Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down: Week 4 Panthers, Victory Edition

If I don't split this up into offense, defense and special teams segments, I'll lose track. Let's start on the defensive side of the football.

  • I'll say this right now. Cam Newton is the real deal. 6'4", strong arm, mobile, can make throws, and he has room to improve. Even on his overthrows, he was putting the ball where it otherwise had to be. Strong game on his part - 27/46, 374 yards, and 8 carries for 35 yards and 2 TDs. He is hard to bring down.
  • I'm not sure I like the whole Meriweather/Wright at safety thing. One distinct time, Meriweather tried the "collision" tackle technique - you know, the one where he runs into a receiver and hopes that is enough - he simply bounced off, and Steve Smith was able to get some more out of the run. Another play, I saw some helmet-to-helmet with Smith on the sideline where I was expecting a flag. Harris coming back would help solidify the secondary against Detroit next week.
  • Don't look too strongly at the yardage/ToP numbers for this game. They'll say the Panthers should have won this game going away, and who knows, maybe they could have. But the Panthers had two extra drives over the Bears thanks to DJ Moore being in the right place at the right time and Devin Hester being ridiculous. That's enough to skew any offensive numbers.
  • That being said, however, the defense didn't have a good game. Where the Bears had a touchdown off special teams and a turnover, the Panthers showed they could go up and down the field with the Bears defense. Seemed like there was no answer for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, and one of the only things stopping the Panthers offense was throwing to Legedu Naanee - 4 receptions on 11 targets, including being the target on the interception when it bounced off his hands high. 543 total yards, 33:29 TOP for Carolina.
  • Steve Smith had another patented good game against the Bears - 8 receptions, 181 yards on 10 targets. I think Smith just caught another one, actually.
  • Sometimes the line had some decent pressure on the pocket, and other times it was like the line wasn't even there. Peppers had a fairly pedestrian game defensively, Melton got into the backfield on occasion, and on one instance Toeaina hit Newton on both arms and didn't bring him down. This on a quarterback who had been sacked eight times entering the game. It's not impossible, guys... This is the type of game where the other linemen have to step up when Peppers is being stopped. They just couldn't.
  • Seems like when DJ Moore is sent on the corner blitz, he either forces the quick throw or causes a little blocking trouble. He's got some speed off that edge, and it's nice to see.
  • The defense is just vulnerable to tight ends, it appears. Shockey and Olsen combined for 7 receptions and 91 yards with Olsen's last-minute touchdown. On the Shockey non-touchdown, I guess the penalty was called on the last little shove-off where Tillman went sprawling - I was surprised they called it.
  • Is Idonije a one-year wonder? Yesterday, two tackles and one TFL. So far on the year, one sack through four games and 8 tackles. He doesn't seem like he's winning as many of the battles as he needs to one-on-one.
  • On to the offensive side... Let's get right to the playcalling. On 49 total plays, 18 were called passes and 31 were runs. Cutler's final stat-line, 9/17 for 102 yards and an INT. We signed back Todd Collins?
  • Of those 31 rushing attempts, 25 went to Forte, 5 to Barber, and 1 to Cutler on a QB draw. Well, it was certainly unexpected... The team had a 7.2 Yards Per Rush, of which Forte had an 8.2. Also, congratulations to Forte on his first career, and career high, 205 yards.
  • I didn't mind the QB draw - the little hesitation it took Cutler to get free, however, was all it took for him to get a nice helmetful of linebacker.
  • Speaking of hesitation, Forte showed some nice patience on an outside run when he ran right, waited for a spring block, then turned the corner and made a first down. He's one of the better ones at knowing when to head upfield.
  • Random running nugget, Forte entered the game with 35 attempts for 119 yards. As noted earlier, last season Forte went 22 carries for 166 yards. This game, 25 attempts for 205 yards. The 205 yards is also more than any other rusher Carolina has faced this season. Also, Forte surpassed his career high (also set last year against Carolina) in the early third quarter.
  • Don't tell me you didn't have a little alarm bell going off when Hester left with his arm dangling.
  • The running of the ball was nice, but it wasn't balance - it was more important than that. It was doing what is necessary to win the football game. It was especially nice to see the Bears able to effectively run the ball to close out the clock. Had a concern when Cutler threw to Kellen Davis low and it bounced, but if he hits that, it's a first down and the clock is still running.
  • I'm still bugged by timeout abuse. There was no reason to blow a timeout on fourth down on the 6 - kick the field goal, go up by 4, and force Carolina to get a touchdown to beat you. Liked the call to go for it on fourth and one on Carolina's 49 - you've been running well all day and should be able to get the one yard, but there was no need to even contemplate it down at the 6.
  • Offensive line musical chairs continues. Spencer left with a hand injury and Lance Louis took his place. Early in the second half, Louis shifted to right tackle, Spencer came in at right guard, and Omiyale was benched for a while. Through no coincidence, the one sack allowed was to Charles Johnson against... Frank Omiyale. Maybe Les can go into the line changes when he does Sackwatch this week, since with only one sack to analyze, it'll be a short post. The right side was a bit of an adventure all day, but not horrible, and the left side really didn't look too bad.
  • I guess Mike Martz was let out of the utility closet he was stashed in long enough to call pass plays on third-and-two and third-and-one when the run has been working till that point. I guess that's why I'm not an offensive coordinator.
  • For as much as we pan Martz for running inside all the time, when he did run Forte outside, 17-yard touchdown. The Panthers struggled against the run all day just as the Bears did.
  • The Bears were 3-10 on third down and the Panthers were 2-12. Not a good day on third down for anybody. 3rd and 1 was converted on a drag to Sanzenbacher that went 16 yards, 3rd and 2 in the 3rd was converted on another short pass to Knox for 22 yards, and 3rd and 3 was incomplete to Sanzenbacher later in that drive.
  • Seems to my untrained eye like Cutler is seeing ghosts in the backfield, still feeling the pressure before he needs to. Charles Johnson had a pretty good game working against Omiyale and Louis, but on a couple throws including the interception, it seemed like Jay's pocket-awareness-clock was ticking a little faster and he rushed his throws.
  • I keep going through the play-by-play and I'm not sure if my eyes are deceiving me. Did J'Marcus Webb really not give up a holding penalty all game and did Omiyale really not get whistled for a false start?
  • On Special Teams, Baker's fourth quarter punt was quite possibly the hardest-struck 34 yard punt I have ever seen - it was estimated in my living room the punt went 60 yards total.
  • Think about this. Between defense and special teams, the two units scored 14 points (field goals excluded) and prevented another 6 between the blocked field goal and Mare's 52 yard miss. 
  • On the block, what was Mare doing kicking it that low? It wasn't exactly a long attempt, only a 33-yarder, and it's not like there was a massive wind to drive it through. Well done on Peppers on the block, at least he hit the stat sheet in some fashion. Is Jordan Gross really that good of a left tackle? Peppers had a few plays where he got close to Newton, but was largely unheard from during the game.
  • Devin, congrats on the record, but the first somersault was fine, the second was pushing it, and the third was egregious. The German judge gives it a "Nein!"
  • That being said, I thought he should have knelt on the kick seven yards deep in his end zone, but he's shifty enough to make it work, getting people sliding one way then bursting another, break an arm-tackle or two and he'll get to the opposing 40. Exact same thing on the punt return.

That's what I've got, folks. The Bears are 2-2 and heading into a contest next Monday night against the 4-0 Detroit Lions, which is not the gimme we've expected the last few years - rather, should be a really tough game. What did you notice about yesterday's game?

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