The Chicago Bears got a dose of humility yesterday at the hands of the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field. The Chicago Bears were as unbalanced and undisciplined as ever and really gave us a glimpse of doom and gloom to come. Oh yeah, and they won the game.
Media will take credit for the Martz 180 degree turn with the running game, but to me the offense didn't work yesterday. If not for a defensive touchdown, a kick return, a blocked field goal and a phantom offensive pass interference call (on Shockey), this game would have had an entirely different outcome. Hey, if you add Hester's kick-off return into Panther territory, that's another gimme score for an inept offense. Against a disciplined playoff team, the Bears get blown out at home.
I think offensive coordinator Mike Martz is a super smart ass. He heard the league chatter. He heard the media outcry. He even listened to his coach talk about running the football. So he gave everybody what they wanted. You want to run? Fine. I'll run every play. Enjoy your Bears.
I know there is a love affair in this town for 'running the rock' and playing tough defense, but let's be frank - the Bears haven't won this way. The years they went to the Super Bowl or went deep into the playoffs were years where the running game was fantastic, but they also had the ability to stretch the field. Willie Gault and Bernard Berrian both made deep plays for a living. Now, we have the patented Johnny Knox game (3 catches for 45 yard) and Roy Williams, who has caught under 5 balls this year. Jerry Angelo - this is on you.
This is not a loveable team. Cutler looks pissed from the first snap. The defense is looking slower and older, and the disturbing 'blown assignment' trend continues in the secondary (Didn't we get rid of Danieal Manning because he blew coverage? Just checking). Don't get me started on the clock management. This is bush league football.
The positives: Matt Forte and Devin Hester. The offensive skill positions show up in a big way to dominate the game. Forte was given the ball a slew of times and his 200 yards led the Bears to victory, almost single handedly. But what makes this lopsided offensive production any better than the last game? Oh, the W.
I will say something controversial here: I don't want to see Forte run up 200 yards and have our star passer (in a Martz system btw) throw 17 times. That's very Todd Collins-esque. Say what you will about Cutler and the team's problems, but this is not the long-term answer. Throwing the ball around is not a bad thing. Look how many times rookie QB Cam Newton threw the ball. And they, too, had a very successful running game. As a matter of fact, I haven't looked it up but I can guess that Cutler had the least attempts of any starting QB in the league yesterday. That's not what we paid for.
Now maybe this is a long-term strategy for the Bears. The Lions will have something to think about as they prepare for the Bears next week.
How hard is it to get 150 yards rushing, 300 yards passing, 30 points a game? Our defense could win with that, right? Well, at least be within a TD.
Anyway, I'm blah about the Bears being 2-2. Here are some random observations from yesterday's game:
- Devin Hester, you are (still) ridiculous! (trademark, Joniak). I think it's time that Joniak gets a pro account at Cafe Press and just mass produces the hell out of some Devin Hester gear. T-shirts, mugs, pencils, underwear, etc.
- So where do you stack Devin Hester among the all-time Bears? Is he above a Jim McMahon? Below a Walter Payton. How about Urlacher? Definitely above any WR or TEs the Bears have ever had (sorry Iron Mike). I would go:
- Urlacher (or Brad Muster)
- Brad Biggs reported via Twitter that the Bears shook it up in the pre-game and introduced the special teams unit to the crowd. The team responded with a punt return for a TD, a huge kick return, a blocked field goal and impeccable kick coverage. Introduce them every week til they screw up, will ya?
- Was there a chant of "Shockey sucks" yesterday at Soldier Field? Um, why? What do we have against that guy?
- Greg Olsen reminded us why we needed an upgrade at that position. Olsen made mistake after mistake for the undisciplined Carolina Panthers. I think he had two penalties on the first drive and couldn't stretch to get a first down late in the first half. Sure he scored a nothing TD late in the game, but for any fan saddened by his departure - I hope you feel better now.
- So we learned something yesterday: Mike Tice is a great offensive line coach for a power running game. He just doesn't know how to coach up pass blocking. Awesome. Will someone please call this out? Is Tice really such a golden child to the media that he can't be touched. That line couldn't block when Cutler dropped back to pass. Seriously, that's a joke.
- The Bears are not playing the run well. It's a cutback issue. When a running back hits a hole, the Bears seem to stop it. But the Bears have been exposed to a cut back, delay type of run that is freeing up running backs into the secondary. What is behind that? Have opponents figured out a weakness? Because Ryan Grant and DeAngelo Williams gutted the Bears on almost every run. This is alarming.
- Did you see the Lions big comeback win in Dallas yesterday? QB Matt Stafford threw into triple coverage and WR Calvin Johnson came up with it. And on the winning TD, Johnson went airborne and made a huge catch falling straight on his back. Wow, what a difference a receiver makes. Quick pop quiz: What happens when Jay Cutler throws into triple coverage? Or when Cutler throws high? Angelo, this is on you.