Hoge’s Grades: Offense, Coaching Staff Fail In Biggest Game Of Season
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By Adam Hoge-
SOLDIER FIELD (CBS) Here are my grades following the Bears’ 21-13 loss to the Green Bay Packers Sunday:
190 total yards in the biggest game of the season. That just about says it all. The Bears actually got off to a decent start by committing to the run, but then the offensive line happened — again. Roberto Garza’s false start on the first drive was a killer. Still, the Bears managed to get off to a 7-0 lead in the second quarter by using creative formations to get Brandon Marshall open. But then the Packers scored and it was as if the Bears panicked.
Dom Capers deserves credit for having the Bears’ number, but let’s be honest, it’s as easy as stopping Brandon Marshall this season. In fact, it’s mind-boggling that the Packers and 49ers are the only two teams that have refused to play press coverage on Marshall, essentially taking him out of the game and daring others to step up.
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Once again, it’s hard to blame Jay Cutler, but his interception at the end of the first half was a killer. He had a similar one in Green Bay earlier this year that led to a field goal and it’s very surprising he let it happen again in that situation. Obviously something happened with Devin Hester on the play — and you have to wonder why Hester is still running routes he clearly can’t run — but Cutler still shouldered the blame because he knows he can’t let that ball come out of his hand in that situation.
The goal-line mishap was embarrassing and puts the 2012 season in a nutshell for the offense. There’s only like five seasons worth of evidence that Matt Forte is not good in short yardage situations. With Michael Bush unavailable, Mike Tice has to be more creative in that situation.
Like the offense, the defense got off to a great start. The unit came up with a great stop after a terrible special teams 12-men penalty that kept the Packers’ drive alive.
Ultimately, the defense was just overmatched by Aaron Rodgers. The loss of Tim Jennings was huge as it left Kelvin Hayden and D.J. Moore in vulnerable situations. Hayden showed terrible technique on James Jones’ first touchdown and Moore was consistently caught looking in the backfield, getting torched on seam routes by Randall Cobb.
The defensive line couldn’t get enough pressure on a bad offensive line. Rodgers does enough despite his inconsistent line — give him time, and you have no chance.
Special Teams: C
Ehh. The theme of year for Dave Toub’s unit. Without Robbie Gould, the Bears were punting from the 35 yard line, but Adam Podlesh had one of his better games. Once again, the coverage units were good, but Devin Hester couldn’t hit a home run. The 12-men penalty was unacceptable, but that’s on the coaches too.
This week’s blunders go deep into the week’s preparation and possibly even beyond the coaching staff. The inactive list was so packed that Michael Bush dressed even though he couldn’t play. How does that happen? Kahlil Bell was waived by the Jets last week — are you telling me you couldn’t cut Josh McCown for the weekend just to get a healthy body for the biggest game of the year?
Mike Tice no longer deserves a pass. Yes, the offensive line is horrible, but he’s partially to blame because he vouched for J’Marcus Webb and Gabe Carimi. He has an elite wide receiver, one of the best pass-catching running backs and a more than adequate quarterback. It’s now Week 16 and Tice hasn’t found a way to consistently score points.
Amazingly, Mike McCarthy made the biggest coaching blunder of the game (and maybe the season), yet the Bears couldn’t take advantage of it. The offense didn’t even gain a yard.
Even when the game was pretty much over, Lovie Smith made a mistake by not using his last timeout before the two-minute warning. It only would have saved five to 10 seconds, but that’s a lot of time when you are using your last timeout.
Lovie Smith is now 5-10 against Mike Carthy including losses in eight of the last nine games against the Packers. That can’t be ignored.
Adam is the Sports Editor for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.