Bears News: Eberflus on win over Panthers, talks Sweat's impact on defense
Daniel Bartel - USA Today Sports

Bears News: Eberflus on win over Panthers, talks Sweat's impact on defense

by - Correspondent -

CHICAGO - Something about Thursday Night Football just works for the Bears this season. This is the first year a team can play multiple times on Thursday night in one season and that is something Chicago is taking advantage of. The first time, they defeated the Washington Commanders 40-20 for their first win of the season. This past Thursday, Chicago beat the Carolina Panthers 16-13 to achieve their third victory of the season.

Beating the Panthers has the additional implication of impacting the NFL Draft order. Chicago has Carolina’s first-round pick and the way things stand, Carolina and the Arizona Cardinals are the only two teams with one win. The Cardinals will have starting quarterback Kyler Murray back for the first time this season; thus, they are poised to get more victories. Therefore, the Panthers are the most likely candidates for the No. 1 overall pick, meaning Chicago will have the No. 1 overall pick for the second season in a row.

Chicago acquired that pick from the Panthers in the trade that sent wide receiver DJ Moore to the Bears. Currently, Moore is the top receiver for Chicago with 793 receiving yards, averaging 79.3 yards per game. His production has gone down quite a bit in the absence of quarterback Justin Fields, who has missed the past four games from a dislocated thumb. However, the mini bye should help him to be able to return against the Detroit Lions on Sunday November 19 (Noon / FOX).

Head coach Matt Eberflus declined to give an update on Fields, but things do seem promising.

“We’ll see where it is this week. We’ll see where it is and it’s a big week to make that evaluation,” Eberflus said. “So, we’ll see where it is and when Justin’s healthy, he’ll be our starter and we’ll see where it goes.”

In the meantime, rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent had a good bounce back against the Panthers after having a disastrous fourth quarter against the New Orleans Saints in week nine. With 1:26 left in the game on third down with seven yards for the first, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy decided to put the game in Bagent’s hands and it paid off. Rather than the conventional move of running the ball on third down since the Panthers were out of timeouts, Getsy called for a pass and Bagent completed it to receiver Darnell Mooney for a first down.

Eberflus explained the reasoning behind throwing it instead of running the ball.

“If you decide to run at that time, then you’re going to punt and pin and they would have had a minute 10 with no timeouts and hopefully on the 10-yard line if we punt it right. So, that was the idea there,” Eberflus said. “We liked the play call, we discussed it and we went for it and I thought it was executed well. Mooney made a beautiful catch and he’s one yard past the sticks and sealed the game. So, really good play call by Luke. Excellent execution by the o-line and the entire offense and Mooney on the catch and Bagent on the throw.”

Defense was key to this victory. In a game where the offense was only able to muster one touchdown all game, the defense stepped up and only allowed three points, not counting the special teams touchdown. They also had three sacks, although rookie cornerback Tyrique Stevenson and linebacker Jack Sanborn each dropped an interception. So, that could be an area to improve on.

Still, the addition of edge rusher Montez Sweat has greatly helped the defense overall. According to Next Gen Stats, Sweat generated eight pressures going against quarterback Bryce Young. That was the most by a Bears pass rusher since Robert Quinn back in week 13 of the 2020 going against the Lions. In total, he has 45 pressures this season which ranks fifth in the NFL.

Eberflus believes the three team sacks are a result of Sweat and the disruption he is causing in the backfield.

“He’s really starting to free guys up, which is what a good rusher does,” Eberflus said. “It really starts to free guys up on the inside, on the other side, because he draws attention and just the way he rushes and again, I think his impact is going to be more and more as we go.”

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