Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Bears Sucked But At Least 24 Kicked Ass

If you would have told me before the game today that the Bears would score 21 points, I would have told you that the Bears should win the game easily. Sadly, that did not happen, and in fact, it was the Panthers that won easily.

The difference in the game was in the trenches. Unlike the first game where the Bears got 8 sacks from their defensive line, the Bears generated only 1 sack today and Delhomme for the most part had plenty of time to get rid of the ball. The inability of the Bears to get to the quarterback had a lot to do with the adjustments the Panthers made from the first time they played the Bears. In the first game the Panthers thought their offensive linemen could block the Bears defensive linemen one on one and they were dead wrong. But in this game you saw the Panthers' offensive linemen getting a lot more help from the running backs and tight ends, which slowed down the pass rush of the Bears front four. The Bears failed to adjust to the Panthers adjustments and they paid a big price for it to the tune of 29 points given up and over 400 yards given up.

But the defensive woes can't be all laid at the feet of a poor pass rush. The secondary was awful, particularly Charles Tillman. I don't know what happened to the Charles Tillman who ripped the ball away from Randy Moss in his rookie year, but it appears that Tillman has been spending quite a bit of time at the Clifford Jefferson School of Cornerbacks. The Bears might need to address the cornerback position in the offseason because you can not have a dominant defense and have one really vulnerable cornerback. The one thing that I did not understand at all in the Bears defensive gameplan was their strategy for Steve Smith. You know he's going to get the ball. The Panthers have no other receivers, yet it seemed like he was being single covered on a lot of the plays and that is just piss poor coaching. Smith should have been at least double covered every play and preferably tripled covered. Let Ricky Proehl beat you.

On the offensive side of the ball, there were a lot of encouraging signs. After a shaky first quarter and a half, Rex Grossman looked like a young Brett Farve, firing darts to wide open Bears wide receivers. I don't think you could have hoped for a much better performance out of Rex Grossman. Thomas Jones also ran the ball very well, though, I was surprised at the lack of carries he had early in the game, especially with Grossman struggling with his accuracy. The one big negative for the Bears offense today was the dropped passes. They just dropped too many balls and they do not have the talent on offensive side of the ball to make up for that. That being said, I think the tight end position and the wide receiver position will be two of the Bears biggest priorities in the off-season and I would be shocked if Justin Gage is starting opposite of Muhammad in Week 1.

Despite another disappointing Bears playoff defeat, the future looks bright for them. They have only one starter that's an unrestricted free agent: offensive lineman Terrance Metcalf. They're also going to have a lot of cap space, which gives them all kinds of flexibility to address some of their big needs like another wide receiver. Most importantly, this team is still real young. This was one of the youngest teams in the league and with the recent strong drafts of Jerry Angelo, this team should only get better.

On a side note, the season premiere of 24 helped get rid of the bad taste in my mouth of another disappointing Bears playoff performance. Just an absolutely thrilling 2 hours and the potential is there for this to be the best season of 24 yet. Hopefully, the plot won't become nonsensical like last season.