In Week 6, the Chicago Bears hit the road to take on the Carolina Panthers. The Bears emerged victorious, 23-16, and improved to 5-1 on the year. For the Bears it is one of the hottest starts in franchise history. The story in this game was the Bears defense holding an explosive Carolina offense at bay to only 16 points.
The Bears showed dominance from the first drive, a Bilal Nichols sack which led to a Tashaun Gipson Sr. interception on the next play. Khalil Mack also recorded a sack following his best game of the year against Tampa Bay. The Bears finished with 4 sacks and 3 takeaways. Gipson Jr. recorded an interception, as well as DeAndre Houston-Carson to seal the victory. Eddie Jackson forced a fumble on Mike Davis that was recovered by Akiem Hicks. This was the Bears best defensive performance, in terms of takeaways since the 2018 season.
The defense also shined in the red zone, holding the Panthers to 2 fields goals before a touchdown in the second half. The lone Panthers touchdown was set up by a controversial pass interference call against Jaylon Johnson in the endzone, placing the ball on the 2 yard line.
Heading into this game, the Panthers had a top 10 offense in the NFL led by the newly acquired Teddy Bridgewater and Robbie Anderson. Also an offense that features players like DJ Moore and Mike Davis. The Panthers were again without all purpose back Christian McCaffery who was out with an ankle injury.
The Bears offense again looked sharp to start the game, but looked out of sync at moments too. Tight End Cole Kmet caught his first career touchdown on 3rd and Goal on the Bears opening drive. The Bears also struggled to get much of a run game going early in the contest, an area where Carolina has struggled defensively. Nick Foles again had an average game, showing great moments of consistency in the 1st and 3rd quarters, but bad plays in other key moments.
A highlight of the Bears offensive struggles was a Nick Foles interception that was forced by pressure, instead of taking the sack or throwing the ball away Foles tried to force the ball downfield. But the Bears also finally scored in the 3rd quarter on a Foles quarterback keeper on the goaline. Heading into Week 6 the Bears were the only team without a 3rd Quarter score of any kind.
The Bears were able to get a run game going late in the game, with David Montgomery gaining 6-7 yards a carry in the 4th quarter. Play calling also had some head scratching moments with Coach Matt Nagy calling a passing play on 3rd down instead of a run late in the game. Despite all of this, the Bears walk away with a win but there is still a lot of room for improvement.
The Bears needed to keep the aggressiveness on defense, forcing turnovers and sacks. Jaylon Johnson, had an overall good game but needs to recognize that he is being targeted by opposing offenses and be careful with interference calls.
Offensively, the Bears need better play from the offensive line in the run game, the Bears line did not allow any sacks this week, however they need to step up and get a better push in the run game. David Montgomery has shown the ability to break tackles and fight for yardage, but he still needs key blocks to get a consistent rushing attack. Nick Foles is a veteran and some of the mistakes he has made is beyond the experience he has. Play calling and personnel usage needs to be addressed. With a 4th Quarter lead late in the game, the Bears need to run the ball and force teams to use their timeouts. Finally, Cole Kmet should be used more in the passing game to compliment Jimmy Graham.
The Bears are 5-1 now and prepare to take on the Los Angeles Rams next Monday night in Los Angeles.