Panther Paw Prints: McDermott Explains the Bear's Last Drive

David Banks

Here's Panther links from around the Web from their week 8 loss to the Bear's starting with DC Sean McDermott explaining the defensive sets on the Bear's last minute scoring drive.

I'm not sure I like his explanation:

Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott bristles at criticism of defense | CharlotteObserver.com

"They were playing one coverage and we just kept hitting them and hitting them and hitting them," Cutler said. "That's pretty much it."

On the slant patterns, rookie cornerback Josh Norman was giving the outside receiver a cushion of 6-9 yards, and the Panthers didn't adjust. "Obviously, we need to tighten up the coverage there and win that situation the next time it comes up," McDermott said.

The Panthers had a time out left so I'm wondering why not call one there to stop the Bear's momentum?

Next up Rivera's explains why he didn't go for the FG at the end of the 1st half:

Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers must adjust, or owner Jerry Richardson will have to | CharlotteObserver.com

"No," he says. Rivera adds: "The one thing I had the benefit of was the pregame, going out and watching the kickers and seeing how hard it was to kick the ball 50-plus yards and watching the ball get pushed all over the place. That’s where my decision came in. "One thing I would have hated to have done is take a shot on a kick like that and have him (kicker Justin Medlock) miss it and really, I guess, play with his head."

I think he makes a good point since the kick was 5 - 10 yards longer than the one he barely made in the 4th quarter going in the same direction. Still, after seeing Newton throw it out of the end zone it did not seem to be a good decision.

CB Tim Jennings has responded to Steve Smith's comment about 'kicking his ass' in past games:

Bears notebook: Charles Tillman doesn’t fire back at Panthers’ Smith - Chicago Sun-Times

Asked about Smith’s comment, Jennings said: ‘‘That’s just Steve Smith being Steve Smith. He’s a great competitor. We really didn’t do a whole lot of talking. I was surprised he didn’t do a lot of talking during the game — more after the game, after the loss. That’s just the guy that he is. You can’t say too much about it, just that we won and they lost — again.’’

'Again'! Zing! The fact Smitty is not talking as much during games might seem to indicate he is losing his confidence. I prefer he focus on the play at hand versus the opposing player. The result was one of his better days 'catch-wise' on the season. Less talk...more production. The result was Smitty's best FFL performance of the season, which bodes well for the Panthers and his FFL owners:

Fantasy football: Steve Smith a top Week 8 target - NFL.com
Steve Smith may have a little left in the tank yet. It was impossible to recommend him against the Bears Sunday, but he still had a huge day and nearly hauled in an acrobatic touchdown that would have meant even more fantasy points. It's hard to say which direction the Panthers season goes at this point, after a week of controversy and then a near-upset that falls painfully short. Emotionally they may be at zero. But Smith is worth a flex the next two weeks at Washington and home against Denver and then you can see where things stand.

He's a very good match-up this week against the Redskins whose secondary is struggling big time.

Where we should draw hope from in this loss if how well the defense played against an offense that ran all over them last season:

A Better Effort, But Panthers Still Let One Get Away Against The Bears " CBS Charlotte
He might have been showing some effects of the monster shot he took from Ndamukong Suh last week, but Jay Cutler was hit early and often by Greg Hardy and the rest of the Panthers’ defense, getting sacked six times in the first half alone, half of them by the defensive end. That helped the Panthers to a stunning 13-7 lead after two quarters.

Chicago could do little on the ground, getting just 79-yards and three first downs the entire game. Cutler avoided any sacks in the second half, but he was more out of sync than not because of the constant pressure although he made good on the final two drives of the game

Now from a Bears beat writer, who say the same thing:

Five Things We Learned: Bears-Panthers - Chicago Bears Blog - ESPN Chicago
Let's face it, the Bears defense did not look sharp at times. Whether it was Brandon LaFell racing down the middle of the field for a 62-yard gain, the Panthers converting 10-of-19 (53%) of their third down opportunities, missed tackles or Steve Smith simply being Steve Smith, this was not one of the Bears defense’s finer days.

However, as usual, when the team needed a big play the defense was there to deliver, as Tim Jennings intercepted Cam Newton and ran it back for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. That marked the sixth defensive touchdown by the Bears this year, an absurd number for a season that's only seven games old. Even when the Bears aren't playing their best ball, the defense is still capable of making something happen.

The big play was more of a big gift in my view hence why the Bears are just happy with the W and not talking too much smack.

In the end all that matter is W-L and the Panthers are pretty much toast in that regard:

Stick a fork in them: The 2012 Carolina Panthers - NFL.com

What went wrong In truth, Newton's statistics aren't far off from where he was last season at this time. This is an issue of expectations, and the assumption that Newton would only get better with a full offseason under his belt. That hasn't happened, and his body language and post game press conferences have made him a target for media that smells blood. Case in point: On Sunday, Fox commentators buried Newton for not running over to thank Louis Murphy after the wide receiver recovered Newton's fumble in the end zone for a touchdown.

So should we stick a fork in Rivera too?

Ron Rivera’s Panthers have led in the fourth quarter in their last 4 games, lost all of them - The Washington Post

"At the end of the day I’m being evaluated," Rivera said. "But right now, it’s not something I can be concerned with. If you start to worrying (about your job) and playing for the wrong reasons you’re not going to give yourself a chance. When the moment comes or the time comes to be concerned, or not be concerned, then I’ll go from there."

In my view Rivera is playing for his next job. Even if the Panthers finish in respectable fashion I would be shocked if the new GM sticks with him. The only scenario might be that the new GM has a preferred candidate that is not available so they stick with the lame duck coach for a season. Lord I hope we don't go through that again.

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