CHICAGO -- Running back Matt Forte ran for a career-high 205 yards and a touchdown, proving he can carry the often-ignored rushing attack, while electric return man Devin Hester proved why the Chicago Bearsí special teams units rank among the leagueís most dynamic Sunday in the teamís 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers.
Here are a few quick-hitting thoughts from the game.
What it means: For a team that breaks the year up into quarters, it was important for the Bears to break a two-game skid to finish the first quarter of the season with a 2-2 record. In defeating the Panthers, the club proved it could improve upon several highly scrutinized areas, such as the ground game, pass protection and receiver play on offense.
Defensively, the Bears know they need to shore up a few areas. The secondary has been seemingly decimated by the loss of safety Chris Harris, and the front four hasnít generated sufficient pass rush to take pressure off the back end. The team is also allowing unacceptable numbers against the run, which is something the Bears hope to correct with extra prep time for next weekís game. Moore scores: Third-year nickel corner D.J. Moore definitely shows no problem morphing into offensive playmaker mode when he intercepts passes.
Moore returned his second career interception for a touchdown in the first quarter against the Panthers. With the Panthers backed up at their own 9, Cam Newton misfired on a pass that ricocheted off the mitts of linebacker Lance Briggs and into the hands of Moore, who raced 20 yards for the TD.
Moore now has five career INTs, with two returned for TDs. Ratio rectified: Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz took criticism over the past two weeks for a wildly lopsided pass-run ratio. Coming into Sundayís game, the team had run the ball 24 times in losses to the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers while throwing 82 passes.
Martz made amends for the play-calling mishaps against the Panthers, and the Bears benefited. Chicago ran the ball 12 times in the first half while passing on just four plays. Led by Matt Forte, the team averaged 9 yards per carry in the first half in rushing for 108 yards.
More importantly, the constant run threat kept Carolina's defense off balance. Perhaps thatís allowed quarterback Jay Cutler to complete three of the four passes he attempted in the first half.
For the game, the Bears ran the ball 31 times, netting TDs on the ground from Forte and backup Marion Barber. Secondary struggles: Despite increased focus on stopping Panthers receiver Steve Smith, the veteran still managed to haul in six catches in the first half alone for 132 yards. His 53-yard reception to start the second quarter set up a Newton 1-yard run which tied the score at 10-all.
The Bears did a better job on Smith in the second half by holding him to only one catch. Run D lackluster, too: Chicago entered Sundayís contest with No. 18 rush defense, and itís quite apparent the clubís ranking will drop further after a dismal performance against the Panthers.
Opponents averaged 109.3 rushing against the Bears over the first three games. By the end of the first half Sunday, the Bears had given up 100 yards to the Panthers, which were averaging 6.3 yards per carry.
Given Smithís preference to snuff out the run above all else, look for this team to spend extra time working to correct run fits in the week of practice leading up to Monday nightís showdown with the Detroit Lions. The Bears have been gashed two weeks in a row now (the Packers rushed for 100 yards on the club last week), and it appears teams are using wider splits along the offensive line to exploit the run defense. Whatís next: The Bears face the Detroit Lions on the road on Monday night in a crucial NFC North clash. Chicago trails both the Lions and the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North standings. So the Bears canít afford to fall further back if they want to remain in contention for the divisional crown.
I can see the improved ground game but did this guy even watch the game or did he use the assumptive method of doing this article. Pass protection sucked again and receivers were their usual mediocre selves. Kind of hard to come to the conclusion that there was any improvement when all the WR caught were 5 passes between them.
On that pass/run ratio thing I've been thinking about that and I believe I know what happened there. Mike Martz is working off of a play calling system that takes into consideration only the average number of rushes per game on quarterly basis. Before the season began he promised Lovie no less than and average of 20 rushes per game. Coming into today he'd called 51 rushing plays over a three game period. Since that was an average of only 17 per game he needed to up the number of running plays this game in order to meet his quota and keep his headset. That meant he needed no less than 29 rushes this game to hit his target. Fortunately for Mike when we got the ball back late in the game Matt Forte bailed him out with a big gainer on the 29th rushing call and for good measure Marion Barber took two plays to get it in since he wasn't sure exactly where the count stood.
Those were the 30th and 31st rushes of the game which brought the total for this first quarter of the season up to 82 rushing plays or and average of 20.5 rushes per game. Following the game Mike replaced all of the passing play pages he'd taken out of his playbook for this game and breathed a sigh of relief. Lovie will now allow him to keep calling the plays for four more games. I swear this is how it went down!
I'm getting to that age where a lifetime warranty just doesn't mean as much to me anymore as an afternoon nap.
Honey Badger Don't Care. Honey Badger Don't Give a Shit.
One other thing, that I didn't know, Carolina was missing their 2 starting LB's according to the SCORE, think that might have made a difference? Ya. Again take the success of this game w/a grain of salt, much like the Atl game made our DL look better then it was, the lack of a good run D and missing two LB's made the run game look better then it really is. I still think Forte ends up w/4-5ypr if the LB's are healthy.
I think furthermore, you can deduce that if our OL was one of the upper echilon that if they went against a top DL that you would see Forte be able to do the same thing against them.