Often when an NFL player complains publicly about his coaching staff or a fellow player, there’s only a hint of truths, and there’s definitely two sides to the story.
More often than not, it’s just a bout of boiled-over frustration that’s usually regretted shortly after.
After Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bears, safety Captain Munnerlyn was pretty upset after his Carolina Panthers blew a fourth-quarter lead. He was very vocal, as reported in the National Football Post, attacking the defensive play calling on Chicago’s final drive of the game.
Justin Medlock kicked a 45-yard field goal with 2:27 left to play, putting the Panthers ahead 22-20. Carolina kicked off to the Bears, and from the Chicago 22-yard line, Jay Cutler led the Bears on a nine-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 41-yard Robbie Gould game-winning field goal.
The Bears threw seven passes and then ran the ball with Matt Forte to set up Gould for a field goal and run the clock down. Cutler went 6-for-7 on that final drive and Munnerlyn was upset at his coaching staff for not reacting to Cutler using the same play over and over again.
They did the same play at the end, I think four or five times in a row and they got the win, Munnerlyn said. I just play the defense they call but you gotta switch it up. I felt like Jay Cutler, he knew what we were in. So he knew the weakness of the defense and they attacked it.
I wish it was Cover 2. We played a Cover 4 look. They kind of ran double slants on my side and forced me to squeeze No. 2 and … (Norman) can’t play that. You tell a guy to jump that and if he jumps that and Brandon Marshall does a double move, it’s a touchdown. We’ve just got to do better. Even though coach gave us that call, we’ve got to execute. We tried and we fell short.
Let’s take a look at that last drive.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 1st-and-10 from Chicago’s 22, 2:20
On the first play, the Bears set up in 11 Personnel (you'll see this a lot this drive) with two receivers out left and one split out wide to the right.
Cutler hit Matt Forte, who released from the backfield toward the middle of the defense, for a 4-yard gain.
This play was just a drive starter, something to build momentum for the rest of series.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 2nd-and-6 from Chicago’s 26, 2:04
On second down, Chicago set up in the exact same formation as the first play with Brandon Marshall out wide left with Earl Bennett inside him in the slot. Tight end Kellen Davis is strong right with Devin Hester split out wide right.
Marshall and Bennett ran slants on the left, Hester did as well on the right. Davis just released straight.
Marshall was given a 8-yard cushion by Josh Norman and ran his route at seven yards. He only needed six yards for the first down. Easy math.
Munnerlyn commented that Norman couldn't play the double slants, and Cutler saw that quickly.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 1st-and-10 from Chicago’s 34, 1:58
After the two-minute warning, Chicago comes out in the same 11 Personnel look, but the receivers run different routes.
The money route was Bennett's stop route that was run at the perfect depth for a first down.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 1st-and-10 from Chicago’s 46, 1:34
On the fourth play of the drive, Cutler goes back to the play in question. Marshall and Bennett run double slants from the left side while Hester runs a slant on the right.
Norman still gives Marshall an 8-yard cushion and executes his slant at the 5-yard mark. Norman can't get to the play quick enough to break it up.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 2nd-and-2 from Carolina’s 46, 1:11
The Bears switch things up a bit on this play. Forte moves over to the left side of Cutler in the backfield, but the receivers line up in 11 Personnel in the same double-wide left formation.
Marshall runs an out while Bennett runs another stop route. Cutler over-threw Bennett a bit which resulted in the only incomplete pass of the drive.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 3rd-and-2 from Carolina’s 46, 1:04
Just like clockwork, once again the Bears run the exact same play as they have twice already this drive.
Marshall and Bennett run double slants, Hester slants from the right side and Davis runs straight up the slot. Marshall was covered a little closer because the distance for a first down was only two yards, but Norman still didn't play close enough.
Cutler was able to quickly and easily hit Marshall for a first down.
Carolina 22, Chicago 20 – 1st-and-10 from Carolina’s 36, 0:45
The seventh play of the drive was also Cutler's fourth where he called the exact same play. It was also the fourth time that Norman and the Panthers secondary covered the routes so poorly.
Marshall, once again, caught the pass, this time a 10-yard gain which got Chicago close enough to begin eating the clock.
On the next and final play of the drive Forte rushed for three yards, both to set the ball where Gould wanted it and to burn off the remaining time for a last-second field-goal attempt.
Gould's kick was good and the Bears won the game. And Munnerlyn was perfectly just in his comments.
The Bears ran seven pass plays on the final drive, four of them were identical. Cutler was 6-for-7 and absolutely carved up the Panthers secondary that made zero adjustments as the Bears drove the field.