We’ve spent the last two days focused on where the Bears need to improve. Today, I come to celebrate these first six weeks.
The Pass Rush
Defensive success in 2020 is predicated upon rushing the passer with the front four and Football Outsiders ranks the Bears as the second best pass defense in the league, predominantly because of the success they’re finding in the pressure department. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks have been as expected, and the Bears are getting pass rush contribution from unlikely sources like Mario Edwards Jr, James Vaughters and even Brent Urban.
What’s the most exciting thing about the pass rush? Robert Quinn is still being worked into the lineup and every time he gets on the field he makes an impact. When Quinn reaches 100% health, and sees his snap count tick up, the Bears will be the most feared front in the league.
The New Kyle Fuller
No one is surprised that Fuller is the team’s best cover corner, and one of the best cover corners in the league.
But did anyone see Fuller becoming the reincarnation of Ronnie Lott, delivering a crushing hit almost every week. Did anyone see Fuller making the kind of tackle he made on Teddy Bridgewater Sunday, keeping the Panthers’ quarterback out of the end zone and changing the course of the game?
Kyle Fuller can really do it all. pic.twitter.com/QZrgzzSGI2
— Bears Film Room (@BearsFilmRoom) October 19, 2020
Fuller, through six weeks, is in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. (I’m just not sure Aaron Donald will ever lose that award again.)
The Quarterback Change
Has Nick Foles been great since taking over at quarterback? No.
Has there been a discernible change when it comes to leadership? Absolutely.
Let’s take a look at what Foles has done since taking over.
- He led the comeback against Atlanta, throwing three touchdown passes.
- He made the crucial read on the crucial drive – highlighted here by Emmanuel Acho – to beat Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs. (The kind of read his predecessor never made.)
- He delivered a stirring press conference following the victory over Carolina that firmly established him as the team’s most vocal leader in years. This is what you expect from the quarterback position.
Foles will always be limited physically. He’s frequently going to take the quick, efficient option over the “shot”. But as the season progresses, and he becomes more comfortable with his receivers, the passing game should improve.
A tweet from Allen Robinson’s agent seems to sum up how important it was for the Bears to make this move WHILE ALSO winning.
This guy @NickFoles is just different. In a great way.. On and off the field, he is a💡.. No surprise that success seems to follow him.. 🙏🏾
— Brandon Parker (@B_Parker21) October 20, 2020
Cairo Santos: Not Bad!
Santos has not missed an extra point. He not missed a field goal inside 40 yards. Against Tampa, he made a pressure-packed game winner. Sunday, in Carolina, Santos banged home a 55-yarder with at least five yards to spare. After a somewhat shaky start to the season, Santos looks like the answer at a position that has haunted this franchise in the Matt Nagy era.
(This video might make you nauseous at the start but it gets steady when the kick happens.)
The Kids Are Comin’
Darnell Mooney is on pace for 80 targets, 48 catches, 523 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s one hell of a rookie campaign for a fifth-round pick drafted to a team with mediocre quarterback play. And one has to believe that Mooney is just scratching the surface of his talent as he adjusts to the competition of the NFL.
And Carolina should be the turning point for the Bears at tight end. The team can no longer wait on Cole Kmet and, perhaps more importantly, they can no longer rely on Demetrius Harris in the passing attack. It is time for Kmet to shoulder a full workload. Put the kid in the arena.
When Mooney and Kmet get more involved, the offense should become far more threatening.