There’s no doubt that the Chicago Bears’ 34-29 victory over the Carolina Panthers was an exciting one. But, with the Bears’ defense allowing rookie QB Cam Newton to throw for 374 yards and a touchdown, it was by no means a convincing one. Especially with the 4-0 Lions, led by Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, coming to town on Monday night.
For the first time since 2008, Chicago had a touchdown from all three phases of the game, something head coach Lovie Smith likes to see. And that’s really the kind of team the Bears are right now. Until the offense shows consistency from game-to-game, this team needs production from all three phases to be successful.
Hopefully, the career-high 205 yards Matt Forte rushed for will be just what the doctor ordered.
The biggest problem the Bears have had, offensively, has been identifying their game. Given the improved but still somewhat bleak state of the offensive line, and the need for talent at the wide receiver position, the offense has to use the success in the run-game to open up doors elsewhere.
Forcing the Lions, who are currently giving up 133 rushing yards per game, to respect Matt Forte and Marion Barber will be key next week.
Despite allowing the Panthers to pad their stats, the Bears were the ones who walked away with the victory. And, despite having left some plays on the field on Sunday, there were a lot of great performances worthy of the game ball…
Bears fans said it from day one: pay the man! Matt Forte thanked his fellow offensive linemen on Sunday for creating space for him to run, but it was Forte who turned decent runs into big gains. Forte had 228 total yards from scrimmage on Sunday and leads the team in both carries and receptions. Every time this guy gets a chance to prove his worth, he does it. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Bears have an elite player on their hands.
The greatest return man in the game continued to leave his mark in the NFL record books on Sunday, setting the all-time record for punt returns for touchdowns at 11. Hester also currently holds the combined kick/punt returns for touchdowns record with 15. A wide receiver, he is not. An electrifying and game-changing player, he is.
D.J. Moore was chomping at the bit to square off against rookie quarterback Cam Newton all week. He talked a lot about creating and capitalizing on mistakes, and that’s just what the defense did. On a tipped pass from Brian Urlacher and/or Lance Briggs—both were in the mix—Moore came up on the spot and caught the ball, taking it 19-yards for a touchdown.
Tillman had a great game, with at least seven tackles and two passes defended on the day. The guy hasn’t missed a beat this season. Officially, Julius Peppers was credited with a blocked punt vs. the Panthers, of which Tillman was also at least in the mix. It’s hard to keep talking about guys getting older when the Bears veterans continue to be the best players on the team.
Against the Panthers’ admittedly sub-par defensive line, Lance Louis was a star on the Bears’ o-line, as far as I’m concerned. He will get to hear all about his missed assignments on Monday when the team reviews the film, but for the most part, it should be abundantly clear that he was the best player on the offensive line yesterday (close second would be Roberto Garza). Coming off the bench cold—his first game in two weeks—Lance Louis stepped in at both right guard and right tackle on the day, and he may have officially pushed Frank Omiyale out of the starting RT position. Quarterback Jay Cutler was mic’d up for the performance and was heard telling Louis, “Way to step in there today. I’m proud of you.”
Random notes and observations
- Brandon Meriweather can expect to be fined on at least one helmet-to-helmet hit, and possibly another late hit.
- Brandon Meriweather can also stop trying to impress everyone and actually tackle someone … it was not a good day for the veteran safety to say the least.
- Of course, with Devin Hester hitting on the next return, all is forgiven. But, Chris Conte cannot be given a free pass for slowing down and missing (or not even trying) a key block that would have sprang Hester for an earlier return for touchdown.
- Chris Williams had a much improved game against the Panthers’ defensive line on Sunday. Hopefully he can keep it up…
- Frank Omiyale is done playing in the NFL, right? Right?...
- The Bears are now 16-4 when they score a defensive touchdown.
- The Bears defensive line has to be greatly improved against the Lions next Monday night. They cannot allow Matt Stafford the kind of time he’s had in recent weeks.
- Bears run defense also has to get much better. They are currently ranked 24th in the league and allowing 124.2 yards per game, rushing. The team finished second in the league in that category just a year ago.
- Didn’t think we’d be talking about the defensive line as an area of needing improvement, did you?...
- It may just be one little play, but I’ll take what I can get: Cutler and Knox connected on a nice mid-range pass to the outside, perfectly executed in my humble opinion. Cutler put the ball slightly up and towards the sideline (away from the corner) and Johnny Knox went up and brought it down. Nice to see Knox make that catch and expose his body like that. KEEP IT UP!