Matt Bowen with National Football Post echoes the sentiment on the coverage schemes the Bears will utilize to slow down the Panthers passing game (nope, still not used to saying that). Just as the Jaguars played two deep safeties the Bears will do the same for as long as it works.Reference the route tree below, again courtesy of Bowen:
Against the Jags Newton had the out patterns and curls all day long. But he had trouble connecting on them. He rarely if ever tried the deep fades or posts we saw in weeks 1 and 2. The fact Newton recognized the coverage and instead went with the underneath routes speaks to his ability to read coverages. Funny we were told that was one of the things he was certain to struggle at.
So how do the Panthers attack this defense to get the WR's involved? As Bowen said in a piece addressing the high passing numbers in the 2011 season, it's partly due to the RB's being added to the route tree.
Five-man protection schemes: What does that mean? The running backs are a big part of the passing tree. Woodhead in New England, Sproles in New Orleans and even Forte in Chicago. Forget the standard check down here. We are talking about the option route vs. a LB, the angle route or the rail route. A major part of the passing game and running backs are getting out into the route scheme.
He forgot to mention Stewart in Carolina! This trend is similar to the differences in the Panther offense we've seen from Panthers OC Rob Chudzinski.The Panther RB's, in particular Jonathan Stewart have played a significant role in the passing game and I don't expect that to change going forward.
In my view it won't matter whether RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart take hand offs or catch short passes. We need to make those safeties keep an eye on the backfield, at least early in the game. Ideally we love to get back to that 5 yard per carry average. That would certainly make it easier and force the Bears to put a man in the box. That would be our ideal scenario. But look for the Panthers mix it up with hand-offs and short passes.
Then look for Newton to try Smitty or Olsen on the fade or post patterns. They are two of the best at their positions on those routes and should be able to bring at least a few down. Newton needs to take his shots.