The Chicago Bears moved to 3-7 on the year with a win over the Carolina Panthers at home. They beat arguably the worst team in football and in doing so matched their total wins from last season. Did someone say improvement?
Anyway, it was an ugly win that came down to the wire because the Bears refused to do anything with the football on offense. Fortunately, strong defense combined with the inexperienced Bryce Young making some mistakes helped the Bears limp to a prime-time win in front of the home crowd. Some things will have to be fixed because this effort against the first-place Detroit Lions in Week 11 will not suffice.
Chicago Bears Week 10 Loser No. 1: Special Teams
While it is important to note that both Cairo Santos and Trenton Gill had themselves great games, special teams is a unit that lives and dies as a whole. Sure Santos went three for three in field goals and even had to kick an extra 49-yarder before a false start penalty. Gil had arguably his best game of the season with how he was punting for yards and still able to pin the Panthers deep when needed. Unfortunately, the rest of the special teams had multiple failures, none bigger than the punt return touchdown allowed to our old friend Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The last thing a defense should do is allow a struggling offense with an inexperienced quarterback to be bailed out by a special teams score. The only reason this was a competitive game was because they got that touchdown from Smith-Marsette, and it can all be credited to sloppy tackling. Arm tackling on a punt return will not cut it when a player is running full speed. The Bears have been so good on special teams this year behind some key players like Dylan Cole and Josh Blackwell, so this was a surprisingly poor effort.
It was not just that one play either. They allowed a punt to be tipped later in the game that ended up only going for about 26 yards and gave the Panthers the ball on the Bears' side of the field to start their drive. For a team that has struggled like the Chicago Bears, special teams need to be near perfect. Mistakes from that unit are unaffordable and they end up getting magnified since the rest of the team struggles to make up for mistakes. Be sure that next game they will have tightened things up against one of the better returners in the game Khalif Raymond.