I tried to do this for last week's game, but I got back late from Indy after attending such a bittersweet game & had a hectic week last week. I'm aiming for this to be a weekly product.
- I want to start with Kevin Payne because had I done this last week, he was going to be my ONLY complaint about the entire Indy game. He looked lost at times against the Colts and it showed on Indy's only touchdown to Wayne when he was caught standing flat-footed for a good 2.5 seconds before reacting to Wayne running right in front of him for a touchdown. I wasn't able to see any good angles of it on replays from NFL Replay or highlights, but it was very clear on the jumbotron at the game that he was having a brain cramp and standing still during that touchdown. That being said, WHAT A TURNAROUND and what a difference a week makes. Payne looked solid in the 1st half of this game helping with the run on multiple plays in the 1st two series, forcing the Tillman interception, and a solid tackle on the running back late in the 4th quarter on a 2nd and 4 that lead to a Carolina punt.
- Mike Brown looked a lot more involved this week in blitzing and roaming the secondary. He didn't stand out much in the Indy game. Obviously the 2 blitzes he had he got a great hit on Delhomme on Carolina's first series and had a nice uncontested sack in the 4th quarter.
- Briggs got bowled over on a block on Carolina's 2nd series; hopefully that is a one time thing, at least it was the rest of the game.
- The Bears Special Teams had an overall good game, obviously with the blocked punt, almost another blocked punt, and very good downfield coverage. The penalties with the blocks in the back hurt (Kellen Davis and Brandon McGowan were the culprits) and Rashied Davis managed to get in the way of a potential TD return for Manning late in the 4th quarter, which I'll get to later.
- Alex Brown had a solid game with a nice sack, pass deflection (always getting those big paws up), and snuff out of a swing pass.
- Forte had a nice spin move for 7 yards on the 1st offensive series, a nice cut on the 18 yard run in the 2nd series, and showed some nice cutback & vision on a 15 yard run to start the 2nd half. He had some nice runs that were unfortunately called back on holds as well. This guy is the real deal and I believe the sky is the limit for him.
- Greg Olsen. Enough said. He gave away 10 points on the field with his 2 fumbles. Just like in baseball though, you gotta keep going back to him and I hope those fumbles don't hinder the Bears' confidence in him. A guy has a rough outing, you gotta go right back to him. He and Rashied Davis get my "Bonehead Players of The Week."
- Rashied Davis had his worst game as a Bear in my opinion. His best play was an end-around for 17 yards early, and that was a gift by the DE for Carolina biting badly on the fake handoff. It was all downhill from there. He dropped a sure 1st down to open the 2nd half, had a BAD hold on a Forte run in the mid-4th quarter, and he got in the way and slowed up Manning on his kickoff return in the late 4th quarter, as mentioned earlier. "Bonehead Player of The Week" honors indeed.
- On the flip side, Brandon Lloyd showed some great ability and was robbed of a touchdown that went to McKie. He had the ball across the goal line before he was touched on a 3rd down pass, but overall he had some nice catches.
- I'm not sure how much his preseason injury is affecting him, but Mark Anderson is not looking like '06 Mark Anderson at ALL. He didn't get any pressure on Delhomme and he got pushed right out of the way on Stewart's first touchdown. I know we saw some regression with him last season, but I was hoping it was a Sophomore Slump. Here's to hoping that's still the case.
- Tommie Harris also seems to be one step too slow right now. He left a couple sacks on the field on Sunday. Here's to again hoping it's the nagging injuries and surgery that are slowing him early.
- I had a friend say he thought the fatigue from the heat set in for the Bears in the 2nd half and I think it might have to an extent. The defense was missing tackles and reverting to arm tackles a lot after stuffing the run game the entire 1st half.
- One note on Carolina's team, their punter had one hell of a game. He had some nice punts placed out of bounds when Hester was in, had nice hangtime on others, and left a lot of punts inside the 20.
