The Bears were able to secure another victory on the back’s of the defense, to bring the season record to 3-4. The offense and special teams are still struggling a bit but the defense has 4 scores in the past 3 games, including 3 touchdowns in the past 2. Needless to say, the defensive portion of the re-build appears to be on-track.
Keys to the Game
Counter Moves: Another week, another overly conservative game plan, and another defense that easily stopped what the Bears offense was trying to do. What is the definition of insanity again...? The Bears have run the majority of their running plays off of left tackle this season. In 6 carries against the Panthers, they lost 7 yards. The right side is where they had success, but they chose to run the majority of plays left of center. At some point, this offense is going to need to score points. To date, they have failed miserably.
Generating Turnovers: 2 weeks in a row, you gotta be bleepin’ me!* That’s right, the Bears managed to take the ball away 3 times against the Panthers. The first on a fumble recovery by Eddie Jackson, the second an interception on a tip from Prince Amukamara to Jackson, and an interception late by Danny Trevathan, which was essentially the dagger. Perhaps most impressively, was Jackson’s ability to score with the ball in his hands. Don’t stop now boys!*
*In the words of the immortal Ken “Hawk” Harrelson
The X-Factor: The special teams were demonstrably better this week. Obviously, there were no egregious lapses in judgement or in coverage. They weren’t great by any means, but they didn’t hurt the team either. This was an upgrade from last week, but I would still like to see the special teams be more aggressive on returns. There was also a blocked field goal attempt, that needs to be cleaned up by Connor Barth.
Eddie Jackson played so well on Sunday, that he deserves his own section. I have been saying it since training camp, it was only a matter of time before he starts taking the ball away. He has been a hair late on several plays from the preseason on. But Sunday, he broke through in a big way. Everything wasn’t perfect, for the rookie though. He looked a bit tentative when making tackles, especially in the run game. My guess is with the field being slick — there were several players that had slipped throughout the course of the game — that he was just being cautious. Given the physicality on display for the first 6 games, I am not going to concern myself with that. Much has be said, written, and tweeted about Jackson’s performance, so there is no reason to get into all of the accolades. What was impressive is how much he seems to be around the ball, not just Sunday, but all season. The Bears may have just found their best free safety since Mike Brown.
3 Bears Up 4 Bears Up!*
Danny Trevathan: For the first time since joining the Bears, Trevathan had an interception. He also racked up his second sack in as many games. The Danny Trevathan that we have seen the past 4 games (he has played), is the player that I saw when he was in Denver. If this is the player we can expect going forward, this defense has a chance to be truly good. With young players next to him in Christian Jones and Nick Kwiatkoski, the middle looks to be well-manned. By the way, Christian Jones was pretty darn good too...
Kyle Fuller/Prince Amukamara: I am lumping these two together because they played a similar game. They got their noses dirty in the running game (especially Fuller), locked their assignments down on the outside, and tipped passes — the Amukamara tip leading to Jackson’s pick-six. In man coverage, these two were truly outstanding against a physical Panthers receiving corps, and they both matched the physicality and then some. I can get used to watching the Bears secondary playing like they have the past two weeks. I love watching defensive backs beating up receivers at the line of scrimmage, and that is precisely what we’ve seen the past two weeks.
Leonard Floyd: I, like many others, have beat up Floyd a bit this season. He has mostly deserved that, let’s be honest. But you saw him starting to heat up last week versus the Ravens, but this week was a different animal. Floyd made his presence known from about the beginning of the 2nd quarter onward. Quite possibly the most impressive play — in a game full of impressive plays by Floyd — is going to go as just a simple tackle of Cam Newton on the stat sheet. To be able to chase down Newton from behind and hold him to a marginal gain really was impressive. It show’s you why Ryan Pace traded up for him and took him 9th overall. The duo of Floyd and Pernell McPhee are quietly heating up. In the past 3 weeks, the outside linebacker duo has accounted for 5 sacks, 7 tackles for loss, and 11 quarterback hits. Add that to Akiem Hicks’ numbers and that front-seven is living up to its billing as these two get healthier.
Akiem Hicks: Speaking of Hicks, he had yet another incredible game. For anyone interested, this is what an All-Pro season looks like from an interior defensive lineman. I don’t care how much trepidation you may have as a Bears fan right now, there is simply no denying that Hicks is the Bears best player right now. In his last 3 games, Hicks has 4 sacks, 6 tackles for loss, and 5 quarterback hits. This guy was worth every penny he got and more, much more. Possibly the only interior defensive lineman having as good of a season is Calais Campbell.
*Sorry Bears offense, there was nobody that deserves to be on this list. The offense literally contributed nothing to this win in any way, shape, or form.
3 Bears Down
Mitchell Trubisky: The sample size was tiny and there were a couple of dropped passes by Tarik Cohen, but there was never any rhythm to the offense whatsoever. Some of the sacks that Trubisky took were inexcusable. He also missed, what appeared to be, a wide open Zach Miller early on, down the right sideline. It is hard to blame a rookie quarterback who is given these types of game plans, but he still needs to be more effective in running what offense he’s allowed to.
Offensive Line: For the second straight week, I thought this unit played poorly. I took flak for saying this but in regulation last week, the Bears rushed for 3.2 YPC. This week, Jordan Howard rushed for 3.1 YPC. Granted, the Bears play-calling is woefully predictable and basic, but you still need to block your man. Additionally, they have allowed 8 sacks in the last 2 games. A lot of that is on Trubisky, the receivers, and the coaching staff, but again, the hogs need to do their jobs better.
Dowell Loggains: At this point, I don’t know who is to blame for the game plan. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is entirely on John Fox, but since I can’t prove it, I am going to blame Loggains. I don’t want to get into the details, because I am working on an article about the offense — which I will release during the bye week at some point — but I have never seen an offense as predictable as this one has been for the past 3 weeks. How is it possible in 2017 to have a quarterback throw the ball 7 times and only pick up 5 first downs as an offense? That is beyond pathetic. I know the wide receivers are bad — at best — but the offense is somehow worse without Mike Glennon. How is that even possible?
What are your thoughts on who played well and who didn’t?
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