This post will have me doing two things that I really really don't like doing - talking about a loss, and talking about the Green Bay Packers. And while I was fervently hoping such a day when both of these happened would never pass, I can't just ignore it, so, here we go.
As I pointed out in Scribbles on Monday, the Bears had pretty even pass/run playcalling after the first quarter when they were leading 7-3, then inexplicably mashed the panic button and started calling more passes right after the Henderson touchdown catch. It was still a one-score game until about 2:09 remaining in the half. The Bears' offensive plays in that span were short pass, incomplete, incomplete, punt; run, short pass, incomplete, punt. Two three-and-outs, three incompletions, a run for no gain and two passes for a combined ten yards.
What does that mean? Absolutely nothing except the offense had no idea what "execution" means, unless you're talking about what the Saints almost did to Jay Cutler in the fourth quarter. Aside from his 42 yard run, Forte had an awful day running the ball, receivers couldn't catch anything with Velcro gloves, and, well, we know about the line's struggles. The bottom line is, we can pan Martz all we want for the playcalling, and I'm sure this game won't be the last time, but it's hard to be an offensive coordinator when only one thing has worked all day.
Let's get on to talking about the Cheeseheads before I get sick again.
How'd They Do Last Year: Why am I bothering filling this in - 10-6, #6 seed in the playoffs, defeated the Bears in the NFCCG and won the Super Bowl.
When Last We Met: We know about the NFCCG, but I think we're all sick of talking about that. Week 17 last season with a chance to knock the Packers out of the playoff hunt, the Bears lost to the Packers 10-3 in a complete defensive struggle. It took a fourth quarter Aaron Rodgers to Donald Lee touchdown pass to make the difference. Rodgers threw for 229 yards, the touchdown and an interception, while Cutler threw for 168 yards and two picks. Matt Forte rushed 15 times for 91 yards.
But we know about the Packers' offense and defense already!
Yes. Yes we do. We know about how Aaron Rodgers runs the offensive show, throws to a receiving corps that runs a solid four men deep and a running back tandem that adds a dimension the team just flat out didn't have last year. We've also heard that no team should bother to show up and face them, they win games by walking out of the locker room, and I'm pretty sure one of them actually solved global warming around Green Bay just by sneezing, isn't it glorious.
Being completely serious now, there's no doubting the Packers have all the same offensive tools (plus a couple) that made them so good last season, including rookie Randall Cobb and the returns of Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant. Over two games, the Packers have the fourth-best scoring offense and eighth best passing attack on an offense ranking 23rd in pass attempts. Not surprisingly, this leads to four receivers having at least a 15.0 yards per reception, and also not surprisingly, zero interceptions thrown.
As far as the defensive unit, it's gotten kind of a bad rap over the last two games, but it's still a very good unit until it's not. While they may currently have the 24th ranked scoring defense and 30th ranked yardage defense, those games were against the Saints (a very high powered offense) and the Panthers, who, while the book is still out on them, are also looking to be a high-powered unit. Both teams are also pass heavy, leading to the Packers having faced the most passing attempts and having the "worst" passing defense in the NFL. That being said, the Packers still allow 7.8 net yards per pass attempt and have given up 38 first downs through the air.
What does all this tell us? Absolutely nothing. One, it's still too early for statistics to paint a real picture of what a team is. Two, come on, it's Bears versus Packers. It's almost always a tight, unpredictable game.
What do the Bears need to do?
Play the flip better (only I didn't say flip). Anything resembling the second quarter on against the Saints will not be anywhere close to enough to beat the Packers. Offensively, the receivers actually have to play like receivers, the offensive line needs to give Cutler a little more time, and Cutler needs to hit his targets. In other news, grass is green and the Pope is Catholic.
The important thing will be to sustain and finish drives. One Bears drive on Sunday lasted longer than 2:30 (5:29) and went for a touchdown. Everything else was sub-2:30 and was either a punt, a field goal, or a failed fourth-down conversion. And the longer a Bears offensive drive goes, the more time Rodgers spends on the sideline. To that note, Forte has to run better and the receivers have to catch the ball, get more open, or put themselves in a position to make a play.
Defensively, the Bears still forced five three-and-outs on Sunday, but improvement can be made in getting off the field as the Saints had three drives lasting longer than five minutes.
That's all I've got for you. What's your opinion on Bears/Packers?