Some thoughts and observations after watching the film and going through the stats of the Bears’ 17-3 win against the Panthers on Sunday (as also shared on Twitter):
1. Rookie safety Eddie Jackson felt due for a big game. But that big? Wow. The Bears moved him up their draft board late. He could end up being a big Day 3 steal.
2. The Bears highly valued Jackson’s return ability. He has a knack for big plays. You saw that with his juke of quarterback Cam Newton.
3. For the third consecutive week : Bears defensive lineman Akiem Hicks is a Pro Bowl player.
4. In the first half, the Panthers converted 5 of 9 third downs. In the second half, they converted 1 of 6. The Bears’ defense was dominant.
5. Bold statement of the week: the secondary has become the new strength of the Bears’ defense. The rush of the front seven is now being aided by the coverage.
6. Cornerback Kyle Fuller has been terrific, but cornerback Prince Amukamara is quietly stacking together good games.
7. The list of defensive players who stood out against the Panthers goes on and on: Jackson, Hicks, Fuller, Amukamara, Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan, Christian Jones …
8. And Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and even Jonathan Bullard, who surpassed Mitch Unrein in snaps 38 to 28.
9. The play disparity between the Bears’ offense and defense was significant. The offense had only four plays in the second quarter and six in the third.
10. Bears rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky was very critical of himself after the game, and here’s why, at least in my opinion :
10A: Trubisky missed an open Zach Miller on the third-and-seven play from the Panthers’ 25 that resulted in a sack and then Connor Barth’s blocked 52-yard field goal.
10B: Trubisky missed an open Tanner Gentry in the back of the end zone on the third-and-goal play from the Panthers’ 2 that turned into his overturned touchdown run.
10C: Trubisky got away with a bad touch pass to Miller on the second play of the third quarter. Cornerback James Bradberry should have made an interception.
11. I was struck by the simplicity of the Bears’ offense especially considering how much variety Trubisky provides. Nine of Trubisky’s 14 drop backs were out of shotgun.
12. I also only counted two play-action plays — one being Trubisky’s overturned touchdown run and the other resulting in a sack in the third quarter.
13. Running back Tarik Cohen was on the field for only seven offensive snaps. He dropped two passes to go with his 70-yard reception and a 10-yard catch that was negated by a penalty.
14. Despite the offensive struggles, there is a positive vibe around the Bears. Players know Trubisky will get better; defense can be special.