5 Takeaways from Bears' Week 6 Win
The Chicago Bears are on a roll to open the 2020 season, and they've ascended to the top of the NFC North.
On Sunday, the Bears held on for a 23-16 road win over the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium. Chicago is now 5-1, a half-game ahead of the Green Bay Packers for first place in the NFC North. And in back-to-back weeks, it's beaten quality NFC South opponents, as it was coming off a strong win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Bears led by 14 points heading into the fourth quarter, and although the Panthers made it close, Carolina couldn't complete a comeback attempt against Chicago's stingy defense.
Here are five takeaways from the Bears' win on Sunday.
Nick Foles Is Continuing to 'Get It Done'
The way that Foles and the Bears' offense have been playing of late hasn't been great. And the 31-year-old quarterback isn't afraid to admit that. But he also realizes that it isn't the most important thing.
"Would you rather lose pretty or win ugly? I think that we’d rather win ugly," Foles said, according to Steve Reed of the Associated Press. "We want to improve. We want to get better. We want to have rhythm. But ultimately in the NFL it’s about winning games. It doesn’t matter how you do it. It just matters that you get it done."
Chicago benched Mitchell Trubisky after a 3-0 start in favor of Foles, who has gone 2-1 as its starter. And although he passed for only 198 yards and threw his fourth interception of the season on Sunday, he also threw for a touchdown and ran in another. His rushing score came with 1 minute, 44 seconds to go in the third quarter and extended the Bears' lead to 20-6.
Foles knows how to win games. He was Super Bowl LII MVP while playing with the Philadelphia Eagles for a reason. And as long as he keeps leading the Bears to victories, that is what matters most.
Another Tough Day for the Running Game
It was another tough showing for the Bears' running game, as David Montgomery has had trouble getting things going early in the season. He continued to get plenty of opportunities, though, rushing the ball a season-high 19 times for 58 yards and hauling in four passes for 39 yards.
Montgomery averaged only 3.1 yards per carry, marking the fourth straight week that he's been held to 3.2 yards per attempt or less. He also still only has two touchdowns (one rushing and one receiving), and he's gotten into the end zone just once in the past four weeks.
With Tarik Cohen (torn right ACL) out for the season, Montgomery was the only running back to get a carry in this one (Foles had five and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson had one). And with no other great options, Montgomery is likely to continue being the Bears' bell cow in the backfield.
Chicago is having success despite being ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing offense (90 yards per game). If the Bears could better establish a ground game, it would take their offense and play to another level.
First Career Touchdown for Cole Kmet
Kmet was a second-round pick of the Bears in the 2020 NFL draft, getting taken with the No. 43 overall pick. So, it's clear that Chicago thinks highly of the former Notre Dame tight end, even if he hadn't gotten involved in the offense much in the first five weeks of the season.
In fact, Kmet had only one 12-yard reception in his first five career games, and that came back in Week 2 against the New York Giants. On Sunday, though, Kmet had a moment he'll never forget, scoring his first career touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Foles on the Bears' opening drive and giving them a 7-0 lead.
Typically, veteran Jimmy Graham is in at tight end for Chicago in red-zone situations, but Kmet got this opportunity and made the most of it. He finished with two receptions for 20 yards, and perhaps he'll keep getting more involved as he gains more NFL experience.
With Montgomery, Graham and top wide receiver Allen Robinson II getting many of the targets, adding another viable option in the passing game could make the Bears' offense more difficult to stop, so perhaps Kmet can help fill that role later on.
Defense Makes Big Plays, Confirms Elite Status
There's a primary reason the Bears are 5-1, and that's the play of their defense. They now rank seventh in the NFL in yards allowed per game (337.2). Oh, and they're also taking the ball away from their opponents now, too.
After forcing only five turnovers through the first five weeks, Chicago forced three against Carolina, with Tashaun Gipson Sr. and DeAndre Houston-Carson notching interceptions and Akiem Hicks recovering a fumble. And the Panthers' offense is a talented unit led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, running back Mike Davis and wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, so it wasn't an easy task for the Bears.
Chicago's takeaways also came at great times. Gipson intercepted Bridgewater 1 minute, 35 seconds into the game, allowing the Bears to seize the momentum early and take a quick lead. And Houston-Carson's interception came on the first play of Carolina's final possession with 1:32 to go in the fourth quarter, quickly putting to rest any idea of a Panthers game-winning drive.
It was already known that the Bears have a strong defense this season. But they're continuing to prove it week after week.
Pushing Toward a Playoff Berth
There had been some who questioned whether the Bears were a legitimate playoff contender, but at this point, they're proving they're a threat to make the postseason in the NFC. However, their schedule is going to get more difficult down the line.
Over the next three weeks, Chicago plays a trio of quality opponents in the Los Angeles Rams (4-2), New Orleans Saints (3-2) and Tennessee Titans (5-0). Then, the Bears have five games against NFC North rivals over their final eight weeks.
Chicago's only division game so far was against Detroit in Week 1, which it won 27-23. It still has two matchups against Green Bay (4-1) in Weeks 12 and 17, which could be huge in deciding the NFC North title.
Regardless of how it turns out, the Bears proved they're a solid team with their win over the Panthers (who entered on a three-game winning streak), and they could be heading toward their second playoff appearance in three seasons under head coach Matt Nagy.