DA BLOG: Bears Look to Bounce Back Against Panthers
Houston, We Have a Problem
After two straight wins on the road, the Chicago Bears were blown out at home by its rival the Green Bay Packers with a final score of 38-17.
Aaron Rodgers extends his record against the Bears to 10-2 and had a field day (302yd-4td) against the Bears’ defense that did not produce one sack, turnover, or even a punt. The Bears offense didn’t do them any favors and could not keep up with the Packers. Jay Cutler reverted into his former self, throwing two interceptions on critical drives.
Defense has been a point of emphasis in Chicago after a historically bad defense last season, but has it really improved? Statistically, the defense is slightly improved and has played a huge role in both of the Bears victories this season, but when it was crunch time against not only the team’s biggest rival, but also the defending division champions, the defense was torched on every level. The Bears spent big money on Lamarr Houston to bring a physical presence to the defensive line, but he has been quiet thus far this season. He wasn’t even on the stat sheet against the Packers. That means no tackles, no quarterback hurries, nothing. Someone is to blame, but it is too early in the season to put it on anyone in particular. Bears fans can only hope Houston remembers that he is not in Oakland and has much higher expectations playing in the Windy City. The Bears put a lot of faith (money) into him. He needs to perform at a much higher level, or else Houston—and the Bears—will have a problem.
Thankfully, there were some positives to build off of after such a disappointing loss. The running game found its way into the Bears offense for the first time all season. Forte racked up 122 yards on only 23 carries with an average of just over five yards per carry. Speaking of carries, rookie Ka’Deem Carey had his first touches as a pro churning for 72 yards.
Carolina on their Mind
The Bears will travel to Carolina to face the 2-2 Panthers for their Week 5 match-up. Although they don’t play each other every year, these teams are familiar with one another. Their head coach, Ron Rivera, was the Bears defense coordinator for many years before getting the job in Carolina. Also, their tight end Greg Olsen is a former Chicago first round pick and was arguably the Bears’ best receiver during his tenure in Chicago.
Carolina has had some bad luck with injuries this season with both of their top running backs (De’Angelo Williams and Jonathon Stewart) ruled out for the game on Sunday. Darrin Reaves will get the start at tailback; this will be his first start as a pro and was signed off of the practice squad just two weeks ago. His backup will be Chris Ogbonnaya who was just picked up off the street on Monday. This should be good news for the Bears defense as they look to improve from their poor outing a week ago. Cam Newton has been dealing with an ankle injury himself and this has limited the Panthers’ offense considerably. If Newton’s ankle feels better the Panthers will open up the playbook and run some read-option. They were excellent at it a year ago, but with Newton’s ankle being an issue they have steered away from that approach.
Nobody will question that Marc Trestman is an offensive mastermind, but is he an average head coach? He had some god-awful decisions last season that most fans shrugged off because it was his first year as a head coach in the NFL, but has he learned from his mistakes? If last week’s game was any indication, the answer is a flat-out no. Last week he made a few questionable decisions. First, he did not challenge an obvious first down that occurred right in front of him. Second, in their final drive of the first half, the Bears were driving into Packer territory. The Bears had all of their timeouts; they used one with 56 seconds remaining. They ran the ball deeper in Packer territory, but Trestman let the clock run to 26 seconds until he called another timeout—wasting about 25 seconds. The end result was the Bears going into the half empty-handed with a play that was just inches short of the goal line. Thirdly, he threw a challenge flag on a play that was automatically reviewed in the booth, a decision that cost the Bears a timeout in the second half. All of these decisions have to raise the question if Trestman is cut out to be head coach. Trestman has done great things with the Bears offense, but he still needs to become a much better game manager, learn from his mistakes and grow as a head coach.
Bears Run Game vs. Carolina Defense
Last week the Bears got the running game going for the first time all season. This needs to continue this week against a Carolina defense that has given up almost 400 yards on the ground over the past two weeks. They should continue to feed Forte the ball in order to win time of possession. Look to see if rookie Ka’Deem Carey continues to have a role in the offense building off of last week’s success.
Cam Newton vs. Bears Secondary
If Cam Newton’s ankle is still an issue, the entire offense will lean on his arm because of the Panther’s injuries at running back. If Newton can do what Aaron Rodgers did against this unit a week ago. the Bears are in serious trouble. Hopefully with a bad taste in its mouth, the secondary gets it together and will hold Newton to reasonable numbers. Watch for Newton to pick on the Bears’ nickel corner Isaiah Frey, as he has been a weak spot in the defense in the two games he has played.
Bears 24 Panthers 21
This weeks question comes from Brandon Hazlett (@b_haz_it_all )
How much did the Bears miss Jared Allen against the Packers and how big of an impact will he have next week?
Great question, Brandon. I believe the Bears missed Jared Allen considerably last week against the Packers. Especially if you take in account that when he is on the field, he almost always gets a double team against him, leaving someone with a one-on-one matchup. Without Allen in the lineup, the Packers line was able to focus on the other linemen more, which obviously was an issue for the Bears, who failed to tally a single sack. If Allen plays on Sunday, look for him to at the very least attract that double team and create more favorable matchups for the Bears defense.
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