The Chicago Bears played better on defense than in previous weeks, but they still gave up far too many yards. Green Bay Packers' starting tailback Eddie Lacy was held to 66 yards on 21 carries, but back up James Starks went for 88 yards on just 11 attempts. In all the Packers rushed for 160 yards, and Aaron Rodgers threw for 318 yards. The Bears were out-gained 473 to 375.
Green Bay won the time of possession battle 35:09 to 24:51, and they ran 78 offensive plays to the Bears 50. Chicago's defense just couldn't get off the field, as they allowed the Pack to go 3-3 on 4th down conversions, and 9-18 on 3rd down. The Bears were also 50% on 3rd down in their 10 tries.
Penalties favored Green Bay too, as they were flagged one time for 15 yards while the Bears were hit with 5 for 40.
The Bears had enough on offense to win the game, but the defense let them down yet again. Some healthy players will help, but they need a talent infusion too. I also wouldn't be surprised if there was some coaching turnover among the defensive staffers either, although I think Mel Tucker returns to coordinate the D again.
Among some free agents to be on D, linebacker James Anderson had a game high 12 tackles, including his 4th sack of the season on all 78 plays. Corner Tim Jennings had 3 tackles, an interception and a couple passes defended in 77 plays. Defensive end Corey Wootton, who started again at defensive tackle, had 3 tackles and a quarterback hit while playing 55 snaps.
I think Bears GM Phil Emery will prioritize re-signing Jennings, then probably Wootton, and he'll be able to bring Anderson back if he desires on a similar one year deal that he had this year.
Julius Peppers who has a big cap number looming in 2014 may have played his last games as a Bear. He logged 69/78 snaps, and he had 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. Yea, that forced fumble...
I'm not sure what the Bears will do with Peppers next season. On one hand, he's not playing up to that huge contract, but on the other, the Bears don't have a better option on the current roster.
Defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff is also a free agent, and he had a couple tackles while playing 69% of the teams snaps (54/78). Shea McClellin, who received the start at DE again, played 62 snaps and picked up 2 tackles. It's safe to say that Shea is entering a very important off season, could a shift to strong side outside linebacker be on the horizon?
The rest of the d-line looked like this; DT Landon Cohen played 23 snaps, DT Stephen Paea played 24, DE David Bass had 24, and DE Cheta Ozougwu played 1 on defense and 15 on special teams.
Looking at the defensive backs, the safety tandem of free agent to be Major Wright and Chris Conte, played 70 and 78 snaps respectively. Wright had 8 tackles and Conte had 4, plus an interception. He also appeared to have a broken coverage on the game winning TD pass.
Zack Bowman, another free agent to be, played all 78 snaps, and had 6 tackles. I wouldn't mind seeing Bowman return, he's a solid depth guy, and I thought he played well in place of Charles Tillman.
Craig Steltz had 8 snaps at safety, and Derrick Martin played one at corner.
The Packers seemed to want to keep the Bears in their nickle package most of the game, meaning middle linebacker Jon Bostic only played 4 snaps and he didn't make a tackle.. Nickleback Isaiah Frey picked up 6 tackles on 74 plays 95%).
Over on offense, Matt Forte had a three TD day. He had two rushing TDs and 1 through the air. Forte played 45/50 snaps, racking up 110 yards on the ground, and 47 receiving. He was every bit the West Coast Offense fit I believed he would be for the 2013 season. He ended up with career highs in rushing yards (1,339), rushing TDs (9), receiving yards (594), and receptions (74).
His backup, Michael Bush, played 6 snaps and added 11 yards on 2 carries. Bush may be a cap casualty this off season.
Tight end Martellus Bennett played 44 snaps and he caught the lone pass thrown his way for 15 yards. He also allowed the lone Bears sack, but more on that in Sackwatch later this week. With right tackle Jordan Mills being injured after only three plays, it prevented Marc Trestman from calling his jumbo package with Eben Britton subbing in as a tight end. Britton played the remainder 47 plays at RT for Mills.
Britton is another guy coming out of contract, and I think the Bears will want him back too.
The other four offensive linemen played all 50 snaps. Right guard Matt Slauson, yet another free agent, has already begun talking with the Bears about returning in 2014.
Starting wide outs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery also took every offensive snap. Marshall had 6 receptions on 10 targets for 74 yards and a TD, while Jeffery had 3 catches on 8 targets for 80 yards. With Earl Bennett inactive, Eric Weems (6 snaps), and Marquess Wilson (33 snaps) took over the 3rd WR role. Wilson even picked up his 2nd catch of the season.
The only other offensive player to take all 50 snaps was quarterback Jay Cutler. Even with the final heave-ho interception, he still finished the day with a passer rating over 100. He was 15 of 24 for 226 yards, and two TDs. This was just the third time in his career that he went over 100 rating and lost (27-3).
Rounding out the offense, newly extended fullback Tony Fiammetta had three offensive snaps and seven on special teams, and tight end Dante Rosario had 13 including 22 on special teams.
What were your thoughts on the numbers this week, and what were your impressions on the snap count/stats articles this season?
- Chicago Bears 2014 Free Agents: Jay Cutler among biggest questions of offseason
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- The Bears Den: December 30, 2013 - Week 17 Bears-Packers game reports & news
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- Chicago Bears Sign FB Tony Fiammetta to Two-Year Extension