The 1-2 Bears invite the Carolina Panthers into Soldier Field this Sunday (10/2 at 12:00 on Fox). The match up this week is much better than the previous two weeks but the 1-2 Panthers will present challenges on several fronts for the struggling Bears.
The Bears are not the only team struggling with the run this year. Although quarterback Cam Newton has racked up a solid 98 yards rushing in his first three games, his running backs are averaging a combined 51 yards per game so for this season. For a team with two above average running backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, this isn’t conducive to winning football games. The Bears defense should be able to shut down the run and force Newton to throw a lot. Hopefully he can be forced into making the type of mistakes seen by a typical rookie QB. The only problem is Cam Newton has looked like anything but a typical rookie so far this season.
With the offense struggling again this year, it is more important than ever that the Bears have a top ten defense. Early this season the team ranks in the bottom half of all major team defensive statistics. With Chris Harris out again this week the secondary will again be without its most experienced safety. If the defensive front four struggles to get pressure on the quarterback as it has the last couple weeks, even Newton will expose the weak corners and safeties.
I don’t know how Mike Martz is going to react to Jay Cutler’s comments this week. The only two people Martz probably concerns himself with are Lovie Smith and Jay Cutler. If Cutler stops supporting him, the offense won’t work. In the past week Cutler has made comments indicating his displeasure:
“That’s not my job; never has been. I never really wanted to be an offensive coordinator either. So this is Mike’s system. This is what Mike does. One-hundred percent, I’ve bought into it since the first day of install. I’m gonna keep believing in it, and keep trying to run the plays to the best of my ability.”
“I feel bad for (Forte) right now because he wants the ball, he wants to help out and we’re not giving him a lot of opportunities.”
With Marion Barber back this week the team should have better success. But if the offensive line can’t keep the Panthers defense out of the back field even another runner won’t help. If the yards per carry aren’t there early, Martz might forget about Cutler and Smith’s problem with a pass heavy offense and do what he likes to do.