Yes, the Bears vaunted defense, the Cover 2, was indeed more like the cover zero. I give massive props to John Fox, Dan Henning and the rest of the Carolina staff. They obviously not only did their homework but also crafted a winning gameplan.
Maybe they did take the Bears for granted the first time they played them. Maybe that was the best thing that could have happened to them. I wouldn't be surprised if they beat Seattle next week. The so-called experts know a thing or two about a thing or two. I couldn't figure out why so many predicted them to go to the Super Bowl. But a great coaching staff, a killer QB-WR combo and a stifling defense will get you there.
The Panthers were the ones who played more physical on defense. Their corners simply beat up the Bears wide receivers. Berrian played great but was punished for his brilliance. Gage looks as if he needs some serious weight training. There were a number of balls thrown his way that he should have caught and didn't.If you were a viewer at home unfamiliar with Gage, I bet you would be shocked to learn that he carries about 215 lbs. on a 6'4" frame. He plays smaller and does not seem as strong as the DBs.
Delhomme and Smith were amazing. It's hard to fathom how open he was at times. The Panthers decoded the Bears 'system' and found all the holes. Plus Delhomme had plenty of time to throw the ball. The Bears mustered only one sack and not much pressure at all. Carolina also ran sufficiently and got some timely big runs from DeShaun Foster. They smoked the Bears for almost 450 yards of offense. If you would have told me the Bears would score 21 points I would have guaranteed victory. It was an amazing performance by the Panthers.
The defense's poor play lets Ron Turner off the hook. I had been so certain he was going to craft a great gameplan for this week. It seemed instead the Bears wanted to deceive the Panthers with long passes first and in hopes of that opening up some running room for Thomas Jones. It was odd. I thought it was evident what would work for the Bears. Run the football and create play-action pass opportunities for Grossman. Instead they chose to go pass crazy and the result was Grossman starting out 3-15 for 2 yards. No matter your stance on Grossman, and I like him a lot, it seems foolish to let him shoulder the offense after sitting out last week and playing only 6 quarters the whole year.
Oh well. It was a much better season than most anticipated and there certainly is plenty to look forward to next year. I hope the Bears draft a stud TE in the first round and even with Mark Bradley returning I think another WR is definitely needed.