banner
Carolina Panthers

Bears get no breather with Newton

Posted October 2, 2011

— This one looked like a potential breather for the Chicago Bears when the NFL released the schedule.

Now? Maybe not.

The way Cam Newton is playing, Chicago could be in for a tough time against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The No. 1 draft pick is off to a record start, and the Bears are staggering after back-to-back losses to New Orleans and defending champion Green Bay.

"There's a lot of football left," quarterback Jay Cutler said. "There's a lot of things that can happen. I don't think we need to start panicking quite yet."

Even so, he realizes the Bears (1-2) are in a hole, with the Packers and Detroit tied for the NFC North lead at 3-0. A loss to Carolina (1-2) would be a big blow for a team trying to build on a run to the division title and conference championship game a year ago, and things aren't looking good after a dominant win over Atlanta in the opener.

The offense was out of sync again last week while the defense had little luck containing Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

Cutler continues to absorb a beating after being sacked a league-leading 52 times a year ago and is admittedly skittish even when he's not really under pressure. He had enough protection against the Packers after absorbing six sacks by the Saints but still completed only 21 of 37 passes, rushing throws and misfiring. There were drops by receivers, too, and the run blocking was more of a rumor than a reality.

The Bears managed 13 yards rushing, with Matt Forte finishing with two on nine carries, and called 43 pass plays in another unbalanced performance.

This time, coach Lovie Smith felt they had no choice but to throw. He wasn't seething over the lack of balance the way he was a week earlier, when Chicago went with 52 passes and 11 handoffs.

This might bump his blood pressure, though — a look at the statistics.

The Bears are near the bottom in yards per game (23rd), rushing (31st) and third-down conversion rate (29th). They're 11 of 40 and that makes offensive coordinator Mike Martz cringe

"If you're not making yards on first down, then you're going to have some three-and-outs," Martz said. "To me, three and outs are the worst thing in football, next to turnovers. That's the worst thing. I hate three-and-outs, with a passion. That's something, in the past, we've been pretty good at."

It's not like the defense has been bailing them out lately. Not with Drew Brees and Rodgers on the other side.

Now, they are about to face Newton, and all he's done so far is add his name to the record book.

He threw for 422 yards at Arizona, the most ever by a debuting rookie. That tied Matthew Stafford's single-game rookie record, and he topped that with 432 against Green Bay. Last week, Newton finished with 158 in a win over Jacksonville but hit former Bear Greg Olsen with the go-ahead touchdown late in the game, and he comes into this one trailing only Tom Brady and Brees with 1,012 yards.

"I think success comes if you continue to yearn to be good, or to strive for your common goal," Newton said. "Do you want to be average, do you want to be good or do you want to be great? I think that's what separates the Tom Bradys from the other quarterbacks in this league."

Coach Ron Rivera sees that desire, sees Newton examining the video on Monday and coming in when he's off on Tuesday to talk to the coaches. He sees a rookie soaking in all he can, and he sees a player keeping his poise during games.

"But the success he's had, the magnitude is I guess you just sit back and go, 'Wow.' The kid is really surpassing expectations," he said.

Smith is impressed. He joked this week, "We don't play many teams who get off the bus and their quarterback looks like Julius Peppers."

The Panthers' rookie star could come face-to-face with their former star. Newton realizes this will be another test for him, with Peppers trying to take him down and Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs creating havoc at linebacker.

For Rivera, it'll be a homecoming.

He played nine seasons for the Bears and was on the 1985 championship team, served as an assistant in the late 1990s and was their defensive coordinator from 2004 through the 2006 Super Bowl season. He had talked with eight NFL teams about head coaching jobs over a two-year span, and when Smith informed him that they were letting him go with an expiring contract, Rivera took a job as San Diego's linebackers coach.

Not too long after that, he wound up as the Chargers' defensive coordinator. Now, finally, he's in his first season as a head coach and he's coming back to his old home.

"Bear fans are Bear fans and they've got to cheer for their team," Rivera said. "But at some point, I hope to get a nice little applause at some point. But if not, I understand, because they are Chicago Bear fans."

Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • US Open Tennis: Men’s Third Round & Women’s Fourth Round

    Today at 11:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Norfolk

    Tonight at 5:00 on METV 50.2

  • US Open Tennis: Men’s & Women’s Fourth Round

    Tomorrow at 11:00 am on WRAL-TV

  • MiLB: Bulls vs. Norfolk

    Tomorrow at 1:00 pm on METV 50.2

  • MiLB: Bulls at Norfolk

    Tonight at 5:00 on 620am

  • MLB: Cleveland at Kansas City

    Tonight at 8:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Seattle at Oakland

    Tomorrow at 4:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: Miami at Louisville

    Tomorrow at 8:00 pm on 620am

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
7:05pm Saturday
NOR 4
DUR 1
 
Final
ECU 52
NCCU 7
 
5:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
Final
TOR 2
NYY 0
Final
CWS 6
DET 3
Final
STL 1
CHC 5
Final
PIT 3
CIN 2
Final
BAL 3
MIN 2
Final
TAM 7
BOS 0
Final
KAN 2
CLE 3
Final
CWS 4
DET 8
Final
ATL 0
MIA 4
Final
NYM 2
PHI 7
Final
HOU 2
TEX 0
Final
ARI 0
COL 2
Final
STL 13
CHC 2
Final
SDP 2
LOS 1
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
ANA 2
OAK 0
Final
SEA 1
WAS 3
1:07pm Today
TOR
NYY
 
1:10pm Today
NYM
PHI
 
1:35pm Today
PIT
CIN
 
1:35pm Today
BAL
MIN
 
1:40pm Today
TAM
BOS
 
2:10pm Today
CWS
DET
 
2:10pm Today
HOU
TEX
 
2:15pm Today
STL
CHC
 
3:35pm Today
ANA
OAK
 
4:05pm Today
SFG
MIL
 
4:10pm Today
ARI
COL
 
4:10pm Today
SDP
LOS
 
4:10pm Today
SEA
WAS
 
5:10pm Tonight
ATL
MIA
 
8:07pm Tonight
KAN
CLE
 
Final
MICH 52
APPST 14
Final
NAVY 17
OSU 34
Final
UAB 48
TROY 10
Final
UVA 20
UCLA 28
Final
PURD 43
WMICH 34
Final
NCSU 24
GASO 23
Final
UMASS 7
BC 30
Final
NW 24
CAL 31
Final
NEB 55
FATL 7
Final
UMO 27
MARS 42
Final
ND 48
RICE 17
Final
MIZZ 38
SDST 18
Final
ALA 33
WVU 23
Final
AUB 45
ARK 21
Final
STAN 45
UCD 0
Final
UGA 45
CLEM 21
Final
UNC 56
LBRTY 29
Final
KSU 14
OHIO 17
Final
OKLA 48
LATU 16
Final
KST 55
SAUST 16
Final
USC 52
FRES 13
Final
MSST 49
SMISS 0
Final
OKST 31
FSU 37
Final
TEX 38
UNT 7
Final
NMU 24
UTEP 31
8:05pm Saturday
UF 0
IDAHO 0
Final
LSU 28
WISC 24
Final
OREG 62
SD 13
Final
HAW 16
WASH 17
7:00pm Tonight
TENN
UTST
7:30pm Tonight
BAY
SMU
Final
DUKE 52
ELON 13
 
Final
ECU 52
NCCU 7
 
7:05pm Saturday
NOR 4
DUR 1
 
5:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR