Clausen Flails, Panthers Plummet to 0-5

Julius Peppers gave fans a reason to boo with his return to Bank of America Stadium. Jimmy Clausen and Carolina's inept offense kept the fans booing as the Panthers lost a sloppy 23-6 decision to the Chicago Bears and fell to 0-5.

The Bears jumped out to a 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game thanks to two long touchdowns by Matt Forte. The game was essentially over at that point, as the Panthers -- who averaged less than 12 points in their first four games -- had no offensive punch with Steve Smith (ankle) out of the lineup.

Jimmy Clausen played an embarrassing game, bad enough to get benched with less than four minutes remaining. He finished the game 9-of-22 for 61 yards and an interception. His passer rating was 29.7.

Ron Meeks' unit, after ceding the two early scores, stiffened and gave the offense plenty of opportunities. Charles Godfrey corralled his team-best fourth interception while Jordan Pugh, Ed Johnson and Everette Brown each recorded his first career pick. It didn't help, though, as the Panthers turned the four subsequent possessions into zero points.

Carolina has yet to score a touchdown following a turnover this season.

WR Brandon LaFell
Al Messerschmidt/Getty
The youth of Jeff Davidson's passing attack was painfully obvious. Rookies Brandon LaFell (one catch, 16 yards) and David Gettis (three catches, 32 yards) joined Clausen in the starting lineup and the lack of chemistry was apparent. Clausen showed no accuracy while LaFell and Gettis either ran sloppy routes or the wrong routes altogether.

Fellow rookie Armanti Edwards was up for the first time, hoping to give the offense a spark. He ran the Mountaineer package twice, with the team gaining a total of 1 yard on those plays. Edwards finished without a reception.

Carolina's running game was statistically effective, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combining to carry 20 times for 81 yards (4.1 ypc). However, subtract Williams' best run (23 yards) and Stewart's (24 yards) and the duo averaged less than 2 yards on the rest of its carries.

Cat Quicks

--Julius Peppers finished with two tackles and no sacks. His highlight-reel play came in the first quarter when he tipped a pass and intercepted it from his knees.

--The Panthers were penalized seven times for 53 yards, which means they finished with only 9 yards more in net passing (62) than they did in penalties.

--Carolina's defense allowed the Bears to convert three of 15 third-down opportunities (20 percent). However, Carolina's offense was even worse (three of 18, 16 percent).

--The defense had three sacks. Rookie Greg Hardy posted his first career sack while Richard Marshall had one and Nick Hayden and James Anderson split another.

What should the Panthers do with Clausen? Discuss inside the message boards.

Michael Lombardo is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and also a long-time contributor to the network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. You can see more of his updates by following him on Twitter.

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