We examine our notes from yesterday's loss to the Packers.
- The referees did not cause the Bears to lose this game. I'm not going to deny there were some calls or non-calls that I thought were sketchy, especially the no-call of defensive pass interference against Sam Shields at the end. But you know who did lose the game? The Bears. Long story short, they lost it in the stretch between Kelvin Hayden and DJ Moore's initial bad coverages and Jay Cutler's second-quarter, two-minute warning interception, and the Packers' touchdown to lead off the third quarter. The refs made mistakes, but let's not pretend the Bears played like they were supposed to win the game.
- That being said, I will say that Troy Aikman made a decent point when he said that if the refs are going to call the tight OPI call against Jeffery, they have to call the tight DPI call against Shields. But I'll admit, I thought Jeffery's arm-bar spacing was a little more blatant than Shields' jersey-grab.
- Remember when Bears fans were mad that DJ Moore was inactive for pretty much the whole first half of the season? He got caught peeking on play-action at multiple points of the game, allowed several misguided inside releases. In fact, on the subject of defensive backs that had a good day, the only one I can name off is Charles Tillman. Then again, when Aaron Rodgers can just continue to abuse Kelvin Hayden, Chris Conte and DJ Moore all day, he doesn't have to look in Tillman's direction except to perfectly deposit a ball into James Jones' back pocket.
- I thought Matt Forte played pretty well when he was allowed to do what he does - we should know by now that he's not the choice to run in a power formation especially when the line can't get any goal-line push. But especially in the first quarter, he had some really nice off-tackle and outside runs, particularly with Evan Rodriguez lead-blocking and sealing the edge for him. And his 22-yard run in the second quarter (with the facemask) was a thing of cutback beauty.
- But I didn't think Mike Tice really did a good job of playcalling in this one. I'm not asking for nothing but runs. But 48 offensive plays, 0-9 on third down, 0-1 on fourth down, 107 passing yards? 1-3 in the red zone despite starting there on one of two (and the other got there from a huge DPI call) you didn't convert?! I liked the call of a screen to Armando Allen on 2nd and 20 for 16 yards, but a receiver screen to Marshall on 3rd and 12? A screen to Forte on 3rd and 24, with Ineligible Downfield to boot? Eh, why not? Dumping underneath in the final minute? Okay. No downfield throws in a downfield-only situation? Okay.
- That being said, he stuck with the run until game situation no longer dictated it, and went back to it in the goal-line situations. Can't really get on him for abandoning the run when the first play of a drive is a pass that gets picked, after a touchdown drive that included a few more running plays. That being said, Forte would really help if he would stop running into linemen's backs.
- At ten minutes remaining in the second quarter, this statline flashed: 5 dropbacks, 1 sack, 2 knockdowns, 3 hits. That's not counting three penalties already at this point. Yuck. James Brown played like he'd never seen an OLB Stunt before.
- So, Bears, that tackling thing?
- The Bears' defensive line came through pretty well through the first half in my opinion, and Peppers and Wootton had some pretty good games against the tackles of Green Bay. But when the Packers started rolling Rodgers out with more and more frequency, the defensive line couldn't keep up and Rodgers was still making near-perfect throws. There were times the line just looked absolutely gassed.
- Can someone explain to me why, up by 11 points, the Packers tried a backward pass on a punt return and fumbled? I have a theory, but it contains words I can't use on a front-page story. I'll just say it's a George Carlin joke about foreign policy theory and we'll go from there.
- The Bears had their opportunities. First and Goal from the 5. First and goal from the 15. Neither converted for touchdowns. Three offensive pass interference calls against Alshon Jeffery, who had himself a bad game (though I don't think he deserved the second of his OPIs). Two missed interceptions. Give a team like the Packers enough extra lives and eventually they win the game.
- (Speaking of Alshon Jeffery, in the final box score he had zero receptions on four targets. Six of the Bears' receptions went to Matt Forte (5) and Armando Allen (1). The other 6 went to Marshall. That's not going to get it done under any circumstances. I'm confident that Jeffery is going to be a good receiver in the league for years, but three OPIs are NOT going to help that.)
- Instead, it's the offensive line killing drives with penalties and an inability to block people no matter which set of five guys is thrown out there (except Jonathan Scott looked pretty good), it's the offensive line failing to get a push at all, it's receivers not making plays, it's defensive backs not making plays and the Packers taking advantage of lapses in coverage. Twice the Packers challenged the Bears on fourth down and converted both with plenty of time in the pocket for Rogers and DJ Moore passing Randall Cobb off to the Invisible Safety.
- Jay Cutler went through a period where I thought he unraveled again. It looks to me like what happens is he rushes himself when he's reading. On the Heyward interception, it looked to me like he thought Hester would curl under Heyward and stay, but Hester continued his route to get open and Cutler threw after Hester made his break. I think if Hester stays on that spot, it's still an incompletion with Heyward right there. On the throw to Jeffery on the outside, Jeffery tried to make the extra move to the outside, but Cutler wanted the ball gone to the inside where there was no play to be had. The thing is, they're miscommunications, but I'm not entirely sure who the miscommunications are on.
- Any time FOX wants to stop beating the "Our goal is to beat Green Bay" drum, and stop misinterpreting it, is fine by me. I understand those are the words he used. But winning the division is part of making the playoffs and winning the Super Bowl - as Charles Tillman's said numerous times, it's sequential.
- At least the Bears found Olindo Mare instead of having Mason Crosby.
- I really don't want to know what the hell Clay Matthews' sack dance was.
- As far as Nick Roach's appearances in the game... Urlacher, he is not, not mentally nor physically. But while the Packers initially challenged him and Cheta Ozuguwu when he was seeing snaps, Roach didn't have himself a bad game. Not a stellar game, but he was acceptable and capable of playing middle linebacker.
- James Jones did a lot of damage for the Packers, but the unsung hero for the Packers is going to be Randall Cobb, who's become the main target in the Packers' offense. Tillman did a pretty good job on Greg Jennings, but Cobb did too much of his damage over the middle.
- So, another one of my keys was focus. So with that, you can't commit drive-killing penalties, and you sure can't give the Packers a free life on a "twelve-men" penalty, Blake Costanzo.
- I'm guilty of it on Twitter, but cue the "Mr. Anderson" jokes for Joe Anderson's special teams' debut. I wouldn't have minded seeing him get a couple offensive snaps, though.
- Worth noting Gabe Carimi got benched for a portion of the game.
- On three touchdown drives, the Packers had drives of 89 yards, 26 yards and 79 yards. Their missed field goal drives went for 49 and 56 yards. The fumble ended a 42 yard drive. Their opening drive went 9 plays for 23 yards. Just something to chew on. Meanwhile, the Bears had three drives longer than 40 yards (44, punt; 67, TD; 47, FG). The Bears had 5 drives of less than 10 yards and 8 of less than 20 yards.
- The Bears' opening drive went for 5:36. The Packers had one drive longer than that, 6:52. Only one other drive for the Bears went longer than 3 minutes. The Packers had five such drives.
- Long story short, the Packers won because the Bears couldn't muster an offensive threat for about two and a half quarters, while the Packers jumped out from behind 7-0 to up 21-7 within about four drives.
So that's it guys, the Packers took the division. Next up for the Bears are the Cardinals, who aren't in contention for the playoffs themselves, but with a win they might just be able to knock the Bears out of them.