Yesterday's game has Bears fans having flashbacks to last year. A defense that couldn't get pressure or cover anyone, an offense that played well at times but stalled and eventually fell into a downward spiral led by their quarterback who, after a hot start, couldn't stop throwing interceptions.
It was yet another ugly loss for the Bears to the Packers, something that's becoming all too common for Chicago. In fact, since Jay Cutler and the Bears defeated the Packers on Monday Night Football on Sept. 27, 2010, the Bears have won only one game - and that was last November, when Aaron Rodgers left on the first Green Bay drive of the game and the Bears held on for a 27-20 win.
Jay Cutler is now 1-9 against the Packers; granted he played well enough to win the game last December, but he just can't seem to get it done.
This game, though, was a team loss. The defense played poorly, with bad tackling, no pressure on Aaron Rodgers and no turnovers generated. The offense played well in the first half, but could not score in the second half before Jay Cutler started throwing errant passes. Brandon Marshall does not appear to be himself, Alshon Jeffery struggled with a fumble and a couple of drops.
The run game finally got going, as the Bears came out attacking the middle of the Packers' line en route to 235 rushing yards, but it was all for naught. The Bears dominated time of possession (36:22 to 23:38) but it didn't matter because the defense couldn't make a stop.
This was only the second game in NFL history without a single punt.
There was also some questionable coaching decisions by Marc Trestman and his staff. First, the surprise onside kick, which I'm not opposed to considering how the Packers had been walking all over the defense, but then there was some head-scratching clock management at the end of the first half, leading to the Bears walking away without points. There was also the fact that, despite getting no pressure from the front four at all, the Bears never blitzed Aaron Rodgers.
The Bears will try to right the ship on the road against Carolina next week, a team that has lost two in a row and is about as much of an anomaly as the Bears.
Let's get to the grades:
This is a hard one to grade. Cutler played lights out in the first half (15/21 for 173 yards, 2 touchdowns, 127.7 rating) but imploded in the second (7/13 for 83 yards, 0 TDs and 2 interceptions, 34.0 rating). He was also credited with two fumbles on the snaps from center Brian de la Puente but I have trouble putting those all on Cutler, especially considering how he recovered them both and made positive plays out of them. Overall he finished 22/34, 64.7 percent completion, for 256 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs and a 82.5 rating. The second interception might have been a miscommunication with Marshall, but the first one was part fluke (any deflected ball is completely unpredictable) that never should have been thrown. As John Lynch pointed out on the telecaster, the DB was playing inside technique on Josh Morgan, which was perfect for the slant he was running.
Running backs: A
One of the silver linings of this lopsided loss was that the running game finally got into a groove. Matt Forte gained 171 total yards, 122 on the ground and 49 on five receptions. Jeffery had a carry for 12 yards and rookie Ka'Deem Carey had a much larger role than we've seen, carrying the rock 14 times for 72 yards. The Bears as a team averaged 5.7 yards per carry with Forte averaging 5.3 and Carey 5.1. Cutler added 29 yards on his three scrambles. Hopefully this is some mojo that the Bears can continue moving forward.
Tight ends: B+
Martellus Bennett was incredible catching the ball in the passing game, reeling in 9 of 11 targets for 134 yards. Bennett was breaking tackles and making defenders miss as his red-hot start to the season continued. The bad news was that he was subpar in the blocking game, missing several blocks or not getting a good enough piece of his man on some others. I didn't catch any egregious missed blocks by other Bears TEs.
Wide receivers: C
It was a tough day for the Bears receiving corps. Brandon Marshall caught only two passes and while one was for his fifth touchdown of the year, it was still a bad game for the Bears' big WR. He was targeted six times and has clearly not been himself the past two games. Hopefully he can heal up and get back to his old self. He has refused to speak with reporters since his three-TD game in week two. Jeffery had a slick touchdown catch and made some good plays but missed a couple of passes, catching only four of his seven targets for just 39 yards and fumbled out of bounds. Josh Morgan caught three of four targets for 24 yards.
