Payton Presser: Eddie Jackson makes history in Bears victory over Panthers
Entering Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers, the Bears were trying to get a win and also do something that they haven’t done since November of 2015: win back-to-back games. John Fox’s team got the W and their second win in a row, defeating the Panthers 17-3 while racking up their third win of the season. Like I said last week, a win is a win and I’ll take each one the Bears can get. Sunday’s game was an odd one, but very entertaining with a defensive battle twist. Heading into this week, my only question was would they keep the momentum going from last week in Baltimore. Having Superman himself, Cam Newton, in town wouldn’t be easy, but nothing comes easy in the NFL. You have to earn it and, like last week, this team earned their win over the Panthers. Covering the Bears, I see a team that used to come into games uncertain if they could win now having become a team that comes into games expecting to win by any means necessary. In week 7, the Bears won in an unconventional way, but it also was another step in the right direction. I love Bears victory Mondays! Let’s jump into some of my takeaways from Sunday’s game.
Bears’ offense struggles
The Bears offense is at a crossroads right now. When your offense is one dimensional, you have to be good at it all the time to be successful. We all know, and so do all the other teams, that the Bears want to run the ball. We saw how they can stall out when they play against a good run defense. Mitchell Trubisky made his 3rd start of the season and once again was not asked to do too much, leaving the heavy lifting to the Bears defense. The Bears had five 1st downs and punted the ball 6 times on Sunday. Yes, I know, crazy, right? Trubisky completed 4 of 7 passes for 107 yards with no touchdown passes or interceptions. Trubisky is the first quarterback to win a game with less then 5 completions since Tim Tebow completed 2 back in 2011. I question some of the play calls for Trubisky. One thing we’ve seen is Trubisky seems to be more comfortable throwing on the move. There was none of that on Sunday. Plus, with the offensive line giving up 4 sacks, Trubisky was under pressure most of the day when he dropped back. We know he has an arm, we saw it in the 70-yard pass he throw to Tarik Cohen. I understand that the defense gave the Bears the lead and you don’t want to risk turning over the ball, potentially letting the Panthers back in the game. But how long can you handcuff the rookie? Dowell Loggains and QB coach Dave Ragone have to find a balance in protecting Trubisky from making mistakes and putting a governor on his moxie. When looking at the stat sheet, the fact Tanner Gentry was the only Bears wideout with a catch is very concerning. Not sure what you can do at the position when it comes to production with the guys on the roster. As for the Bears offensive line, they have to regroup after their performance on Sunday. They didn’t play their best game, but a couple of the sacks were not their fault. Trubisky had guys open, but he wasn’t comfortable in the pocket. He will get better at that with time. Look, the faith of the Bears’ offense will live or die with the run game. The question that remains is, “Can someone in the wideout room step up and make some plays?” It’s going to be tough to bank on the defense creating takeaways and turning them into points every week. It would be nice, but not practical.
Defense comes up big
The Bears defense deserves a standing ovation for their performance Sunday versus the Panthers. From the time the ball kicked off, the Bears defense set the tone for the how the game was going to play out. The Bears were flying around the field looking to hit anything that was moving. When you do that, normally good thing happen and Sunday we saw it all play out. For a team that has struggled to create turnovers the past 2 season, we’ve been blessed to see Vic Fangio’s unit manufacture a few over the last two weeks. Sunday was all about rookie safety Eddie Jackson. Jackson had himself an outstanding day on Sunday. The Bears picked up 3 turnovers. Jackson would be involved in two of those which turned out to be the difference in the game. Jackson took a fumble 75 yards for a touchdown and ran back an interception 76 yards for a score as well. Jackson becomes the first player in NFL history with multiple 75 plus yard defensive touchdowns in the same game. This all coming a year to the date since he broke his leg at Alabama. The third turnover came in the fourth quarter when Cam Newton was rushed out of the pocket and threw the ball to Danny Trevathan for an interception. Another week passes and Kyle Fuller keeps showing how much he has improved in 2017. Hats off to defensive backs coach Ed Donatell on the nylon he’s down with the secondary this season. For a group that was looked at before the season as the weak link, they have been a pleasant surprise for the Bears defense. When you go up against Cam Newton, you have to find ways to bring pressure, but also be cautious not to give up the big plays he can make with his feet. From Akiem Hicks, Leonard Floyd to Danny Trevathan, the defense racked up 5 sacks on the day. Positive pressure is Newton’s Kryptonite and the Bears executed the game plan. My feelings have been the same even before the season started. I’m all in on this defense and think they are just scratching the surface of how good they can be. I sit and wonder how much better they would be with Jerell Freeman in the mix. Takeaways and the Bears defense are starting to go hand and hand these days. I hope it stays that way for the remainder of the season.
There are some things in life that are certain like death and taxes and it’s hard to win without a balanced attack on offense. The Bears will have to find a way to balance the offense. I know this is a crazy thought, but the Bears are 3-4 on the season and not completely out of the playoff picture. Take that in for a second. I’m not saying this team is a playoff team right now, but with the NFC North wide open with Rodgers out, anyone can make a run. They will need more from their passing game if they want to be a contender in the NFC North. That means offensively letting Trubisky show you why you drafted him 2nd overall. He is still getting acclimated to the NFL, but doing more of what he does best is key. The Bears defense is shaping up to be something very serious. They held the Panthers offense to 185 yards through the air and 108 yards on the ground on 30 carries and held Carolina to a field goal. That is pretty good with a Panthers offense that has some good weapons. As the Bears head into week 8 in New Orleans, I would love to see this Bears team play a complete game in all 3 phases of football. One thing is for sure, this Bears team is way more fun to watch then what we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the years. It’s so much fun watching them have their ups and downs and pull out wins. It gives you more of a feeling of the things that this team is lacking, which need to be addressed over the next few years. I’m going to enjoy this win, but it’s time to start looking at Saints tape. On to the next challenge for John Fox’s team. Back-to-back-to-back wins. Why not us, right? We have nothing to lose. #BearDown