3 and out: Bears win again on back of great defensive effort

The Bears recorded back to back wins for the first time since 2015 to move to 3-4 and match their win total for the whole of last season. They have their defense to thank for this one…

Bears continue to defy convention

Last week I listed some remarkable stats from the Bears win over the Ravens and wondered how it was possible for them to almost lose the game. This week the opposite is true. Against the Panthers, the following happened:

  • Mitch Trubisky completed four of seven passes for 107 yards and had no TD’s.
  • The Bears had only five first downs and ran only 37 plays on offense.
  • Running back Jordan Howard had only 65 yards rushing and no TD’s.
  • The Bears wide receivers posted one catch between them for 8 yards.
  • The offense did not score a TD.
  • The Special Teams didn’t score a TD either
  • Connor Barth made one chip shot field goal but missed a longer one when he struck the crossbar with a kick that was tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Despite all of this, the Bears won. Not only did they win, they won by 14 points. This sport is crazy, and Bears games tend to be crazier than most for one reason or another.

How did this happen? Vic Fangio’s defense, that’s how.

During the week Fangio’s unit were named as a top three defense by Pro Football Focus and they showed exactly why by dominating Cam Newton and the Panthers, while also putting up 14 points in the process. That’s two weeks now where they have not given up a TD.

It was a remarkable effort, particularly as they have three veteran starters out at present. Jerrell Freeman is a great inside linebacker but he isn’t even being missed at the moment as Danny Trevathan is playing lights out and alongside him Christian Jones is getting it done.

Willie Young’s presence on the outside would make the pass rush even stronger, but Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee are still making their presence felt. Of course it’s easier to do that when the monstrous Akiem Hicks is wreaking havoc inside along with Eddie Goldman and the under rated Mitch Unrein.

The cornerbacks continue to play well, with Kyle Fuller having another strong outing and Prince Amukamara looking good.

Perhaps the safety position has been the most pleasant surprise of late though. Adrian Amos came back in when Quinton Demps went down and he’s been great. He was the hero last week in Baltimore, but this week it was fellow safety Eddie Jackson’s turn to shine with two return scores that gave the Bears a lead they would never relinquish.

There was nothing special about the fumble recovery or the pick, but the ease with which he found the end zone after both was certainly eye catching. The Bears have lacked playmakers on defense for the past few years but now they’re suddenly making plays, taking the ball away and even getting touchdowns.

The offense on the other hand…

The offense was completely ineffective against the Panthers. The run game didn’t get going and the passing game was shut down completely apart from one 70 yard Trubisky pass to Tarik Cohen.

It’s difficult to draw any conclusions from it though because the play calling was so conservative. Understandably, as with a two score lead and a defense playing such dominant football, all the offense had to do was not turn it over. It would have been nice to see them pick up more first downs and maybe score a TD or two, but it wasn’t necessary for them to do it because they had a lead and a top three defense to protect it.

Next week at New Orleans though I suspect Trubisky is going to be called upon to do a whole lot more because it’s hard to see Drew Brees and the Saints getting shut down like Carolina were.

Trubisky has been ultra safe since his late INT cost the Bears a chance at victory against the Vikings in his first start. Last week against the Ravens he threw the ball away on several occasions, while against the Panthers he took some sacks instead of trying to make a play.

It wasn’t pretty to watch but it was smart football under the circumstances. Trubisky is 2-1 as a starter even though they still have the training wheels on him. He’s going to need to have a breakout game soon though as he won’t be playing with a lead every week and he can’t keep relying on the defense and special teams to score TD’s for him.

A game ball for…

Eddie Jackson, who scored two touchdowns and had almost as many yards as the entire Bears offense.

Dave Usher

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