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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.

Go Broncos!


Anonymous said...

I don't think we can let Ron Turner off the hook. We had talked off-Blog about his pattern of opening the game passing, and while I understood the plan and even admired some of the aggressivebess, I expressed concern that they weren't establishing the strength they had shown during their win streak: run the ball.

So what does he open the game with? Not only three straight passes, but not even high percentage throws, a bomb and another deeper pattern. And of course 3 & out--in fact, I believe, 4 out of the first 5 drives were 3 & out. Unacceptable, especially considering the D was toasted early, and clearly not its dominating itself. They needed balance and some clock eating.

And gee whaddaya know, during the middle portions of the game when they had their 3 scoring drives, there was more balance. They got the ball in Thomas Jones' hands more. Someone said it earlier this year, that if Turner has a weakness it's that he overthinks, and we saw that yesterday, and throughout the year at times. But when he keeps it simple, focuses on balance, he can do a very nice job of mixing plays--which is why I was happy he came here. All I want to see is an offense that can, you know, throw when the other team is thinking run and run when they're looking pass! Simple and effective! Balance and rhythm! Turner can do this, if he would just stop making it harder than it has to be.

Even before this game, in my mind the Bears top off-season priority is depth and talent in the secondary. Azumah is most likely gone, and appears to have a chronic hip condition anyway. Mike Green is so gonna be cut. Tillman was the weak link all year, and sorely exposed yesterday--in fact he was flat out pathetic (that's a whole other posting, really)--so a future upgrade is needed. And if they can grab a CB who can double as a returner, all the better. Then look at WR, again, looking for someone who can return kicks as well if possible--though isn't Randle El a FA? That would solve two holes and be a great pickup for this team. Then worry about TE, and then the overlooked need is really depth at LB. Briggs is most likely gonna bolt for more dough after next year, and I shouldn't have to see Leon Joe as the first LB off the bench when Hunter got hurt.

And really, seeing Chris Thompson, Joe, & Eddie Berlin out there at key moments, and what we saw collectively in the Minn game, this roster certainly could use some depth.

And it would be nice if the defense had more than one look--this isn't the first time Lovie's been exposed like this (wasn't it the Panther that did it in Stl as well)? Anyway, again, that's a whole other topic...and I'm rambling...bad sports weekend in Chicago...and I'm crabby.


The Zoner said...

all good points. Things you can never have enough of: CBs and linemen. Randle El is indeed a FA. Green is indeed on the bus--he apparently missed his assignment on the Steve Smith 20+ yard end around.

The Armchair Quarterback said...

I still can't believe Grossman didn't play last week. If there ever was a time to risk injury in favor of getting more reps in, that was it. I don't know if it would have made a difference but it seems like common sense.