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Shepkowski: Defending Deferring

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By Nick Shepkowski–

There are numerous things to be upset at Lovie Smith and Mike Martz for during yesterday’s 21-14 loss to the rival Packers:  poor playcalling, opting to not kick field goals, and the lack of offense urgency before halftime all contributed to the loss in a much larger capacity than what many are mad about the morning after.

Unlike many writers and talk-show hosts in this town, you should not be upset with Lovie Smith’s decision to put his defense on the field first.

Yes, Aaron Rodgers entered yesterday as the hottest quarterback in the league after completing 86.1% of his passes against the Falcons a week ago.  As good as Rodgers was against Atlanta and Philadelphia the last two weeks, neither game did the Packers start the game with the football.

Whether or not the Bears took the ball to start the game would not have effected the Packers first possession in which they marched on the Bears defense.  Green Bay came out and immediately targeted the side of Tim Jennings and Chris Harris for a total of 70 of the Packers opening 84 yards that resulted in a touchdown.

Even had the Bears started with the ball, the Packers would have come out attacking that part of the Bears defense the exact same way.

Furthermore, the Bears had outstanding results on opening defensive possessions this year when kicking off.  Of the seven times it occurred in the regular season the Bears forced six punts when opponents received to start the game.  Only Brett Favre and the Vikings in week 15 were able to score their first possession of the game after receiving to start things off.

Look back just a week ago and you’ll see the Bears holding the “rediscovered” Matt Hasselbeck to a quick three-and-out after the Seahawks received the ball to start the game.

It makes no sense to me to put your quarterback who has a tendency to show nerves on the field first, when it’s the defense who is much more responsible for the Bears making the NFC Championship game.

Put the ball in your shakeable quarterbacks hands when the crowd is absolutely rocking or trust your defense who got you there?  I’ll go with the previous.

There are plenty of things to get worked up over in regards to Lovie Smith yesterday:  go ahead and question why Todd Collins was the #2 quarterback going in despite being out-played by Caleb Hanie during actual playing time this season.

Why run the end around with Earl Bennett, the Bears slowest receiver on the biggest third and four of the season, and why waste a valuable timeout late in the game with the clock stopped to call it?

Why not opt to let Robbie Gould attempt long but makeable field goals within his range in the second quarter?  Were the eventual 11 yards difference in field position after one of the punts resulted in a touchback that important to gain?

Be mad at Lovie Smith for a nearly everything he did or failed to do yesterday, but don’t waste your time being upset about his decision to put his defense on the field to start the game.

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