Week 7 Game Preview: Panthers at Bears

| October 19th, 2017

Why Do I Like the Chicago Bears This Week?

I always like the Chicago Bears. And I like this match-up.

What’s Next For Mitch Trubisky?

Let’s update last week’s areas of focus.

  • The Roll Right, Cross-Body Throw. This was the most prominent “mistake” he made in his debut and he made it differently each time, culminating with the game-ending interception. (All three, interestingly, were throws to Zach Miller on plays that has essentially broken down.) Biscuit has to understand how much steam those throws lose and how quickly NFL defensive backs close on the football. Often the smart play is just tuck it and get a few yards with your legs or throw the ball into the sixteenth row.

Grade: A+. Trubisky had a half dozen opportunities to make throws that were not there but chose instead to fling the ball to the sideline. Solid signs of maturity for a kid making his second professional start.

  • The Left Side of the Field. Trubisky did most of his work to the right half of the field which, if you read this blog, was fully expected. But Baltimore defensive coordinator Dean Pees has been DC for Nick Saban (Michigan State, mid-90s) and Bill Belichick (New England, mid-2000s). Those men approach defensive football the same way. They want to take away the thing their opponent does best. Trubisky should have to open up the field Sunday.

Grade: INC. The Bears did very little work on the left side of the field in the passing game because they did very little work in the passing game. They will not be able to run it 50+ times on this Carolina defense so Trubisky’s development will be entirely about how much more of the game is placed on his shoulders. 

  • Cadence. The offensive line never looked comfortable Monday night partly due to their being off the snap. They also had a few pre-snap penalties, with Charles Leno clearly not knowing the count on several plays, including the strip sack of Trubisky. Are those on the quarterback? Possibly. Only the players actually know. But it’s now on Trubisky to get this group comfortable and that only happens with time and experience.

Grade: B+. The Bears took 80 offensive snaps in this game and were better pre-snap (zero penalties) and getting off the snap. Remarkably, as Brad Biggs reported, the Bears ran for four yards often on first down, even when facing run looks from Baltimore. That speaks to the toughness of Jordan Howard’s running but also the push from the guys up front.

In Summary

Unless the Bears open the playbook and let the kid do more, it’s unlikely we’ll be able to see Trubisky develop beyond the basic fundamentals of playing the position, which include leadership. On that note…

Tweet of the Week

Three Reasons The Bears Win

  • Cam Newton has been throwing the ball to the other team this season – 8 INTs thus far. And he’s probably thrown 10 other passes directly into the hands of defensive backs in the last two games alone. With the Bears secondary coming off their best performance in years, Cam may be meeting them at the wrong time.
  • Panthers wideouts Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess are big-bodied, power forward types. The Panthers ask them to get ten-to-fifteen yards down the field, box out the defender and get to the sideline. (They throw this route more than any team I’ve seen in the league.) Nobody has corners the size of these wides but the Bears will be sending two six-footers at them in Amukamara and Fuller and it’ll be difficult for the Panthers to get the ball over the top.
  • Carolina has struggled defending the tight end, especially in the red zone. (The Bears only have tight ends!) Rob Gronkowski hit them for 80 yards – unsurprising – but over last two weeks both Detroit’s Darren Fells and Philly’s Zach Ertz got them for a pair of touchdowns. Will be surprised if Zach Miller is not the Bears leading receiver Sunday.

Three Reasons They Don’t

  • Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula figured out how to use Christian McCaffrey last week and that’s not good news for the NFL. McCaffrey is not a workhorse tailback. He’s a match-up nightmare and the only linebacker the Bears have who can stay with him in space is Leonard Floyd. Problem is this will take Floyd out of the pass rush far too often on passing downs.
  • John Fox’s conservative offensive approach was not productive against Baltimore Sunday but the Bears won the game and that will be enough to convince Fox his approach is the right one. Is it? No. Fox got an absolutely dominant performance from his defense – including a score – and still found his team in overtime. Points come from the passing game and the passing game will be required to beat Carolina’s defense.
  • Cam Newton’s ability to extend drives with his legs is still one of Carolina’s most lethal weapons. Cam doesn’t just scramble for a first down here and there. Cam gets chunk yardage. Cam scores. And the Bears haven’t faced a quarterback like him this season.

My Favorite Thing About North Carolina

Born in Greensboro. Wrote his best work – The Gift of the Magi – in a booth at Pete’s Tavern in New York City.

Don’t Be Surprised If…

Ed Dickson plays a major role for the Panthers.

Photo of the Week

Hey, the Bears are playing a cat team this week! Here is Bear the Cat living that #DishRackLife.

Don’t Gamble But If You Do…

Okay, this one is a reach, but think about it.

The Bears are +150 on the money line (win outright) right now. Green Bay are +200 with Brett Hundley under center. Using the always trusty parlay calculator, you’d know that a $20 parlay on these two winning will pay out $130.

Do I think the Packers are going to win Sunday? No. But why not hedge your emotions? If Hundley plays well and beats Drew Brees, we all might as well make some money off the shitty outcome.

Links! Links! Links!

  • “Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers was on the practice field on a cold, overcast day in January of 2004, when coach John Fox gathered players around to hear from linebackers coach Sam Mills. The words that followed he’ll never forget.” Read the full ESPN piece HERE.
  • A sad story out of North Carolina once again reiterates how good a person Greg Olsen is now and has always been. The two best men who’ve played for recent Bears teams are Olsen and Charles Tillman. Interestingly, both spent time with Carolina.
  • One of the best thing written about the Bears this year: Dan Wiederer’s How a covert visit to Chapel Hill solidified the Bears’ conviction in Mitch Trubisky.
  • From Brad Biggs’ piece on the maturity of Ron Rivera in Carolina: “I think I have grown tremendously and I think I have a ways to go,” said Rivera, who is signed through 2018. “Something new always comes up and it’s something different, something you never prepared for. The biggest mistake I made early on was I didn’t have a former head coach on my staff. So when (crazy stuff) was happening, I didn’t have anybody to go to and say, ‘Well, what do you think?”
  • So many fans emailed me before the 2017 NFL Draft that the Bears should take Jamal Adams in the first round and then grab Brad Kaaya in mid-rounds. Kaaya, cut by the Panthers this week, will now be looking for his third team before playing his first game. Why the hell did he leave Miami early? Who advises these kids?

Game Prediction

Here’s the stat that guides the prediction: Carolina allows 280 yards per game (4th in the league) & Chicago is allowing 302.7 yards per game (6th in the league). Even without Luke Keuchly I have a hard time seeing the Bears being able to mount a consistent, productive rushing attack. Mitch wins it. And why not? In overtime.

Chicago Bears 19

Carolina Panthers 16

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