By Laurence W. Holmes-
(CBS) Time offers the opportunity for perspective, so I thought it would be a good idea to wait each week to give my thoughts on the Bears game. The idea is that 24 hours allows me to watch the game over and to talk a few more people. Hence, “The 24 Hours Later” blog.
Today we break down the Packers’ 38-17 throttling of the Bears on Sunday at Soldier Field that left both teams sitting at 2-2.
What I saw
When the Bears came out at the beginning of this game with an 8:30-minute drive that ended with seven points, I thought that’s exactly how they want to start. It was a clock-consuming drive that mixed run and pass beautifully and took advantage of some of Green Bay’s issues on defense. We even saw some zone-read principles thrown in. It felt different from most of the Bears-Packers games we’ve seen.
Then Aaron Rodgers and the crew snapped everyone back into reality with a soul-crushing drive that lasted 2:22 that did the exact same thing the Bears did –just more efficiently.
This was an offensive staring contest. Who was going to blink first?
Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns — blink.
Onside kick not recovered — blink.
Not getting in the end zone just before the half — blink.
Turnovers — lights out, go to sleep.
Those were a list of Chicago’s mistakes.
In a game in which the Bears moved the ball to the tune of nearly 500 yards, they still only scored 17 points — and zero in the second half.
It’s not all on the offense. The defense is allowed to stop people, too. As Dan Durkin pointed out in his brilliant breakdown, the Bears tried to mimic what the Lions did to to the Packers last week. The problem is that they didn’t have anyone nearly as disruptive as Nick Fairley was. They couldn’t put pressure on Rodgers with just four rushers.
The Bears’ defensive tackles took a step forward last week against the Jets and took a giant one backward Sunday. Rodgers never really had to change his launch point. When Chicago nickel-blitzed, it couldn’t get home and was afraid to send more people for fear that Rodgers would carve them up (which he did anyway). Rodgers seemed unaffected, throwing at will and posting an almost-perfect passer rating of 151.2.
Defensive end Jared Allen wasn’t available due to illness. Fellow end Willie Young kept being pushed up the field and passed the play. End/tackle Lamarr Houston was rendered inert by Bryan Bulaga.
The Bears’ secondary was massacred in zone coverages. It had busted plays like the early tight end scamper by Richard Rodgers that netted 43 yards because he was wide open. Tim Jennings took blame for that. Richard Rodgers nabbed his two catches on the first drive, and Green Bay needed nothing more from him. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb had a field day finding space in the zone and making big plays.
How bad was it?
Cobb had 113 yards on seven catches. Of those seven catches, three went for first downs and two went for touchdowns, according to our friends at Pro Football Focus.
On top of all of that, Bears coach Marc Trestman had a few questionable moments with clock management, threw a challenge flag when it wasn’t necessary and had some in-game strategy that didn’t seem to adjust when the original game plan didn’t work. His reaction to game situations seemed panicky.
What I heard
“To have 500 total yards and to not have enough points to show for it is the main part we take from this game.” — Bears running back Matt Forte
Forte had one of his best games of the season. My benchmark for him is always 25 touches (run and pass) a game. He had 28 touches for 171 yards Sunday. The Bears went to him early and often, and it seemed to be clicking. But in the second half the Bears bogged down, especially in the red zone, and at that point the lead was too big to overcome. Forte is right about the way the team moved the ball up and down the field, but if anything should be learned from the Lovie Smith era, it’s that if you turn the ball over, your yardage stats don’t matter much.
“There must be something in the water here.” — Cobb
In six regular-season games against the Bears, Cobb has four touchdowns and is averaging 18 yards a catch. Sunday he put a juke move on Kyle Fuller that had the rookie tackling air. I don’t have to mention what happened in the season finale last year, right? Put Cobb on the long list of “Bears killers” in this rivalry. Right along with Aaron Rodgers and Nelson.
“The protection was great. I barely got touched.” — Aaron Rodgers
At the half, I looked at the box score and saw that the Bears had zero quarterback hits on Rodgers. And I thought, ‘That’s weird.’ To not come up with a sack is one thing, but to not even get an official touch on the quarterback? That’s almost impossible, especially when you consider that Rodgers was under pressure all last week against Detroit.
At the end of the game, I checked the box again. The Bears were credited with a sack late when Rodgers ran out of bounds, but officially the Bears went an entire game without any quarterback hits. The folks at Pro Football Focus reviewed it and said that Bears did get one, but let’s be honest, they didn’t need a lot of detergent to clean his jersey after this game.
(Silence) — Bears receiver Brandon Marshall
For the second week in a row, Marshall didn’t speak to the media. He will be on his show on Showtime tonight, though, so I guess we have to pay to hear what he thought about one of the biggest plays in the game. I have some thoughts on it regardless.
I’m not going to rehash old arguments about Jay Cutler, but there’s something that I might have been able to see that you maybe you didn’t. Throughout the game, it was clear that Packers cornerback Sam Shields had done his homework on the Bears’ back-shoulder throws. He had jumped two of them and broke up the passes.
According to Trestman, on the the throw to Marshall that resulted in a second-half interception, Marshall was supposed to run an 18-yard hook. He turned it to a go-route. Cutler was expecting the hook, Shields played it as such and he went one way with the ball, while Marshall went the other without it. It was a miscommunication, but Shields deserves some credit. He was tested on similar routes all day and obviously did some good tape work.
Marshall has been hampered by an ankle injury and because of that, he hasn’t been able to practice. Perhaps that’s why Cutler and Marshall may have gotten their signals crossed. If Marshall noticed Shields squatting on the route, the right move may have been to take it up the field.
What I was told
“Well, I think we prepared for their tempo. That’s something we’ve seen them do on a number of occasions. They didn’t surprise us with the speed that they rolled over plays.” — Trestman
Before the Bears game, Aaron Rodgers had complained about the tempo of the Packers offense. They want to tire defenses out by getting plays called and to the line quick. Against the Lions, the Packers only mustered 51 plays. Their play total and tempo was much better against the Bears, and Trestman couldn’t figure out a way to stop it.
“Yep … good memory.” — Cutler
Like you, I thought that the Alshon Jeffery touchdown on a swing pass in the second quarter was a beautifully designed play. I asked Cutler about it and he said that the Bears stole it from St. Louis. Then he went on to explain why it worked.
While he was talking, I was thinking about if they stole it from the game they played against St. Louis last year, and I remembered the nasty Tavon Austin touchdown that the Bears got suckered on with the same end-around action and then a throwback. When Cutler jumped off the podium, I caught him before he walked out and he confirmed that was the play.
Laurence Holmes hosts the Laurence Holmes Show on 670 The Score and is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Follow him on Twitter @LaurenceWHolmes.