With their 17-3 win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 7, the Chicago Bears may have turned some heads in the NFL. For the first time since November of 2015, Bears (3-4) have won two games in a row, and have already matched their win total from last season.
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This game was definitely highlighted by the performance of the defense. For the second week in a row, the defense didn’t allow a touchdown, and managed to generate three takeaways. In addition, they recorded five sacks on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
As for the offense, they sputtered, having very little time on the field in the first half, and never establishing a rhythm in the second half. The offense gained a total of only 153 net yards, and converted just two of 11 third downs.
Overall, this was an impressive win, and has put a little bit of wind in the Bears’ sail heading into their last game before their bye week. Take a look at their grades for Week 7.
The passing attempts for rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Week 7 were more than cut in half from last week. Trubisky finished the game completing just four of seven passes for 107 yards. The first-round draft pick’s only highlight was a 70-yard connection with fellow rookie Tarik Cohen late in the first half. On the flipside, Trubisky did manage to hold on to the ball too long at times in the pocket. One time in particular was on the last play of first quarter on third down when he was sacked, putting the Bears in a situation to kick a 52-yard field goal instead of a 43 yarder. It resulted in a failed attempt. Trubisky did show off his speed by running for the pylon late in the second quarter, but his touchdown run was negated after instant replay showed his knee was down before breaking the plane.
Once again, the running game was fed heavily. Jordan Howard was handed the ball 21 times, but managed to get a modest 65 yards. Tarik Cohen didn’t get any carries in the ground attack, but did get all 70 of his yards on one pass reception.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Tight end Zach Miller and rookie wide receiver Tanner Gentry were the only ones, other than Cohen, to catch a pass. Miller led the small bunch with two catches for 29 yards, while Gentry hauled in just one pass for eight yards. Some receivers didn’t show enough effort while blocking in bunch formations in the running game.
We knew that facing one of the best pass-rushing defenses would present a problem for Chicago’s offensive line. The Panthers managed to bring down Trubisky four times throughout the contest. As for the running game, the offensive front didn’t create many holes for Howard to run through.
The defensive line set the tone early in the game, stuffing the Panthers’ ground attack right at the line of scrimmage. Defensive end Akiem Hicks added another sack to his season total, while nose tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive end Mitch Unrein shared a sack. Hicks could’ve had another sack, but his facemask penalty wiped it out. Goldman also had a big play by stuffing Cam Newton at the line of scrimmage on a fourth-down play in the third quarter.
Chicago’s corps of linebackers are continuing to show improvement in their pass rush. Danny Trevathan, Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee all recorded a sack. Trevathan also showed off his coverage skills with an interception in the fourth quarter. Christian Jones found himself around that ball a lot, finishing with a game-high 11 tackles.
Hands down, rookie safety Eddie Jackson was the MVP of this game. Jackson made NFL history by becoming the first defensive player with two touchdown returns of 75 yards or more in a single game. Jackson first returned a fumble recovery 75 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. In the second quarter, cornerback Prince Amukamara deflected a pass, and Jackson snagged the ball out of the air and ran it back for a 76-yard touchdown. Jackson’s 151 return yards was only two yards shy of matching the offense’s total yardage.
Overall, the Bears’ secondary did a good job in keeping Carolina’s big receivers in check.
With all of the three-and-outs by the offense, punter Pat O’Donnell had plenty of opportunities to get on the field. However, O’Donnell managed to place just one of his six punts inside the 20-yard line. Kicker Connor Barth missed a 52-yard attempt, which was partially blocked, and connected on a 19-yard chip shot.
The coaching staff continues to keep Trubisky on a short leash when it comes to the passing game, not giving the offense a balanced attack. On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio called a good game with blitzes and finding ways to keep pressure on the quarterback.
On questionable call by head coach John Fox was kicking a field goal on fourth down with the ball on the one-yard line before halftime, instead of going for it with three timeouts in their pocket.