By Jeff Joniak —
(CBS) The Bears (2-4) host the Panthers (4-2) on Sunday at noon. Here are my observations leading into the game.
— The play of Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller is getting a lot of attention. Teams are coming after him, but he’s holding up well. Now tied for the most-targeted throws in his direction, per Stats Inc., Fuller is permitting a completion rate of just 46.7 percent with seven pass breakups and one touchdown allowed. That’s outstanding.
— After running it 53 times in a win against the Ravens on Sunday, the Bears now are third in rush play percentage, which also means they’re 30th in pass play percentage. The “whatever it takes” philosophy is being embraced by players, who were said to be dialed in to their preparation for the Ravens last week. Now, the Bears have to consistently be ready to do whatever it takes to win.
— Tied with the Bengals in forcing the most three-and-outs in the league with 21, the Bears have been as good as any team in getting off the field and turning it back over to the offense. The sixth-ranked defense might even be better if it hasn’t had so many short fields to defend this season due to turnovers by the offense.
— Tarik Cohen is the best playmaker the Bears have in the mind of offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Now, it’s a matter of how creative Loggains can get with Cohen without taxing his mental preparation, not to mention his physical punishment. Cohen is now on every defensive coordinator’s radar, which could open up some plays for other players on the Bears offense or set up bigger plays throughout the game.
— Running the ball is clearly the bread-and-butter of the Bears offense, but they still have had 30 attempts that have produced negative yardage (minus-83 yards). It’s the most in the league. Loggains admits that the negatives need to be cleaned up, which will come with more time working together as a unit. Running back Jordan Howard only had 24 negative runs or stuffs all of last season but already has 17 in the first six games despite his excellence. That also speaks to the eight- and nine-man defensive fronts teams are using to try to stop the Bears.
Jeff Joniak is the play-by-play announcer for the Bears broadcasts on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter @JeffJoniak.