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What that bear’s doing: Panthers vs Bears lineman of the week

The Panthers three game winning streak came to an end against the Bears in what was truly an odd game to watch.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Carolina Panthers Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

For those that haven’t tuned in lately, welcome to “What that bear’s doing” the 2020 replacement for the column formerly known as “The Hog Molly report.” We’ve changed the format a bit, in an effort to focus on the positives for this young team as they grow and gain experience together.

Hogs and Bears are both perfect analogs for linemen, and while the term “Hog Molly” is not unique to Dave Gettleman, it has become associated with him. I’m not changing it because of this, but merely, a better opportunity has presented itself with the Anderson quote. In “What that Bear’s doing” we are going to focus on one individual’s play in a given week, then talk about the lines more generally. This week, our bear of the week is:

Brian Burns

In what was definitely not a highlight kind of week for any lineman wearing a Panthers uniform, Brian Burns was the best of the bunch, providing his usual reliable pressure and three quarterback hits. Nick Foles has one of the lowest average times from snap to throw in the NFL, and it seemed like our defensive line was just a step away from a sack all game long. Sometimes the football gods aren’t kind to you, and that was Sunday in a nutshell.

The play above is a perfect example, as Brian Burns immediately beats his man and gets to Foles. Foles somehow avoids getting this pass deflected, and throws an immaculate pass for a touchdown.

Above, you see both Marquis Haynes and Brian Burns get immediate pressure into the backfield, but Foles still fires out a pass before they get there. Nine quarterback hits on the day is nothing to be mad about, but of course you’d like to see one become a sack. Foles just happens to be good at that.

Other bears of note (not named Sir Purr)

After two straight weeks of not giving up a sack, the Panthers allowed four on Sunday. This was not unexpected, as the Bears have one of the best pass rushing fronts in all of football. No one player registered more than one sack, which quite frankly is a success on an individual basis when you’re thinking about Khalil Mack (WHY hasn’t Taylor Moton been paid yet?!) but still, it was probably the defining reason why Teddy Bridgewater was off on the day. Doesn’t excuse his end of game boondoggles, but generally he was running for his life pretty often.

Overall, the offensive line had been playing above their talent level, and that’s a credit to the coaching staff. There are still positional upgrades that need to be addressed in the draft, and it’s also clear that Russel Okung is only serviceable at this point in his career. His multiple false start penalties on Sunday show how much he is relying on anticipating the snap count to get a jump on speed rushers.

Defensively, the team definitely missed Kawann Short for multiple reasons, but forming that interior tandem with Derrick Brown is the crucial one. Brown still had a good game, but unfortunately our depth on the defensive interior is exceptionally shallow. While I wouldn’t call Sunday a gashing in the run game by any means, David Montgomery seemed to find an explosive play when he needed it.

The positives to gleam from this chart however are the number of run stuffs the Panthers pulled out. Montgomery either got a really nice scamper or barely anything at all. Also, things could have been a lot worse, given that both Kawann Short and Yetur Gross-Matos missed the game. Now that we are getting into the middle of the season, where depth gets tested due to injury, this is going to be very difficult on the Panthers.

Overall, I said it on Sunday and I’ll say it again. This was just a young team taking its lumps against a tough defense. The game was winnable, but there is no shame in losing to a team with only one loss in a game no one would have given you a chance in before the season. The Panthers are still ahead of schedule, and will learn from the mistakes made on Sunday.