Offensive line: B+
The offensive line played a solid game, allowing only one sack of Jay Cutler. They opened good holes for Carey and Forte to exploit and blocked well on the screens the Bears ran as well. However, Brian de la Puente and Jay Cutler had a couple of bad handoffs which the Bears luckily recovered. Kyle Long got called for two penalties: a false start and unnecessary roughness.
Offensive grade: B-
It was a solid day for just about everybody but the receivers and quarterback. As well as it started out in the first half, it went the other way in the second half. The interceptions killed any chance they had at coming back.
Defensive line: F
This was way too reminiscent of last season. The defensive line was atrocious, getting next to no pressure on Aaron Rodgers. They tallied no QB hits, one tackle for loss (by Willie Young) and one sack (by Ego Ferguson). They couldn't get close to the QB and, when they did, they couldn't close. Lamarr Houston did not appear in the final box score, which is inexcusable for such a high-priced free agent. He has not made enough impact so far this year. It was a bad showing.
Lance Briggs and Jon Bostic has some positive plays, making some good stops in the run game at the line of scrimmage. The group were a big part of stifling Eddie Lacy to just 48 yards on 17 carries (2.8 YPC). However in pass defense the group was not good. D.J. Williams had an unnecessary roughness penalty. Rookie TE Richard Rodgers started the game with two big plays for the Packers. The biggest, a 43-yarder came when he just ran free right off the line down the field. The linebackers need to be better in coverage.
Sure their grade is a product of the defensive line to some degree, but they let the Packers receivers get way too open far too often. The receivers were finding too much open space in zone coverage, just going unnoticed in the soft spots. In man coverage they were beat too often or just physically beat. Tim Jennings had a few plays in which I thought he could have covered better. Kyle Fuller, for as good as he has been, got roughed up a bit, allowing a TD to Nelson. Randall Cobb just flat out embarrassed Isaiah Frey on multiple occasions. A tough day for the secondary against the best QB in the league.
The safeties as a whole had a rough day. Ryan Mundy may have led the team in tackles with eight, but he was chasing down an awful lot of plays. Chris Conte was beat by Cobb for a TD and they had a few shoddy tackles. Conte had three tackles.
Defensive grade: D
It was a tough test for the defense against the league's best QB and they just about failed. They couldn't force a turnover, they couldn't get a stop or force a punt, and were picked apart again and again in the lopsided loss. A rough day for a much-maligned unit.
Special teams: C
As I said previously, there were no punts in the game. The Packers averaged 22.3 yards per kick return and there were some bad tackle attempts out there. Jon Bostic was called for a bizarre holding penalty that just about everyone in the world disagreed with. Willie Young managed to block a kick but it was too little, too late. The unit did not do a good enough job trying to recover the onside kick, either.
Marc Trestman made some very questionable decisions, this when fans had been hopeful that he would have learned coming into his second season. On the final drive before the half Trestman sat on a timeout, burning an extra 10 seconds. The Bears would have burned their final timeout after Bennett's 26-yard grab, meaning after his 27-yard grab they would have had to spike the ball. With those extra ten seconds and with the time it takes to spike, the final play of the half goes off at 22 seconds, not 14, perhaps leaving enough time for another spike after the goal line play or at least some time after the review for another quick play.
The decision to attempt a surprise onside kick was questionable. While we would be applauding the genius of Trestman if it had worked, the chance of giving Rodgers a short field was dangerous enough not to do it.
Trestman's offensive game plan was pretty good, though, overall. The team gained nearly 500 yards of offense. The defense though left a lot to be desired. But he wasted a timeout by throwing a challenge flag when he's not allowed to throw the challenge flag. Who else famously did that? Jim Schwartz! Marc Trestman should not be mentioned in the same breath as Schwartz. Also his decision not to challenge the Jordy Nelson spot, in front of the Bears bench looms large.
How would you grade the Bears yesterday?