Sunday School: What We Learned

The Chicago Bears know they should be 2-0 heading into their home opener against the Buccaneers, but a late meltdown at Carolina has them just 1-1. Here are five more things we learned about the Midway Monsters after a hard-to-swallow 20-17 defeat at the hands of the Panthers on Sunday.

1. This team won't have a chance if it doesn't win the turnover battle
The Bears didn't give the ball away once against the Colts and managed to turn Indy's lone turnover into a quick defensive score, which partially explains Chicago's stunning Week-1 upset at Lucas Oil Stadium. But Greg Olsen coughed up the ball not once but twice after short completions in Week 2's matchup with the Panthers, and the second led directly to a Jonathan Stewart touchdown run that completely changed the face of the game. Charles Tillman's interception of Jake Delhomme early in the third quarter eventually turned into a 1-yard TD plunge by Jason McKie, so the Bears are indeed making their takeaways counts so far this season – they're just not getting enough of them.

The game of football at its essence is about field position and turnovers, which is only exaggerated when a team has so few playmakers offensively.

WR Brandon Lloyd
Chuck Burton/AP Images

2. The need for a No. 1 wide receiver is obvious
Brandon Lloyd, Rashied Davis, and Marty Booker are all worthy of being quality contributors in the NFL, but not one of them is capable of carrying a team's receiving corps by himself. Head coach Lovie Smith talked throughout the offseason about Devin Hester morphing into a primary target one of these days, although he continues to be just a return man more often than not and has only caught one pass in each of the season's first two games. While it's nice to have a solid combination of tight ends in Olsen and Desmond Clark creating mismatches on those short and intermediate routes, this passing game is going to have trouble all year when it comes to making big plays down the field.

Lloyd can deliver the tough grab yet lacks elite speed. Davis still appears to be nothing more than a slot man. Booker is clearly on the back nine of his career. And Hester just isn't ready, especially after getting banged up Sunday in Carolina. It may be time to see if Mark Bradley or rookie Earl Bennett can add some spice.

3. Kreutz seems to be a player in decline and no longer Pro-Bowl caliber
Even though this much-maligned offensive line has done a pretty good job so far both opening holes on the ground and protecting Kyle Orton in the pocket, former All-Pro Olin Kreutz just doesn't look like himself these days. After not being named to the Pro Bowl this past season for the first time since 2000, Kreutz was expected to have a bounceback year and re-establish himself as a potential Hall of Famer. But that hasn't been the case, as he has been beaten up front way too often for a center of his talent and reputation.

Kreutz hasn't missed a game since 2002 and consequently has a lot of mileage on his body at 31 years of age, and it's beginning to show more than ever.

DT Anthony Adams
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

4. Deactivating Adams looks to be the right move
It was hard to understand why Anthony Adams was on the list of inactives in the season opener at Indy, especially after he started most of last season and was atop the depth chart throughout training camp and the exhibition schedule. But blossoming nose tackle Dusty Dvoracek has been a mad man up front through two games, so he may finally be ready to live up to all that potential after almost two full seasons spent on injured reserve. Israel Idonije and rookie Marcus Harrison are currently backing up Dvoracek and Pro Bowler Tommie Harris at defensive tackle, and each has already registered a sack.

Adams, who is known as a dependable run stuffer and a hard worker, had to wait until Dvoracek was moved to IR in 2007 before getting his shot to play consistently, so expect the same fate for him in 2008.

5. Giving away Harris for a late draft pick appears to have been a mistake
A healthy Mike Brown helped the Bears defense hold the Panthers to just 102 net yards passing, shutting down the deep ball and even getting a sack of Delhomme off a safety blitz. But it's hard to ignore what Chris Harris has done since getting traded from Chicago to Carolina during training camp a year ago, including leading the league in forced fumbles last season. While second-year pro Kevin Payne has developed into a pretty good player alongside Brown at strong safety, an injury Sunday to nickelback Brandon McGowan once again has the Bears dangerously thin at the position.

And given Brown's penchant for nasty injuries of his own, having him go down would be nothing short of catastrophic and might cause another precipitous fall – just like last year.

John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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