Bears vs. Panthers Recap
The Bears went one and done yesterday dropping their opening playoff game to the Panthers by the score of 29-21. The story of the day was Steve Smith torching the Bears for 12 catches, 218 yards and 2TDs. He did as much by himself as most teams did against us all season.
The only bright side to yesterdays loss was the fact that Grossman kept the Bears in the game with three long scoring drives. He finished only 17/41 for 192 yards with a TD and a INT, but would have been much better if not for a plethora of dropped balls by Moose and Gage who both played very poorly all game. Berrian played very well before leaving the game in the second half with a hip pointer. It's possible to think that our offense will be much improved next year with a healthy Grossman, the return of Mark Bradley and Cedric Benson and perhaps a new TE.
The bad news about the offense yesterday is that they threw the ball 41 times. Playing from behind, Ron Turner abandoned the run way to quickly and started airing it out right from the start of the game. The coaches in general did a terrible job preparing the team for the Panthers and Ron Turner needs an ass kicking after only rushing the ball 26 times.
They saved the worst performance for the playoffs. It's hard to decide where to begin, but lets go with the secondary. Carolina decided to avoid Nathan Vasher all game and in the process they tore apart every other defensive back on our roster. Tillman, Harris, Thompson, Brown, Azumah and Green all were torched on a regular basis yesterday by Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith. Brown left the game after the first quarter with a reaggrivated calf injury. It's looking like the Bears need 2 or even 3 more players in the secondary for next season. Vasher and Brown are solid, but everyone else could use an upgrade.
The DL also put in a stinky performance. Carolina went to a quick passing game and the DL got no pressure. Ogunleye got the only sack on Delhomme. The DL did a decent job against the run but they needed to get their hands up and disrupt that quick passing game.
The LB crew played a good game as usual. Urlacher, Briggs and even Hillenmeyer were making a lot of plays. Urlacher had a sweet tip-to-himself interception that was the defensive highlight for the Bears.
Finally, Ron Rivera needs a serious ass kicking for not adjusting to what Carolina was doing. It was obvious that Smith needed to be double teamed and the only guy on the field who could stop him was Nathan Vasher. Instead of freelancing Vasher to switch to cover Smith, he left players like Tillman, Thompson and Harris on him. His inexperience showed big time yesterday.
It's not a real shocker to most people that the Bears lost this game. They lack playoff experience and they are a very young team. However, it's a total shocker that the defense played as poorly as they did. Flat out the defense lost this game for the Bears and it ended their season. There is a lot of hope for next year as the Bears are in good salary cap position and have most of their key players signed. Look for the Bears to try and improve the CB, S, TE, WR and OL positions in the offseason.