Quick Comments: Packers at Bears


  1. The Packers started the game with seven in the box and two deep safeties just like the game at Lambeau earlier in the year. They tried to hold the line on that. However, the Bears ran the ball well and they did force the Packers to bring an eigth guy down starting on the second offensive series.
  2. The Packers defense was getting an awful lot of penetration into the backfield for good chunks of this game. It looked like new right offensive guard James Brown had his hands full with B.J. Raji (not surprising for the rookie).
  3. Great run after the catch by Marshall on the first touchdown.
  4. On a related note, there was some awful tackling out there by the Packers defense.
  5. And, related to that, Matt Forte had a nice game. He’s a guy with good vision and toughness and he showed that. He broke a lot of tackles and made quite a lot of yardage on his own. He made a nice catch in the third quarter.
  6. My understanding was that wide reciever Joe Anderson would be playing his this game. If he was out there, I didn’t notice.
  7. Cutler had a rough game. He was under pressure for most of the game. The interception at the end of the first half was bad. Perhaps most important, he wasn’t very accurate for most of the game. As pointed out by both Joe Buck and color man Troy Aikman, he didn’t frquently didn’t seem to be on the same page with the recievers.
  8. End of the tird quarter, first and goal from the five yard line and the Bears settle for a field goal. The Bears coaches continue to believe that their offensive line can blow people off the ball. They can’t.


  1. Like the Packers, the Bears spent most of this game playing seven in the box. At that point I was sure that the game on this side of the ball would depend upon the Packers ability to run the ball. I was wrong. As pointed out early by Aikman, the Packers continued to throw the ball.
  2. Having siad that, the Packers did run the ball reasonably well. Just not very often. This led to the occasional but very effective play action pass.
  3. Related to that, this was a poor game for D.J. Moore. The Packers were picking on him and for good reason. His undisciplined play, peaking into the backfield or otherwise being out of position, hurt the Bears time and time again. I think we know now why head coach Lovie Smith benched him.
  4. In fairmess, this was a rough game for all of the defensive backs, not just Moore. It looked to me like Jermichael Finley pretty much did what he wanted against whoever was covering him. James Jones obviously had a great game.
  5. On the positive side, the defensive line got good pressure for most of this game. It was nice to see some passes batted down.
  6. But this game came down to Aaron Rogers. Unfavorable defensive formations or not, the Packers put the ball in his hands and they went as he went. He had a rough first quarter and so did the team. He was pretty amazing for most of the rest of the game and the Packers did much, much better.


  1. Fox has assigned the television crew of Buck, Aikman and Pam Oliver for this game. Another stellar announcing team that showed it. Aikman was timely and spot on with his analysis, for example, as pointed out above, he caught what the Packers were doing on offense early. Buck asked near the beginning of the first half when the Packers went for it on fourth and long a and passed on a 44 yard field goal, “Would you rather depend on the arm of Aaron Rogers of the leg of Mason Crosby?” Easy decision.
  2. The Bears did a good job of avoiding drops this game. Until Rogers heated up the Packers did the usual and dropped balls all over the field. They were better after that.
  3. The NFL has assigned referee Walt Anderson and his crew to the game.
    • Starting with Roberto Garza’s false start making thrid and one into third and six which killed drive the Bears were continually shooting themselves in the foot with penalties. This is not a team that can afford that.
    • Blake Costanzo gave the Packers the ball back as the 12th man on the field. It looked like Devin Hester was trying to get a timeout and didn’t get it.
    • Chris Conte’s pass interference in the endzone cost the Bears seven points.
    • Alshon Jeffery isn’t gong to get away with all of the stuff Brandon Marshall does as a rookie (nor is he as good at hiding it).
    • The roughing the passer penalty on Julius Peppers in the fourth quarter was big in that the Packers got a first down to run off more clock. I disagree with Troy Aikman in that I thought the penalty was well-deserved. It looked like Peppers left his feet.
    • On the Packers side there was a damaging penalty on Morgan Burnett but it was really a good penalty. Alshon Jeffery had him beat for a potential touchdown. The Bears came away with a field goal.
  4. I thought the Beas special teams were pretty good. The Packers were starting in bad field position for much of the game. The Packers unbelievable bone-headed backward pass on the punt return in the fourth quarter put the game in jeopardy for the Packers. The Packers basically won this game without a field goal kicker.
  5. Jay Cutler’s interception looked really bad. It was so far off I was sure that Devin Hester ran the wrong route. But Lovie Smith told Oliver that it was just a bad throw. It was a huge play in this game. I loved seeing Charles Tillman force another fumble.
  6. Did anyone notice how much more intensity there was on the sideline from the Bears coaches this game. It’s possible they were trying to instill a much needed sense of urgency into the players. Its also possible that they sense that their jobs are on the line…
  7. I’m not one of those guys who puts this whole season on the back of Jay Cutler. But this game was largely depndent upon which quarterback was going to rise to the occasion. Aaron Rogers did and Cutler didn’t. It wasn’t the reason the Bears lost. But it played a big part in it.

