Good: Offensive coordinator Mike Martz’s first drive called for nine run plays on 78 yards, resulting in three points. Each of the nine plays stayed on the ground. Matt Forte shredded apart the Panthers porous run defense. 205 yards on 25 rushes, was good for more than eight yards per pop. He even executed a key fourth-and-one in the fourth quarter to help put away the game. Where would our offense be without the Tulane alum? Good to see Marion Barber play, and score a touchdown late. Jay Cutler only got sacked once, and hit just four times.
Overall, it was a simple offensive game plan that worked. The added threat of a run game now opens up things for the passing attack down the road. Also, it preserves Cutler’s body. Guard Lance Louis returned to action, and looked sharp opening holes for Forte. The other guard, Chris Williams, finally looked like one, as he played exceptionally well at times. Tight end Kellen Davis and center Roberto Garza were on the move all day long, pulling in the run department. Back to Cutler, he looked crisp on three third down completions to Sanzenbacher and Knox (two) for first downs.
On defense, both Urlacher and Briggs were active and consistently around the ball carrier. Cornerback D.J. Moore was “at the right place, at the right time” with a pick-six. In the end, the “Windy City Flyer” Devin Hester made things happen. What a player to watch! Hester returned a record-breaking punt for six and nearly took back a kick (hesitated, took it out six-seven yards deep) to pay dirt – which three plays later, led to a touchdown by Forte.
Bad: Guard Chris Spencer (hand) left the game early in the first quarter, but returned wearing a cast. Steve Smith is a tough guy to tackle and defend, but the Bears forget about the fundamentals when trying to take him down. Many of his 181 yards were after first contact. The 53-yard reception was a total blown coverage assignment by Brandon Meriweather, who slowly but surely is making me regret the signing of the ex-Patriot safety. We need Chris Harris to return – Meriweather is backup at best, who’s only asset (if you can call it that) is going for the knockout hit every play.
No matter what the situation was, Cam was able to elude the pass rush. Give him credit, however, our defensive line is wearing down and is not getting the pressure it needs to get in order for the Cover-2 to work. If we don’t blitz, then we have to rely solely upon the front four. Against Newton, we weren’t really even close to generating sacks. Next week in Detroit, we better get after Stafford. Time to step up Julius, Henry, and Israel. Also, where is Amobi Okoye? All in all, zero sacks and zero QB hits. With our injured and below-average secondary, our defensive line has to play better. Speaking of the secondary, I think it’s time for Tim Jennings to take a seat for Zackary Bowman. Give me size and strength with #35 over the undersized Jennings. Safety Major Wright came back from injury, but looked very timid and was silent for most of the afternoon. Personally, I would like to see Chris Conte receive more of a chance. Something needs to be addressed, after awhile, I stopped keeping track of all the 20+ yard plays via the air by Cam and company – which compiled 543 yards of total offense.
As for our run defense, we were lucky the Panthers didn’t give Williams and Stewart (18 carries, more than seven yards per carry) more touches. They made it look too easy. The line of scrimmage was won by the Panthers. Offensively, Cutler threw a pick on a high pass and forced a couple of bad passes – what else is new? Sanzenbacher dropped a sure first-down pass, which is unusual for Dane. In conclusion, I have only three words for tackle Frank Omiyale: grab some bench! He is by far, hands down, without a doubt, one of the worst starting offensive tackles in the NFL.
Next: 2-2 Bears @ 4-0 Lions, Monday October 10, 7:30 CT