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Bears Vs Panthers: Notes, Scribbles, and Things Jotted Down

"This game required a time to stomp on the throat of the Panthers. Instead, what happened was the Bears helped the Panthers up, and then gave them the knife." We're going through our notes and other minutiae from yesterday's game against the Panthers.

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

  • Wow, where do you begin with a game like that. I'll just offer a quick summation here: This was a game the Bears have no excuse coughing up. A 14-point lead, the defense is forcing pressure, forcing turnovers and clamping down on a hobbled Cam Newton... Then the Bears missed a field goal and the Panthers scored before the end of the half, scored another touchdown to tie the game, and the Bears suddenly forgot how to advance the football. The Bears were scarring the Panthers on Matt Forte swings and pitches and screens the entire first half, so in the second half the Panthers took those away. The Bears' counter-adjustment? Continue to try to do it. I shouldn't be seeing a 3rd and 9 toss to Matt Forte two yards over the line of scrimmage with Luke Kuechly bearing down on him with the game on the line. 3rd and 1, toss to Forte to the three-wide side, snuffed out for a loss of two.
  • I'm not saying this like I'm dissatisfied with Matt Forte's overall production (166 total yards and a touchdown on the day, although that fumble in a crucial, crucial spot, Matt...), but the Bears went to him 29 times on the game - 17 on the ground, and 12 in the air. 62 plays, and 29 of them went to Forte. Especially on the receptions, I think they figured out what was happening.
  • Where was any of the downfield game? The Bears got one outstanding deep catch/play in the first quarter by Alshon Jeffery (and what a one-handed catch that was), but no other actual deep attempts? Matt Forte had a 56-yard reception that was largely YAC. Jeffery had a 31-yard reception, and a couple of other long YAC runs. But the Panthers had no reason to respect a direct deep game, because the Bears weren't trying to play one. The question becomes, why not? Was it that the screen game was working earlier and just a little more effort and they'll spring more? Or was it that they think the Panthers will play the deep game and get after the passer, so the screen gets the ball out quicker? Either way, it's a component of the offense that was drastically missing from the Bears, and it bit them both in their choice to play more conservatively and in their execution of that plan.
  • The thing is, this is the second game in a row where the offensive wheels have fallen off in the second half, in a season so far marred with offensive inconsistently from the unit everyone and their grandmother was counting on to retain any sense of continuity. It's one thing to lay blame on the defense for not being able to get stops and for giving up the lead. It's another thing when the offense that's putting 21 points on the board in the first half is struggling to put up three points, much less pick up a first down. When the Bears are forcing three straight punts after giving up the lead and re-taking it on a field goal, the offense can't follow that up with "Punt, Punt, Interception, Fumble, Fumble." The offense can't get 102 second-half yards, 53 of which come on one drive to get a field goal. After the Panthers' third quarter touchdown, the Bears allowed 70 yards, and 10 points on the interception/fumble/fumble sequence that ended the game.
  • That time is when the offense is supposed to execute in all its glory. This game required a time to stomp on the throat of the Panthers. Instead, what happened was the Bears helped the Panthers up, and then gave them the knife.
  • Then again, I'm not sure what we're expecting out of this team this year. They play undisciplined. They committed ten penalties to the Panthers' three - and this was one of their more disciplined efforts, not taking into account two blatant special teams errors by two new signees that probably shouldn't be in a Bears uniform come Tuesday. When things work, they work spectacularly. When they don't work, they fail spectacularly.
  • May as well start with the "punt return fumble where's the football oh look there it goes" touchdown. If you don't hear a whistle, and you see a football unattended on the ground, pick up the football. I was half expecting no one to pick up the fumble forced by Willie Young.
  • The two Jay Cutler interceptions, I feel like both eventually fit into the "Bad throw, really bad throw" crowd, and both go on Cutler, though both do have a set of extenuating circumstances. The first one I was surprised there was no defensive pass interference call, as the ball hit the defending linebacker in the back of the head - how is that consciously making a play on the ball? The second, Santonio Holmes could have been the victim of at the minimum defensive holding. But both were bad throws; the first into triple coverage, someone could have easily been open (Maybe to Jeffery instead?) or placed it a little higher up as opposed to on the linebacker's helmet, while the second was overthrown to Holmes, period - maybe Marshall or Jeffery get to it, but not Holmes.
  • Speaking of Jeffery, getting him in space with Marshall and Martellus Bennett in front of him making blocks is a beautiful recipe for a touchdown. I know Marshall's been dinged, but is it wrong that I feel more comfortable right now when a ball is headed to Jeffery than on a throw to Marshall?
  • I'm still waiting for someone to actually find Greg Olsen on the field and break up a pass to him or at the least cover him. I was surprised to see him credited with only 6 receptions, because it feels like everywhere I looked, there was Olsen catching something with about ten yards of space around him. I saw Tim Jennings matched up on him a couple times, and I laughed. Olsen was huge against his former team.
  • Kyle Fuller did a really good job matched against Kelvin Benjamin, except for the defensive pass interference penalty called on him in the end zone, which I thought was a bit of a phantom call. Isaiah Frey also came through with a turnover forced, finally, though we still need to see more out of him consistently.
  • Don't look now, but Jared Allen led the team in tackles, Willie Young picked up a sack/forced fumble, and Stephen Paea was left to take on a running back's block, shoved it off, and picked up a sack himself to push the Panthers out of field goal range. Not to mention Ego Ferguson with back to back pass deflections, one of which led to an interception by Lance Briggs. The defensive line did some things, such as holding the Panthers depleted and battered running game to 90 yards and picking up a pair of sacks on Newton.
  • So, Luke Kuechly is a good, good, good linebacker. Bears, please stop with throwing it to a receiver that's got Kuechly instantly bearing down on him.
  • I still think Chris Conte can play NFL football. I just don't know if he'll ever be consistently healthy enough to play NFL football for an NFL team.
  • The Panthers had one sack where they beat every single member of the offensive line, simultaneously.
  • If Eben Britton is just an alert telling the other team that you're playing with one less eligible receiver, that's fine, but when they can line a blitz up over him with no issues, playing Britton is a problem. I'm okay with Michael Ola on the team, but I'm not sure what Britton does as a "TE" if he doesn't at least carry some eligible threat.
  • Christian Jones got his "Welcome to NFL Playing Time" moment when he came in to the strong side in place of Jon Bostic, who left with a back injury, and was called for a face mask penalty that also may or may not have been phantom.
  • Speaking of phantom, not sure how a blindside block can be delivered to a guy's front. We'll have to check with Brandon Marshall about that. Also, I had never heard of that penalty before yesterday.
  • The Bears led in time of possession, as well - 32:59 to 27:01.
  • What we have here, in the end, is a prime case of putting yourself in a position to not succeed. Dumb special teams moments. Putting yourself in a position to have those penalties called. Removing chances to make plays with bad play calls or bad decisions on the field. The Panthers made adjustments, such as continuing to use their no-huddle and find a wide open Greg Olsen whenever they had to. The Bears did not, and couldn't get down the field when they had chances to add just seven more points to try to put the game away.

That's about all I've got to share this morning. What did you think of the game that pushed the Bears to 2-3?