Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011Posted: 6:30 p.m.
By Jim Miller
I warned everyone about being a little nervous facing the Carolina Panthers. Now you know why. Carolina has a different type of offense that did get physical with the Bears, while churning out over 500 yards of offense. Thankfully, the Bears had solid performances from special teams and their run game, which required very little help from Jay Cutler.
There is nothing better in football when you have to protect the lead and turn to your four-minute offense. Offensively, some of your biggest runs come at this point in a game. Two of Matt Forte's biggest runs came with five minutes to go in the game when teams typically turn to their four-minute offense to close the game out.
First and 10 with ball at the Chicago 40, Forte rips a 20 yard gain off left tackle with 5:06 left on the clock. The next play was a 4-yarder off right end. The Bears eventually had to punt after a penalty on this drive, but it took almost two minutes off the clock.
The best run came the very next offensive series when the Bears really went 'Heavy personnel". Offensive lineman Lance Louis reported as an eligible tight end. With a little more beef, Carolina knows it's a run and Forte still gutted the Panthers with a 40-yarder with under 1:48 left on the clock. It was beautiful to see and the benefits of consistently running the ball throughout the duration of the game payed huge dividends late in the fourth quarter when Carolina simply wanted no more.
Jay finished with the most important statistic, which is the "W". He did not have to be Superman against the Panthers, but he didn't have to be Peter Parker either.
By Executive Order, the gameplan going in was to run the ball. Jay just needed to manage the game and his throwing opportunities when they presented themselves. He seemed flustered early when the protection did not hold up and I thought it affected some of his throws later in the ball game.
It's easy for me to say sit in there and set your feet, but it is very difficult to trust seven-step drop pass protection considering all the breakdowns the last two seasons. Therefore, I thought he was seeing some ghosts and feeling pressure that was not there. The interception Jay threw in the second half would be my example.
Jay sensed a need to shuffle right, then left before delivering the ball. The pass protection on the play looked fine. By falsely sensing pressure, it screwed up the timing of the throw, and Jay did not properly reset his feet to deliver an accurate ball down field. The ball sailed high, got picked off, and gave Carolina another opportunity.
I'm sure Bear fans just want to see how good this team can be ifwhen they put it all together offensively. They come a little closer by knowing they can run the football. Next on the list to complete is third down conversions and scoring. Bears are worst in the NFL right now at converting third downs.
But, that will have to wait until next blog......
Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on Illinois Back Institute Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.