An exasperated Cam Newton took to the podium post-game on Sunday, without much explanation for what had happened to his Panthers offense against the Bears' defense. Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, essentially told it like it is, offering no excuses. None of what a rising Chicago did surprised the star quarterback.
“No, sir. Those two turnovers hurt us and we just couldn’t seem to get our foot back," said Newton of what transpired in the Bears' 17-3 win. “They brought zero blitz. Just no movement. We just got to be physical at the point of attack and get something going.”
The Bears defense didn't do anything exotic to Carolina. They didn't scheme some elaborate overly complicated plan. A defense that's allowed a mere two touchdowns in three October games simply gave the Panthers a proper, old school beat down straight up.
Given the talent on display featuring dominant pass rushers Leonard Floyd and Akiem Hicks (14 pressures and two sacks between the two), a playmaking linebacker in Danny Trevathan (four tackles, one sack, two tackles for loss, one interception), and a dynamic secondary duo in Eddie Jackson (two 75-yard touchdowns) and Kyle Fuller (five tackles), they know they don't have to.
The statistical story of five sacks, three turnovers, and 23 pressures on 43 passing attempts of Newton doesn't do the Bears proper justice. Not even close.
This Bears defense has come to the point where they know they're better than you. They know they can line up against any other offense and beat them into submission provided they do their jobs. They understand the amount of talent they have. After three years of merely passable play, they're finally reaching a comfort level under their, yes, guru coordinator Vic Fangio.
In essence, Newton and the Panthers had no chance as soon as they stepped onto the field. Even while being on the field for almost 40 minutes, the Bears were prepared for every pitfall. A mismatch through and through.
Chicago styled defense, meaning a quality gritty unit filled with playmakers at every level, is back. The "Monsters Of The Midway" - the vintage nickname for big time Chicago defense - is back. For lack of better phrasing, boy is it fun to watch.
Fun fact: as mentioned, the Bears defense has allowed two total touchdowns in October. In the last two games, following Jackson's historic scoring outing, they've scored three touchdowns. That is the most "Bears" statistic of all time. That is also a perfect representation of what this franchise is historically.
From a deeper perspective, it's almost as if this defense relishes in putting the team on it's back with their own backs against the wall. Confidence is not lost here. They truly believe they can win games on their own, which makes them that much more dangerous.
No one better exemplifies that confidence than the second-year rusher Floyd.
After chasing Newton around all over the field and no doubt giving the quarterback traumatic flashbacks of Broncos' superstar Von Miller chasing him in Super Bowl L, the notoriously introverted Floyd was uncharacteristically transparent on Sunday. The Bears' defensive centerpiece can't help but glow at how far this defense has grown.
“I believe we’re all together right now. We’re playing at a high level. Everybody is being accountable, and we’re just going out and executing," said Floyd.
For Floyd, that's not a cookie cutter explanation. That's not cliche. That's the 25-year-old being honest as he can. Even the defense's quiet leader won't contain his excitement. The Bears defense has reached not only competence, but the standard of play the city of Chicago is normally accustomed to. That'll draw a reaction every time.
Even more impressively, the Bears won on Sunday while completing only four passes on offense - the first team since the 2011 Denver Broncos to do so - not ironically also coached by John Fox.
This is Chicago style football: dominant defense, a solid running game, and an anemic offense not getting in said defense's way. Just what the doctor ordered. Or at least what this defense prefers at this rate. No better statement of the return of defensive comfort when they can take over a game while handicapped in one phase.
Expanded, this defense has won two games in a row with the offense completing only 12 passes overall in two weeks. It took the Bears almost two years to win two consecutive games again. In the modern 2017 air-raid of the NFL, no one could've reasonably predicted Chicago would break it's streak of ineptitude in this fashion.
No one except players on the actual defense, such as the historical Eddie "Action" Jackson (nickname still pending). Shockingly, perhaps the Bears' first real answer at free safety in a decade still believes this unit has room to improve.
“We’re just growing. Everyone’s getting comfortable with each other. Still a young defense – a lot of new guys, a lot of new faces – so we still just got to keep getting comfortable," said Jackson.
If that's truly the case, there are no limits as to the level of the Bears' defensive play. The roof is the floor. The sky is the ceiling. And they haven't even begin to scratch the surface of their potential.
All other circumstances be damned. The current Bears defense is going to give them a chance to win against whomever and wherever. Chicago hasn't won in New Orleans proper since January 1991. For Floyd, Jackson, and company, that isn't daunting. That's a challenge they would love to take on today if they could.
According to Floyd, this is a defense re-igniting a city's love affair for football.
“We’re definitely trying to change the culture. We’re trying to wake the city up, bring the city back to loving the Chicago Bears."
The old tagline is back. Now: do you believe in Monsters?
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron, and contributor to The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.