Aaron Schatz of footballoutsiders.com used statistical analysis to reveal just how bad the Bears were in goal-line and short-yardage situations last season.
It's a great website, by the way. Check it out.
By Aaron Schatz
Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte played behind one of the worst offensive lines in football -- and it showed in his work near the goal line. By our figures, Forte's two touchdowns on 19 attempts inside the 5 in 2009 were 5.7 touchdowns below his expected total. That's the worst figure of the decade. Backs with a performance of minus-3.0 or below in a given season have been just about league-average in the subsequent season, so Bears fans can at least hope for a better 2010 from their star back.
We have to establish how to measure success near the goal line. Merely counting a player's touchdowns isn't enough; just like RBIs in baseball, we have to consider how frequently a player had the chance to score. With that in mind, we took every carry by a running back inside the 5 from the past ten seasons (2000-2009), separated them out by down and distance, and found the percentage of the time the opportunity resulted in a touchdown.
For example, running backs who were handed the rock on first down from the opposition's 1-yard line scored 52.9 percent of the time; from the 3-yard line, that figure was 31.1 percent.
Using these baseline values, we can form an "expected" touchdown total for each player. Applying those baseline values to each carry inside the 5 and then measuring the player's actual touchdown count produces a measure of how well the player performed versus a league-average back.