by Carlos Nazario
After struggling the last two weeks, the Bears offense is hoping that the Carolina Panthers have the cure for what ails them.
The Panthers owned the worst record last season, and as a result they drafted Cam Newton with the overall #1 pick. Cam then proceeded to break the rookie record for yards thrown in his first game, and threw for over 400 yards in his first two games.
Newton did come back down to earth in week 3 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He only threw for 158 yards against a mediocre defense. The elite Bears defense will go out and try to teach the kid some lessons on the field.
That defense will need to take over this game and have the offense work out its problems. It is similar to last season, when the Bears went to Carolina in week 5 after they had a 10 sacks, 110 total yards debacle against the New York Giants. They were in a midst of losing 3 out of 4 game stretch and that one win was against…yep, Carolina.
Again, it is imperative that the offensive line allow Cutler some time to find an open man. When he does, however, the open man must make the catch. The Bears are third in the league in most drops (5), and that must change for the Bears to have success.
Another thing that must change is the Bears run game. The last two weeks it has been putrid to the point that offensive coordinator abandoned it and just had Cutler throw, throw, and throw. Marion Barber, who was brought in to help Matt Forte, has yet to play a down due to injury, but has been practicing fully this week so he should play. Hopefully with him in there, teams cannot just focus on Forte and that should bring improvement.
Julius Peppers started his career in Carolina and last year had a 4 tackle, 1 interception game. He will anchor the Bears defensive line that must put the pressure on Newton to force the rookie into making decisions quicker than he wants. Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher have been great so far and look to continue their play.
It should be a pretty ugly game on Sunday, with many mistakes committed by both offenses. I see the key to the offense being Robbie Gould. He should rest well on Saturday because he might be kicking quite a few field goals if the Bears cannot punch the ball into the end zone.
The biggest excitement coming from this game may be the coaching matchup. Panthers coach Ron Rivera played ball with the Bears and coached under Lovie Smith. There were whispers in Chicago that Rivera was making a run at Lovie’s job and Rivera suddenly was shown the door. Rivera readily admits that the game on Sunday will not be just another game.
Do not expect any fireworks from any of these offenses so the score should be 16-6 Bears. Excuse me while I go buy some NoDoz in preparation for this game.