Don't let Cutler's offense hog all the criticism

Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenbloom says those who criticize only the Bears' offense could be missing a more troubling development. (Posted on: Oct. 30, 2012.)

If it was only the offense that was killing the Bears against a bad Carolina team, it would’ve been just a continuation of what we’ve unfortunately gotten used to.

Everywhere you turn, people are pounding the offense for its pathetic performance. Well, OK, not Lovie Smith. He would never pound his offense. That’s left for people who don’t spin fairy tales.

Anyway, the rally gets you a win, but not much else when you’re forced to do it against the worst team in the conference at home.

But that wasn’t all. The defense was bad in its own way, too.

The Bears seemed to take a measured approach to pressuring cranky Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, more concerned with containing his scrambling. They sacked him only twice, both by Julius Peppers, while daring Newton to beat them with the pass.

Newton threw for more than 300 yards, but was intercepted twice, once for a pick-6. So, that part worked. Newton also executed designed runs that turned into a touchdown and a big first down late in the game.

Whatever the plan, the Panthers amassed 416 yards. They converted 10 of 19 third downs. They had drives of 17 and 12 plays that totaled nearly a quarter’s worth of the game.

Wait, isn’t that what we expected from the Bears' offense?

It’s certainly not the kind of abuse we expected from the Bears' defense.

But perhaps more troubling than the painful statistics was what happened after Tim Jennings’ interception return gave the Bears the lead:

The defense immediately allowed one of the losingest teams in the league to march down the field and take the lead again.

The Panthers ran 11 plays and moved 53 yards in more than four minutes, converting two more third downs before Henry Melton pressured Newton into an incomplete pass. But still, the Panthers moved the ball well enough to get into position to kick the go-ahead field goal.

Good thing the Panthers’ version of a prevent defense is worse than the Bears’.

The expectation is this was just a blip for what appears to be a defense that is good, if not championship-caliber. The fear is that it’s the start of something bad that will require help from a better offense than the Bears have shown.

CHICAGO