Packers Provide a Blueprint for Beating the Bears But Not the Bricks

And Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times, makes a point that might turn out to be over-blown:

“Worse yet, the Packers’ approach will likely serve as a blueprint for the Bears’ first playoff opponent. [offensive coordinator Mike] Martz can expect the Eagles, Seahawks or Saints to attack similarly.”

You hear this kind of thing a lot after a bad offensive performance and I admit that it also crossed my mind.  Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune apparently has similar thoughts:

“The fear moving forward has to be that a talented secondary can throw a net over these receivers and really limit Cutler’s options. The Packers have mugged the Bears’ receivers in Lambeau Field before and Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams are a talented duo. Darryl Drake’s position group must improve.”

Its possible that the Packers did provide a blueprint for beating the Bears but I don’t think its as relevant in this case as it might be otherwise.

First, the New York Jets play a very similar style of defense.  They play very aggressive man-to-man coverage with a lot of blitzes from many different angles.  Indeed, they do it with arguably better personnel than the Packers have.  But the Bears offense was well prepared and handled them reasonably well.  They’ll be a tougher out if the Bears have to play them again in the Super Bowl but I think the game demonstrates that they are capable of handling that kind of defensive game plan.

Second, and more importantly, very few defenses play that style as well as the Packers do.  They just don’t come any better than defensive coordinator Dom Capers and the Packers have been playing that style of coverage for considerably longer than he’s been there.  And the Packers know the Bears better than probably anyone else in the league.  More Biggs:

“[Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler explained that one reason the passing game struggled was because the Bears had not changed their hot reads from the first meeting with the Packers in September. They used the same adjustments as they did for that game, and the Packers were on to them this time.

“‘They kept us out of sync,’ Cutler said. ‘We didn’t change a lot from last game to this game and I think they did a really good job of taking away some of our hots, keeping us off balance with some of the hots.'”

I would expect some changes over the bye week.

Bottom line if the Seahawks and the Saints, in particular, want to try to duplicate what the Packers did without their personnel and without their coaching staff, the Bears should welcome them to try.

Do Defensive Coordinators Make Better Head Coaches?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune had this nugget today:

“Former Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera has been mentioned as an early candidate to replace John Fox in Carolina. One league insider said it was the preference of owner Jerry Richardson and general manager Marty Hurney to hire a coach with a defensive background.”

Like most Bear fans I wish Rivera well though I’m not as inclined as I once was after Rivera released the hounds on the Bears in their first preseason game.  A Bears offense that really needed the practice under new coordinator Mike Martz got almost no work done and young backup quarterback Caleb Hanie got hurt, stunting his growth in the offense.

But what really struck me was the general preference of Richardson and Hurney for a defensive head coach.  They aren’t alone.  Adam Schefter at ESPN is reporting that former Bear defensive coach Perry Fewell will be interviewing in Cleveland and Carolina (via Michael David Smith at

All of this reminded me of this anonymous quote from Pro Football Weekly‘s Audibles feature:

“Why is it that defensive coaches can pick good offensive coordinators, but good offensive coordinators don’t always pick good defensive coordinators? I don’t think they understand matchups as well. Every situation is different. If I’m looking for a head coach, I’d be more interested in a coach with a defensive track.”

I’m not entirely sure I agree with this, particularly after seeing the Bears struggle to find the right offense under Lovie Smith.

Statistically speaking offensive ranking correlates almost directly with team winning percentage.  The correlation is much stronger than it is for defensive ranking (and special teams) and its particularly strong for passing offense.

Bottom line, if you find a good offensive mind, it seems to me like you grab that first to be the head coach, then find a defensive coordinator who understands match ups.  Nevertheless it looks like it might be the year of the defensive coordinator as far as head coaching interviews go.

The Bears Need a Healthy Earl Bennett for the Playoffs

Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times has a relevant point:

    “Maybe Earl Bennett is more of a security blanket for [Bears quarterback Jay] Cutler than it appears. Bennett, who has been a clutch third-down receiver during the Bears’ resurgence, missed Sunday’s game with a leg injury.”

    Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune would seem to agree:

    “Yes, the Bears were playing without Earl Bennett, who has become almost a starter. He sat out with a tweaked ankle that has been a lingering issue, but the expectation is he will be fine for the playoffs. Without Bennett, this group was throttled.”

    The Bears wide receivers got physically handled at the line of scrimmage.  Its possible that Bennett’s size would have prevented them from manhandling him had he been there.  We’ll likely find out in a couple weeks.

    NFL Playoff Schedule

    All times are central standard

    Wild Card Weekend

    New Orleans (5) at Seattle (4), 3:30 p.m., Sat., NBC

    Baltimore (5) at Kansas City (4), noon, Sun., CBS

    N.Y. Jets (6) at Indianapolis (3), 7 p.m., Sat, NBC

    Green Bay (6) at Philadelphia (3), 3:30 p.m., Sun., FOX

    Divisional Playoff

    Higher seed AFC winner at Pittsburgh (2), 3:30 p.m., Jan. 15, CBS

    Lower seed AFC winner at Atlanta (1), 7 p.m., Jan. 15, FOX

    Higher seed NFC winner at BEARS (2), noon, Jan. 16, FOX

    Lower seed NFC winner at New England (1), 3:30 p.m., Jan. 16, CBS

    Conference Championship

    Sun., Jan. 23, 2 p.m., FOX

    Sun., Jan 23, 5:30 p.m., CBS

    Super Bowl

    Sun, Feb. 6, 5:30 p.m., FOX