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Get to Know: Chicago Bears

Posted Oct 16, 2017

Following a mini-bye week, the Panthers take on former head coach John Fox and the Chicago Bears.

Trubisky taking off

The Bears (2-4) appear to have found their new franchise quarterback, or so they hope. In just his second start, former Tar Heel quarterback Mitch Trubisky led Chicago over the Baltimore Ravens in overtime. 

“Being here since 2013, I’ve definitely understood the obsession with the quarterback position in this town,” guard Kyle Long said. “Mitch is a young guy with a lot of talent and this is a town that’s hungry for success in their sports, especially football. And I think they see a beacon of hope and light with Mitch Trubisky.”

Numbers don’t tell the whole story for Trubisky’s first two games. In his two starts, he’s thrown for a combined 241 yards and two touchdowns, all while completing less than 50 percent of his passes. His stats aren’t jaw-dropping, but it’s his confidence and in the pocket and ability to evade pressure that’s encouraging.

Trubisky’s lone touchdown pass Sunday, a 27-yarder to tight end Dion Sims in the third quarter, showcased all of the rookie’s strengths: mobility, accuracy, and arm strength.

"On that play, my first read wasn't open," Trubisky said. "The second read was also covered. I was running out of time and I saw Dion wide open. I just threw the ball up there, and he made the catch. I didn't even see the catch because I was on the ground. I'm looking forward to seeing it on the highlights." 

Defense dominant at times

Despite allowing 24.7 points per game, the eighth highest total in the league, the Bears rank sixth in total defense. Chicago shined in Week 6, limiting the Ravens to 291 yards of total offense while holding quarterback Joe Flacco to 180 yards passing. Flacco was sacked three times and threw two interceptions, one that was returned for a touchdown, and finished with a 48.8 quarterback rating. 

While the defense played well and created turnovers, the unit has struggled to find consistency. Three of the Bears’ six takeaways this season came against the Ravens.

"It's been an emphasis for us," linebacker Danny Trevathan said. "We've been playing good defense, but turnovers take a lot of momentum out of offenses, and that's what we want to do. Our defense has been working its tail off. We've been just trying to fly around, get to the ball and bring it to our offense." 

Familiar with Fox

John Fox is a name Panthers fans know well. The former head coach led Carolina to its first Super Bowl appearance to cap the 2003 season. Fast forward 14 years, Fox is now coaching the Bears.

The game this weekend will mark the first time since 2012 that the Panthers have squared off with Fox (who was with the Broncos) and only the third time in franchise history Carolina has faced a former coach (The other was Dom Capers in 2003 with the Texans).

“We loved him as a coach," linebacker Thomas Davis said during Super Bowl 50 week. "I know that to a man as players, I don’t think there was one guy on that team or that I know that ever played for him that disliked Coach Fox.

“I’ve said this before: Coaches don’t get fired because they can’t coach. They get fired because you don’t perform well as players. And we owned that. We didn’t play well enough for him to keep his job.”

A special opportunity

There’s only one team in the NFL that has allowed both a kickoff and punt return this season – the Bears. Chicago's special teams unit struggled against the Ravens, who returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown.

While the Panthers haven’t returned either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown yet this season, Christian McCaffrey is always a threat to do so.