The Chicago Bears are 5-1 and the Packers just got smoked by the Buccaneers. The Bears are officially 1st place in the NFC North.
How are you feeling about that one, Cordarrelle?
This is my favorite tradition of the 2020 Chicago Bears. How bout them Bears?
Well, for starters, the defense is immaculate, it’s style is impenetrable, and an unlikely hero, DeAndre Houston-Carson, had his second 4th quarter walk-off. Last week it was a pass break up on fourth down, this week was an interception to close out the game. This was the Bears 3rd official turnover of the game, but all Bears fans know that Eddie Jackson had his second pick-six of the season taken off the board.
Also, Kyle Fuller got his weekly flag for absolutely lighting someone up for catching the ball in his zone. Last week it was a fumble, this week it took away a red zone turnover. It is starting to seem like the ref’s just don’t like the Bears all that much.
Bo Jack, in addition to Bears fans, is wondering where the consistency is with the officiating. Either way the Bears set the tone on defense. The first series was everything Bears fans needed to see. A tackle for loss, followed by a sack on the 1-yard line, and the interception that ultimately set up a score. The Bilal Nichols sack, that could have been ruled a safety, was one of four that the team had for the day. Four sacks may seem like a normal number for the Bears, but they were going against a Panthers team that didn’t give up a sack in the three weeks prior. The Bears made Teddy Bridgewater uncomfortable from the beginning of the game until the very end.
The Run Defense
In what was supposed to be Mike Davis’s revenge game, the Bears run defense finally found it’s stride. They limited Mike Davis to 52 yards on 18 carries (2.9 YPC). While Davis scored a ‘gimme’ touchdown set up by a pass interference penalty, he was also lit up by Eddie Jackson and coughed the ball up like phlegm during allergy season. Nose Tackle John Jenkins was also activated from the IR and suited up for the game. Is it coincidental that the Bears rushing defense looked like it should after their starting nose tackle came back from injury? No, I don’t believe in coincidences.
The offense was a different story. On the first series after the turnover, the Bears set up with 1st and goal from the six-yard line and were driven back to a 3rd and goal situation from the nine. It was strange because Jimmy Graham, the Bears biggest red zone threat, wasn’t on the field for 2nd or 3rd down, but it ultimately led to Cole Kmet’s first career touchdown.
The numbers in the box score indicate the Bears offense had another bottom dwelling performance. They couldn’t get David Montgomery going against a 29th ranked rushing defense. He was averaging under two yards per carry and everything the Bears ran out of heavy sets wasn’t working. Later in the game, the Bears started implementing more inside zone/shotgun runs, leading to a much more effective rushing attack. Even though Bears fans have been calling for a power running game for over a year now, it looks like inside zone is what’s working best for the Bears as of late. In the first three games this season, the Bears were able to bully teams and run against weaker defensive lines, but when faced up against teams like Indianapolis or Tampa Bay, it was a different story. This is a concern moving forward, but at the end of the day I won’t rip apart the offense after a good win.
As stated before, the stat sheet wont show much, but it felt like things were clicking a little more this past week. Plays that needed to be made were made. Even though it was ugly, the Bears scored their two touchdowns at crucial times in the game. The first to take the lead and the second to put some cool water on a Panthers team that was trying to claw back into the game. Any time the Panthers scored, the Bears responded, and that’s something we’ve yet to see under Matt Nagy.
The last thing I want to point out is the two minute drive before the half. It was calm, cool, collected, and efficient. Even with zero time outs, the Bears exposed the middle of the field and made the plays needed to get them in field goal range. Cairo Santos drilled his career long, 55-yard field goal, and the Bears took back the momentum going into halftime.
Was the win pretty? No. However, listen to Nick Foles’ response on the subject.
It’s easy to see why everyone loves Nick Foles. His passion for the game, self-awareness, love for his team mates, understanding of how to deal with the Chicago media, and professionalism are all shown in a one minute clip. It’s almost like he politely tells everyone to shut the hell up.
The Bears beat the Panthers and are 5-1. Was it pretty, no, but the Bears are now knocking off winning teams and at some point, the national media will have to give them some credit. If the talking heads want to say the Bears are the worst 5-1 team in the history of the NFL, thats fine, but 5-1 gives you a 75% chance of making the playoffs. I like those odds.
What’s On Tap Next?
The Bears find themselves with an extra day of rest before traveling to Los Angeles to take on the 4-2 Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The matchup will be the Monday Night Football primetime game, the first of two back-to-back weeks where the Bears are in primetime. The Bears/Rams game is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. CDT on October 26.
The Bears head into Los Angeles looking to do what the San Francisco 49ers did to the Rams on Sunday Night Football in Week 6. A Bears victory would be huge to start a run of three games against very good teams, beginning with the Rams, and including the Saints and Titans in Weeks 8 and 9, respectively.
Be sure to tune in to the Bears On Tap podcast for postgame reactions, updates and analysis throughout the week, and discussions on a variety of other Bears-related topics.