The Chicago Bears hadn’t won a game in 11 months, but they finally came through on Sunday afternoon as a Robbie Gould field goal lifted them to a 22-20 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
With the afterglow of victory still burning strong, we’ll take a look at three positive developments from the game.
Pass Rush Continues to Improve
The Bears’ pass rush was sorely lacking in the opening week of the season, but they’re slowly coming around as they continue to gel as a group in Vic Fangio’s new 3-4 defense.
The biggest contributor to this surge in effectiveness has been Pernell McPhee, who was all over the field on Sunday as he disrupted several plays and grabbed his first interception as a member of the Bears. He also racked up eight total tackles and a tackle for a loss during the contest as he continues to show himself to be the cornerstone of this defense.
Ryan Pace certainly can count McPhee as a free agent hit thus far, and Jarvis Jenkins also fits that bill. Known primarily as a run-stopper, Jenkins has gone from a player that would likely only line up against the run to a guy that is versatile enough to handle pass rushing duties as he picked up his third sack in two weeks when he drilled Derek Carr during the game.
Eddie Goldman also had a good game up the middle for the Bears, picking up a sack of his own as he continues to play in relief of Jeremiah Ratliff.
The Bears are slowly adding more creativity and effectiveness to their pass rush, and if they continue this progression, then this could eventually become a strength of the team when they add more weapons in the offseason.
Eddie Royal Providing Serious Punch at Receiver
The Bears have been dealing with a slew of injuries at the wide receiver position this season, but Royal provided some excellent play for the Bears during Sunday’s game. He ended up with seven receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown in the game, but it was his ability to elude tacklers and grab first downs that really stood out.
Royal got things started early in the first quarter when he snared a pass near the five-yard line, and he found his way into the end zone to give the Bears an early lead. He hauled in a similar catch later on in in the quarter to get a first down, taking advantage of a big Matt Forte block on the right side of the line to turn the corner and get enough yardage to keep the drive going.
Royal also caught a key pass on a 3rd-and-8 situation late in the game, and although this particular drive ended abruptly because of a Jay Cutler interception, it was just another example of Royal doing what needed to be done to help the Bears win.
When Alshon Jeffery returns to the lineup, Royal is going to be a tremendous weapon for the Bears out of the slot, and with his speed and elusiveness, he will add a big-time threat that Adam Gase will be able to exploit as the season wears on.
Robbie Gould Dazzles in Big Performance for Bears
Some NFL kickers would get unnerved if their first extra point attempt of a game was blocked, but then again, Gould isn’t most kickers.
The veteran special teams ace was in fine form after his first kick of the contest was batted down by the Raiders, drilling three field goals and knocking through a 49-yarder to clinch the Bears’ first victory of the John Fox era.
After struggling in the preseason, there were some questions over whether Gould would become a liability for the Bears this season, but he has been anything but. With kickers all over the NFL missing simple kicks and struggling because of rule changes, Gould has been remarkably consistent for the Bears, and he has been one of the team’s biggest bright spots so far this season.