The Bears won yesterday, 34-29 over the Panthers. A lot of people might look at that and say "Well, a five point win over a so-so team isn't that great." True, their last score was a pure garbage time TD so it was closer to an 11 point win than a five. That being said, I am sure we were all happy to see the run game get going, happier still to see us get the W but let's face it, this team has a ways to go before we can start hanging with the elite teams.
Now, I hate to be "that sports writer," you know the one who pats himself on the back for making the right predictions the week before, but if you remember, last Monday I said "Cam is still a rookie, and while he's good, he isn't exactly a guy we should fear..he'll rack up yardage between the 20s but we can shut them down in the redzone."
While this wasn't entirely true, Newton racked up 374 passing yards and a TD plus he added 35 rushing yards and two rushing TDs but when it mattered the Bears defense stopped them. When the Panthers had their first crack at bringing the score within three, Julius Peppers blocked that kick and the defense made Carolina settle for three instead of getting a touchdown.
While this worked for the Bears this week, there is no promise that it will continue to work. While the offensive woes have been well-documented and there are still plenty to sort out, let's look at what the defense is not doing.
My big question is where is the pass rush? I mean, all preseason we were getting excited after watching the d-line get pressure and utterly dominating teams and now, since week one the line really hasn't done much.
Against Carolina the Bears got zero sacks. I understand that Newton is tough to bring down and is sneaky elusive but where is the pressure?!
The Panthers totaled 543 yards and so far this year they have given up 386, 382 and 392 yards in the previous three games. The great defensive line we were all expecting has eight sacks this year which puts them in a tie for 17th, which is mediocre and in total defense we rank 31st after four games, one spot ahead of New England. We also rank 24th in rush defense, which was a strong suit of this team last year and now we're giving up over 100 yards a game. We rank 29th in pass defense, giving up a shade over 300 yards a game there. Tim Jennings was getting manhandled by Steve Smith yesterday and at times, to me, Tillman looked just kind of old and winded. Merriweather looks like he tries to play safety by "well if I hit him hard enough it will make up for the fact that I was not covering that person AT ALL to begin with."
Now I know we are missing Chris Harris and you have to think he is better than Brandon Merriweather, but clearly these problems are bigger than one guy.
I really thought that after last season our only areas of concern were on the offensive side, but that is definitely not the case. Not to poop in the collective punch bowl, but I don't see a way this team can hang with Detroit yet, but that we will find out in one week.