Addressing this concern is a priority for the team moving forward.
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