John Fox said after the game that he was happy to see players and staff smiling in the locker room following the game. Winning is always great, isn't it? Fox even mentioned the fans in his post game comments:
"And I’m really happy for our fans, because we haven’t exactly lit it up here in our first two home games," Fox said at the podium. Indeed they have not lit it up at Soldier Field for some time. In fact, it was the team's first regular season win on the lakefront (and regular season win of any kind) since Nov. 23, 2014 when they defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 21-13.
For a little perspective, that was four days before Thanksgiving.
The rest of Sunday is always a little bit better following a win. Hopefully it is the first of many wins for John Fox as the Bears head coach.
Now, onto the takeaways:
1) Matt Forte is incredible
Sure, Bears fans already knew that, but a little context is always nice as well. Yesterday Forte became the second fastest player to reach 8,000 career rushing yards and 3,500 receiving yards behind only Marshall Faulk. Forte did it in 111 games. He accounted for 29 touches and 155 total yards yesterday. When he fumbled I saw a couple "Forte fumbles too much" tweets. So I decided to look it up.
Including his 29 touches yesterday, he has 2,357 career touches (carries and receptions) and 19 total fumbles. That translates to a mere .008 fumble rate (or 0.8 percent for those don't remember math). Compare that with Adrian Peterson, whom many consider the best RB in the NFL. Peterson has 2,346 career touches and 33 total fumbles, a .014 fumble rate. Put another way: Forte averages 2.25 fumbles a season while Peterson averages 4.125 (I only counted eight seasons for AP's average since he played one game last year and fumbled zero times).
2) Love him or hate, Jay Cutler makes the Bears better
The Bears live and die with Cutler and yes, it seems more often than not, lately especially, they've been dying by him. With that being said though, Cutler is such a nice fit in the Adam Gase offense he makes a world of difference when he's healthy.
Yes he makes awful decisions, seemingly always in late-close game places, but yesterday he was able to shake it off and drive the Bears down for the winning field goal.
Cutler fought through an injury just to play and while he looked like he was all right, he wasn't running for first downs and was clearly limited from his normal rolling, scrambling self. After another interception to Charles Woodson, Cutler and the offense got the ball back with 2:05 at their own 20 yard line.
The first three plays of the drive: Forte rush for six yards, Khalil Mack sack for -1, incomplete pass to Josh Bellamy. After that he went 5/7 for 41 yards. After one last Forte rush for two yards, Robbie Gould trotted out and the Bears went home winners.
3) Pernell McPhee is starting to show up
McPhee, the star of Chicago's free agent class, did not really make an impact the first two weeks of season, racking up just seven tackles in the two games.
Since then though, he has begun to get it turned on. A week after notching two sacks against Seattle and six tackles, McPhee was all over the place yesterday. He missed out on a sack but the final press box stats showed him with eight tackles, a pass deflection, a tackle for loss and his first career interception. McPhee was around the ball, looked all right in coverage and was making an impact in the run game. Basically he was exactly what the Bears expected when he was signed.
4) Special teams is still a disaster
Long gone are the days of Dave Toub and Bears fans desperately miss him. When John Fox came to town and brought in Jeff Rodgers to coordinate special teams, fans thought that the awfulness of Joe DeCamillis would go away and that the Bears' third phase would regain some measure of respectability.
While they did not surrender any kick return TDs this week, they still allowed a 22-yard punt return and, what fan didn't have a momentary heart attack as Roy Helu returned the final squib kick for 37 yards and manage to get a backward-pass-fumble thing going well into Bears territory.
Last season special teams had a small excuse as then-general manager Phil Emery kept a rotating door of inexperienced undrafted free agent players on the bottom of the roster churning through the doors of Halas Hall. Players without experience were out there covering and returning kicks and they were all awful. This season veterans like Marc Mariani, Sam Acho and Antrel Rolle are in on the coverage and kick units and yet they still can't get it done.
5) Is Marquess Wilson turning a corner?
This was something I wonder aloud during the game on Twitter and in the Game Thread. Wilson turned in a career high 80 receiving yards on six catches. The only time he had more catches was when he caught seven passes against the Lions last December.
Wilson has been called into action with all the injuries to the receiving corps but Cutler has been counting on him more and more and he's been answering the bell. Wilson has been breaking tackles and turning in yards after the catch with more consistency.
Wilson has to get open more consistently and catch the ball more (he was targeted seven times in weeks two and three and registered only one catch) but I like how he is developing and hope he can continue to improve.
Bonus items: Jarvis Jenkins continues to be an underrated pick up; he picked up his third sack yesterday, reaching a new career high. Eddie Goldman notched the first sack of his career, he also had a tackle for loss and a QB hit. Robbie Gould is now just five points shy of passing Kevin Butler for the franchise points mark.