- Dan Pompei at the Chicago Tribune goes through what I thought was a key play in the game when Lovie Smith decided to go for it on fourth and 1 from the Packer 40 yard line. With the defense playing well in a tight, field position game this is not the decision I would have made. I’m surprised Smith hasn’t seen more heat over it.
- Chester Taylor via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the time out that erased a 15 yard gain for a first down in the third quarter:
“I don’t know who called it. I did my job. What was it, third-and-15? That was big. I think that was the changing point in the game right there. We had opportunities. We didn’t capitalize.”
You can almost hear the frustration in Taylor’s voice as he can’t catch a break in what has turned out to be a rough second half of the season for him. Smith says that he made the decision to call the time out.
- Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune on the large pass to run ratio in offensive coordinator Mike Matz‘s play calling:
“Was Martz trying to hide something for the playoffs? That doesn’t mesh with the explanations given that the Bears played to win the game Sunday. They didn’t use the formula they had been winning with and if they get out of whack in the playoffs, this has proved to be a recipe for disaster.”
I’ve heard the theory put forth that this game was more about testing the offense to see what they can do by Martz than it was about calling plays to otherwise win the game. Like Biggs, I’m not sure I buy it.
- Lost in the playoff excitement was the fact that the Bears lost yet another third round pick. Biggs reports that the Bears offered to promote wide receiver Juaquin Iglesias from the practice squad to the 53 man roster (and to give him playoff game checks) to keep him leaving for the Vikings. The Bears signed Eric Peterman to take his place on the practice squad.
- Kevin Seifert at ESPN.com believes that Devin Hester‘s revival as a return man was due to the perfect balance between that and his role as a complementary receiver on offense.
- Seifert also notes this interesting statistic:
“Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has struggled throwing to the left side of the field all season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Cutler finished the year ranked 27th among NFL quarterbacks in passes thrown outside of the left hashmark. Sunday, he completed six of 14 passes and threw both of his interceptions in that direction. I don’t know if it’s a mechanical issue, a matter of the Bears’ scheme or if it’s just happenstance. But it’s worth monitoring.”
- Soldier Field general manager Tim Lefebvre comments to ESPNChicago.com about the upheaval over the state of the stadium’s turf:
“It’s unfortunate. You see them spending too much time talking about conditions rather than just playing the game.”
- Matt Williamson at Scouts Inc. thinks the Bears “won” the Cutler trade:
“No one seems to be talking about it of late, but the Bears won the Jay Cutler trade with Denver. Cutler didn’t do much against the Packers in Week 17, but he has played very well of late. … All that being said, Kyle Orton had a fine season, but no way does he lead the Bears to the No. 2 seed in the NFC this season. This is exactly what Chicago envisioned when it made the blockbuster deal for its franchise quarterback.”
- Jeff Dickerson tells the ESPN mothership that talk about Devin Hester over shadows Danieal Manning‘s performance as a kick returner:
- Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com makes the relevant point about the retention of the current power structure in Minnesota with new head coach Leslie Frazier:
“We believe what we have right now as an organization has worked,” [team owner] Zygi Wilf said, per Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
“Well, if it really was working, [Brad] Childress would still be the head coach.”
- Albert Breer at the NFL Network is reporting that the Titans owner Bud Adams will meet with head coach Jeff Fisher to determine his fate. Indications are that Adams wants Vince Young, who is feuding with Fisher, as his quarterback but he also doesn’t want to hire a new head coach in the face of a potential work stoppage.
- Michael David Smith, also at profootballtalk.com, alertly points out the change in the overtime rules which takes place this weekend.
One Final Thought
The always thoughtful Matt Forte gives his perspective on the Bears’ season to Jim Rome: