Know thy opponent: Panthers vs. Bears
Well there is a lot of crossovers in the Carolina Panthers forth game of the season between the Panthers and the Chicago Bears. Panthers new head coach Ron Rivera used to be the defensive coordinator in Chicago and played with the Bears back in the day. Also, Greg Olsen makes his first trip back to Chicago after being traded to the Panthers this offseason, plus there is Julius Peppers and we all know about him and his relationship with the Panthers.
So to give us a bit more input on what we should expect to see from the Bears, Mike Burzawa, from Bear Goggles, answers a few questions.
1. Seem’s like there is growing bad blood between Jay Cutler and Mike Martz, as Cutler seems to be getting killed out there each and every game. Is this a real problem growing on this team or is the media just over hyping this?
I can definitely sense some tension between Cutler and Martz, but this is probably more of a media creation. Martz says all the right things in the press conferences about running more and how Jay can’t keep taking hits, but week after week he trots out the same 7-step drops that have been getting Cutler crushed. Maybe this Sunday they’ll change up the game plan against the Panthers.
2. This question was inevitable being Panther fans but what have been your impressions of Julius Peppers not only this year but since he has come to the Bears. Has he lived up to the hype in your opinion?
Peppers has been very impressive in his stint with the Bears even though a lot of what he does doesn’t show up on the stats sheet. He’s been a beast, drawing countless false starts and the attention that frees up his teammates to do good things. I haven’t ever seen him “take plays off” as was alleged when he came to Chicago. I’d say he’s been well worth the king’s ransom the Bears paid to bring him in.
3. Ron Rivera is a former Bear, both a coach and player. For you what did you think of Rivera when he was there coaching the defense and what are your impressions of him now?
I loved Chico. He brought a little bit of the swagger from the ’85 Bears to the defense. He came from a school of thought to bring pressure; not really meshing with Lovie Smith’s philosophy. That’s part of the reason why Rivera is no longer in Chicago. Lovie didn’t want anyone around to challenge his thinking. As for what I think of him now, I think he’s definitely got his hands full with the Panthers job to bring them back to relevance in the NFC. He’s done a decent job so far, though I guess Cam Newton’s strong start hasn’t hurt. I wish Rivera good luck, after Sunday of course.
4. Finally, we all know about Jay Cutler’s injury last season in the playoffs. What do you think about your quarterback and his toughness and ability to lead this team?
Let’s break this up into 2 parts. I think Jay Cutler is about the toughest QB in the NFL. He’s been sacked more than any other quarterback in the last couple of years and he’s gotten up again and again. He went into the locker room at halftime of the NFC Championship game and took the needle to try to get back into the game. He went in in the third quarter and tried to play, but couldn’t plant and couldn’t run on a torn MCL, so he went out. I can’t ask for of him from a toughness point of view.
As far as leadership, I’ll say this about Jay – he hasn’t made his teammates around him better and I think elite quarterbacks who are leaders do make those around them better. He hasn’t had much talent around him on offense with a swiss cheese offensive line and a wide receiver group that is among the worst in the league. Would I like to see Jay jumping up and down on the sidelines and slapping guys on the ass? Sure, but that’s just me. It doesn’t matter what I think, it matters what the other 52 guys in that locker room think.
5. What is your prediction for the game?
I think the Panthers are headed in the right direction, but they take a step back on Sunday. The Bears defense will shut down the big plays and force Newton and the Panthers offense to go up and down the field with checkdowns and all of the underneath routes. The Bears will look to capitalize on the impatience of a young quarterback and get some takeaways. Cutler and the offense should be able to find a few big plays and I expect the Bears to try to assert themselves in the running game. Bears 34 – Panthers 24.