Okay…it pains me to have to write this post, but I must be fair and honest. I would have wrote this on Friday, the day after the game, but I was in mourning; so I write it today. Make no mistake, the pain is still near and deep, but I will soldier on…
This game exposed a lot of weaknesses on the Bears’, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears entered the season with high hopes and a guarded optimism that they would be able to compete with the big boys offensively. The reason for the hope were the new faces on offense; most notably WR Brandon Marshall. Sure the OL was still suspect, but the thinking is that with Mike Tice as the new offensive coordinator the Bears would scheme around the OL’s weaknesses — no more seven step drops and five man protection schemes. All of that guarded optimism went down the drain last Thursday night in Green Bay.
The Packers fierce pass rush, led by all-pro LB Clay Matthews, harassed Jay Cutler all night, generating seven sacks (3.5 by Matthews). The two teams battled to a scoreless first quarter as both defenses came to play. However, that all changed in the second quarter as the Packers drew first blood on a 48 yard Mason Crosby FG. Green Bay followed that up a little later in the 2nd quarter by pulling out the trick plays on a FG attempt. As the Packers were lining up for a 34 yard FG, holder Tim Masthay shoveled a quick pass to reserve TE Tom Crabtree who scampered 27 yards for the TD. Green Bay ended the first half by kicking yet another FG, this time from 35 yards out, to bring the score to 13-0 Packers.
The Chicago Bears finally got their act together and managed to scrape together a 53 yard scoring drive that ended in a 45 yard Robbie Gould FG to cut the lead to 13-3, but the Packers added another 54 yard FG by Crosby to open the 4th and tacked on a 26 yard scoring pass from QB Aaron Rodgers to the ageless Donald Driver to extend their lead to 23-3. The Bears added a meaningless late TD drive late in the 4th as Cutler hit TE Kellen Davis for a 21 yard score.
The score is not indicative of how bad the Bears played this night. The Bears only managed to gain 168 total offensive yards. They lost the time of possession battle 32:11 to 27:49. This is amazing when you consider that Green Bay couldn’t stop San Francisco a week earlier. The 49ers were able to run the ball down Green Bay’s throat and there was little they were able to do to stop it. Furthermore, Green Bay couldn’t run the ball against the 49ers. One would think the Bears would try to emulate that basic game plan, but failed on both accounts. Offensively, it seemed that running the ball was an after thought, and ex-Bear Cedric Benson redeemed himself by gaining 81 yards on 21 carries. Once the Bears got behind, they played right into Green Bay’s strength, the pass rush. As a result of getting knocked around and hurried, Cutler forced the ball into tight coverage. Of his four interceptions, three were Cutler’s fault by throwing the ball where he shouldn’t have.
On to the game analysis…
THE GOOD: If there was a silver lining in this game it’s this: the Bears’ defense played well enough to win the game. They held the potent Packer offense to only 321 yards of total offense and Aaron Rodgers wasn’t the reason the Bears lost. They picked off Rodgers once, sacked him five times and forced a fumble on another play for two turnovers. Up until the Driver TD, the only TD the Packers scored was on the trick play. Add to that the fact that the Driver TD came off a Cutler interception. The Bears’ “D” did their job and it’s not their fault the Bears lost.
THE BAD: As was a constant refrain last year, the Bears’ OL was pathetic. They allowed Cutler to get sacked seven times. They couldn’t open up any decent running holes for Forte or Bush. They committed costly, drive-killing penalties. In a nutshell, they were awful. As usual, this provides a blue print for beating Chicago — apply heavy pass rush and force Cutler into mistakes. Tice and company need to come up with a solution to their OL woes, or else.
THE UGLY: As bad as the OL was, Cutler was worse. When he was able to get the ball off, he only completed 11 of 27 passes for 126 yards. He threw only 1 TD to 4 INT’s. As mentioned earlier, three of the four INT’s were Cutler’s fault — throwing into tight coverage, throwing off the wrong foot, etc. When Cutler gets rattled, he tends to get gunslingerish and make mental mistakes. In his defense, his situation wasn’t helped by his all-pro WR partner. Brandon Marshall dropped a perfectly thrown ball in the corner of the end zone that might have changed the tenor of the game. Aside from drops and bad protection, Cutler didn’t help himself by being careless with the ball.
NEXT OPPONENT: Next up for the Bears will be the St. Louis Rams on Sunday, September 23, here in Soldier Field.