- Along with that, 7 of the Bears' 13 drives started inside the 20. The average start for the Bears was their own 14 in the 1st half while starting drives on their own 18, 12, and 10 in the 2nd half. No drive started past their own 40 except after the Tillman INT and the Vasher punt return. So we'll see, depending on how long he's out, how much not having Hester will affect our field position that our offense so desperately needs.
- Now on to Orton. He clearly had guys wide open and forced passes into double coverage at times while almost throwing interceptions a couple of times. He missed Booker and Davis on some throws as well. It seemed like his deep ball was sailing 10 yards to the sideline. He missed a sure touchdown on a pass in the endzone in the 2nd quarter, but instead forced it to Davis into double coverage. For some reason he fell in love with the hitch screen to the WR as well today. I'm not sure on his audible calls either. The FOX broadcast noted that Carolina's defense was picking up on them and his audibles were used multiple times, most notably the hitch pass. Then he calls out blitzes, but he failed to call out the one on his intentional grounding. I'm not sure how much he will progress over the season, but there is a lot left to be desired when it comes to Orton's passing game. The Booker overthrow was even harder to swallow because he had NO pressure on him prior to the pass.
- One observation I took from the Indy game was the Play Action to the Halfback, pass to the Fullback in the flat. It worked with Greg Olsen on a nice 3rd down conversion in Indy, and they set that play up for the 4th quarter call to it on a 3rd down where Indy snuffed out the flat pass to the Fullback McKie and Indy missed Clark slipping through the back of the play on his catch to the 1 yard line to seal the game. It brought back memories of beating the Packers in Green Bay last year. As for the play itself, the play worked for 5 and 7 yards early in the game. Thus leading me to my Final Thought at the end. My personal feeling is they should've called a run, not with McKie which they ran earlier in the game on a 3rd and 1, or used the Play Action to the Halfback, pass to the Fullback in the flat. Very questionable playcalling at the end.
(I noticed the Referees may have screwed us on some field position on Maynard's punt that went out of bounds in the 4th quarter. Clearly the shadow shows the ball going out at the Carolina 24. The Referee stepped it off to the Carolina 35 instead, while hesitating at the Carolina 29. I think he was confused himself and may have guessed. The dagger to all of this was Carolina getting called for unnecessary roughness, backing them up from their own 35 to their own 20. Had the punt been correctly marked as going out at the 24, they would've had to start their drive inside the Carolina 15. Then who knows how things go from there with Vasher's punt return or the Bears' field position to get into Field Goal range to tie it.)
Final Thought: I don't know why, but it seems to be a trend for the Bears. They get in too much of a hurry when they get close to the 2 minute warning, almost going into panic mode. You don't have any timeouts with the clock running down to the 2 minute warning; yeah, so what? They rush to the line to try and get plays in before the 2 minute warning, but what for? You need 3 points to tie, a TD to win. You're already at the 50 yard line with 2nd and 1 to go. Why not take your time get a breather, go over your last number of plays you want the rest of the drive, and go to work 2nd and 1 with 2 minutes to go? This all brings me back to an early season occurrence last year in the Week 1 San Diego game. Up 3-0, shutting down San Diego, the Bears got an 11-yard pass to Benson (I know, mind the name for the story). They have the ball 1st and 10 on San Diego's 32 yard line with the 2 minute warning approaching. Instead of, once again, letting it get to the 2 minute warning and setting up the next plays for the rest of the drive, the Bears go into panic mode and hurry to the line and throw an interception at the San Diego 1 on a pass to Berrian where he looked like he was confused on the route and wasn't in sync with Grossman (again, I know, mind the names for the story). Case in point, the Bears need to manage the game better and stop worrying about the 2 minute warning and trying to squeeze plays in before it reaches the 2 minute warning.
As for Turner, I think the firing calls are a little premature. The Bears HAVE progressed as an offense with implementing the Shotgun formation. Not too long ago they REFUSED to use the Shotgun. I think Orton changing the play on Turner was partly to blame, but I also think the panic mode played into it as well. Bottom line is they should've never been in a 4th and 1 situation, and when there, they obviously should've opened up the play call more than a McKie run up the gut.