Big Day for Jackson propels Bears to ugly win

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Carlos Peterson, Sports Editor

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Takeaways are the lifeblood of an elite NFL defense, something the Chicago Bears have struggled to do under Head Coach John Fox. Ranking in the bottom three in the league in takeaways, the Bears while talented defensively, haven’t been able to create opportunities for their offense. Now with a young and highly touted quarterback in Mitchell Trubisky, they must have short fields for a quarterback still on a steep learning curve. This past Sunday against an elite Carolina defense the Bears would need to give their young quarterback as much help as possible. That’s exactly what they would get.

Entering the game on a hot streak, Cam Newton and the Panthers came to soldier field looking to beat on a depleted Bears roster. The weaponry of Carolina on paper seemingly would overwhelm the young Bears defense. Players such as running back Christian McCaffrey, who leads all NFL running backs in receptions and quarterback Cam Newton, who’s been lights out on the road this year, presented a real problem for John Fox’s staff. It would be interesting to see how Cam would take advantage.

The Bears opened the game by frustrating Cam Newton with consistent pressure from their front seven. Linebackers Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee disrupted Cam with a sack in the opening quarter. The frustration for Newton would continue when they ran a triple option play on first and ten to rookie Curtis Samuel who fumbled the pitch. After some juggling of the ball by players on both sides, the rookie safety for the Bears, Eddie Jackson scooped up the ball for a 75 yard stroll into the end zone putting the Bears up 7-0 early in the contest. It was evident early that the Bears defense was ready to swarm the offensive attack of Carolina.

The Bears offensively were doing what they had done since implementing Mitchell Trubisky into the starting lineup, doing their best to take the game out of his hands and into the hands of second year stud running back Jordan Howard. Howard rushed for a career high 167 yards on a career high 36 carries in last weeks win over Baltimore, so it was easy to see why the staff felt comfortable letting Howard shoulder the load of the Bears offense. Howard controlled the pace of the game against Carolina with his physical and patient running style, bruising his way to 65 yards on 21 carries.

Carolina would continue to shoot themselves in the foot as Cam forced a questionable pass to receiver Kelvin Benjamin that was tipped high in the air by Bears corner Prince Amukamara. The ball would find the hands of rookie Eddie Jackson once again, as he would catch the tipped ball and take the ball on another house call for a 76 yard touchdown. Jackson became the first defensive player in NFL history to take two 75 yard plus touchdowns with the interception and fumble return on Sunday. The feeling was starting to become that the Bears defense had turned the corner.

The defense wouldn’t hold onto the shutout as they relinquished a field goal at the end of the first half but everyone in the stadium knew that the Chicago defense came to play. In their only solid drive of the game, the Bears offense would hit a huge play on a post route to rookie running back Tarik Cohen for 70 yards. In one of only 4 completions on the day for Trubisky, he was able to look off the safety and throw a nice pass to Cohen. This was an outlier for the game, Trubisky was only able to attempt 7 passes on the game. Perhaps this is an attempt by the staff to protect the young quarterback however, he has shown promise so it’s starting to look as a ploy to protect the jobs of the current staff.

The first half would be the only source of action in this game, the second half was a back and forth between the two teams to see who could play worse offensive football. Cam would throw yet another interception to linebacker Danny Trevathan on play that was the icing on the cake for the upstart Bears. Although there is more to be desired from this team, nothing can be taken away from the fact that this team is starting to find ways to win games.