By Adam Hoge-
CHICAGO (CBS) – Despite the Bears’ offense showing signs of life on the ground in Sunday’s 34-29 win over the Panthers, it would be a stretch to say all 11 men on that side of the ball were clicking.
Matt Forte had a banner day with a career-high 205 yards on the ground and a touchdown, but Jay Cutler still had trouble finding time in the pocket and second-half frustrations built up when the Bears had to burn all their timeouts because of miscommunication.
“With our offense, I’m trying to get the perfect play called,” Cutler said when asked about using the timeouts. “(Mike Martz is) a perfectionist, so it comes with the territory, I guess.”
That’s the third straight week Cutler has taken a minor shot at Martz after the game, but this comment particularly points to the two being on different pages. Cutler said he’s trying to get the perfect play called, which means he might not be agreeing when Martz calls certain plays in his headset. Like a pitcher calling off a catcher, that takes time and simply can’t happen with a play clock winding down.
“Hey, we didn’t have the right personnel on,” head coach Lovie Smith said about the timeouts. “We didn’t handle it the way we should.”
Louis Fills In Nicely On Right Side
Since the start of training camp, Lance Louis has looked less and less like an NFL offensive lineman, but that changed Sunday.
After right tackle Frank Omiyale struggled early on, Louis was thrown in at right tackle where he hasn’t received many reps and he played well.
“The right side underwent some massive changes over there,” Cutler said. “We put Lance Louis over at right tackle and he settled in nicely. I think he’s probably one of the MVPs of the game with Matt.”
Louis also spent time at right guard in the first half as Chris Spencer missed some reps with a hand injury, but the two worked well together when Spencer returned. Louis was also lined up in jumbo sets as an eligible tight end and the Bears ran successful sweeps to the right side with Forte.
“It reminded me of my senior year at Tulane — every weekend getting 200 yards,” Forte said. “But all the credit goes to the offensive line. The holes were huge out there.”
Special Teams Thrives
Any inefficiencies the offense and defense had Sunday were covered up nicely by the Bears’ special teams unit.
Devin Hester took his only punt return opportunity all the way to the end zone, setting a new NFL record with 11-career punt returns for touchdowns. Julius Peppers added a blocked field goal that Charles Tillman may have gotten a piece of as well. All the coverage units were solid, and Robbie Gould made both of his field goal attempts.
“You get lucky if you can win with two phases, one phase,” Smith said. “The best way to almost guarantee a win is that all three phases are clicking. And for us, looking at our history, that’s normally been the case.”
Smith was applauding the special teams unit with that comment, but Bears fans will probably challenge the notion that all three phases were “clicking” Sunday. After all, the defense did allow 543 yards of total offense to the Panthers.
“We’re not apologizing at all for this win. We feel real good about it,” Smith said.
Lovie Smith did not mention any notable injuries after the game. Chris Spencer, Henry Melton, Charles Tillman and Devin Hester all got dinged up during various points of the game, but all four them returned to action and played the majority of the game.
Jay Cutler’s voice is still not completely healed from the hit he took in New Orleans two weeks ago. He said the pain is gone, but his voice is not 100 percent, especially after games.
Chris Harris did not play as expected. The Bears missed him mightily in the secondary again.
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Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.