Coach Marc Trestman expressed concern over the Bears’ failure to stop opponents on third downs. He has reason to worry.
The Bears’ defense is tied with the St. Louis Rams for the NFL's worst in stopping third-down conversions, allowing 14 conversions in 27 third downs (52 percent) in two games.
Two games do not a season make, but that is worse than any two-game stretch of third downs in more than two years and the worst since the Bears combined for 18 of 33 conversions in back-to-back 2010 games against Detroit (win) and New England (loss). Three times last year the Bears allowed 14 third-down conversions over two games but never for more than 50 percent combined.
Within the current conversion rate, the Cincinnati Bengals sustained drives of 97, 91 and 80 yards, all for touchdowns. The Bengals piled up 14 first downs on the three drives.
The Minnesota Vikings went 75 yards for a touchdown, then 81 and 79 yards for field goals, with 11 first downs on the three drives.
“We’ve got to continue to improve our third-down conversion rate,” Trestman said. “We put the (Minnesota) game in (quarterback Christian) Ponder’s hands, and he did a good job, particularly on breaking contain on a couple of occasions.”
While the latter two “stops” inside the Chicago 10 were crucial to the Minnesota result, the failures to end possessions is ominous.