Can I Hear an Amen? And Other Points of View


  • Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times reviews comments from some of the Packers that have angered Brandon Marshall:

“What did [Charles] Woodson and [Tramon] Williams say that riled Marshall? Woodson tweaked Jay Cutler in a post-game interview, telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols ‘it’s the same old Jay’ after the Packers held Cutler to 126 passing yards and a 28.2 passer rating in the Packers’ 23-10 victor on Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field.

“But it was Woodson’s comments on The Jim Rome Show that apparently irked Marshall.

“‘They do have some big receivers over there, but they’re not fast receivers,’ Woodson told Rome. ‘There’s no Calvin Johnson on that team that’s going to stretch a defense. Yeah, there are some big guys, physical guys and they like to push and pull and grab and get behind guys, but we weren’t going to let that happen, so it worked in our favor.’

“The ‘they like to push and pull and grab’ part seems to be the source of Marshall’s ire. ‘I want [Woodson] out there because of some of the things that they say,’ Marshall said. ‘I take it personal when someone takes jabs at the way I approach the game or my career. I’m excited to see him out there at full speed.'”

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune tells us essentially what Woodson meant by “we weren’t going to let that happen”:

“The Packers bracketed Marshall with a lot of two-man coverage, meaning the cornerback had man coverage underneath with safety help over the top. That support allows the cornerback to sit on routes. Marshall couldn’t get open and quarterback Jay Cutler held the ball too long waiting for him to break open, ultimately allowing the four-man rush to get to him repeatedly. The Bears entered the game hoping they would get a dose of press man coverage — the kind of physical action Marshall covets — and it didn’t happen.”

“As illogical as it sounds, the Bears offense is actually less potent this season with Brandon Marshall than it was a year ago without him. The bottom line is points, and the Bears are averaging 23.7 per game after scoring 22.1 a year ago. When you factor in eight return touchdowns this season, the offense is short of the pace from 2011 even with a bona fide No. 1 receiver. The upshot of this is the roster is more flawed than anyone expected when the team raced out to a 7-1 start. And as much as he would like to, Marshall cannot do it alone.”

Its not at all illogical. The runnings game has been absent and Mike Martz was a better, more experienced offensive coordinator.

James Brown was in for about 40 plays at LG against the Vikings. How did he grade out? Barring a free agency move or a high pick at guard in the draft are we seeing the future at LG? — Vic Fiebig, Springfield, VA

“Brown played OK for his first extended exposure. Nothing great. Nothing terrible. We don’t have anywhere near enough evidence to say if he will be a permanent starter in the near future. From the looks of it now, the Bears will be shopping for a veteran guard who can step in and play the position next season while Brown develops. But it will be interesting to see how he plays for the rest of the season, assuming he does play.”

“With the production Michael Bush has had along with the struggles [Matt] Forte is having does a Matt Forte trade make sense in the off season? What do you think we could get in return for the running back? — Joe Devine, Edmonton, Canada

“My impression is Forte is worth more to the Bears than he would be in a trade, but I could be wrong. Teams don’t want to pay much for older running backs. Forte just turned 27. He has not been as productive as he was in 2011, and he is the 17th leading rusher in the NFL. What could you get for him? Probably a third round pick. Maybe a second. Maybe not. But he is an all-around back who can help the Bears offense as a runner, receiver and pass protector. Players like him are not easy to find. I would not be looking to trade him, and I don’t think the Bears will be either.”

The lack of respect that Forte gets from fans constantly amazes me. He’s not having his greatest season but when I watch him catch and run with such nice vision and compare him in my mind to other running backs around the league, I just can’t understand why fans are so anxious to trade him. He’s one of only three or four Bears players that good teams like the Packers can look at with envy. I agree with Pompei. You don’t trade assets like Forte.


“The Bears look like they are running scared now. Lovie Smith treats Brian Urlacher like Rex Ryan treats Darrelle Revis. When the Jets lost Revis for the year, Rex basically said, ‘We are done. We suck.’ Look at the records in Chicago when Urlacher is not playing. The defense cannot line up or stop anyone. It’s a disaster. … I’m surprised Nick Roach is still on the team. I always thought he was a backup. I’m shocked he has stayed healthy (all year).”


  • Most of us are used to thinking about the blow to the offense and defense but Potash highlights the problem special teams coordinator Dave Toub has on special teams due to injuries.
  • Pompei says to expect Olindo Mare‘s kickoffs to be a bit shorter than Robbie Gould‘s and that Smith likely won’t have as much confidence in his on longer field goals.

“Recently the contracts and job security of Lovie Smith and offensive coordinator Mike Tice have come under scrutiny. But the other guy on the staff with reason to worry might be longtime strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones. The Bears don’t seem very strong or well-conditioned. Their offensive linemen hardly impose their will on anybody. Their roster has sustained so many injuries through 13 games that Lovie Smith was forced to cancel practice Wednesday because he didn’t have enough healthy bodies.”

“You look at the last game we played, and I hate to go back to the last game, a couple plays here and there. It’s not like we were just playing terrible football. We’re going to tighten up a few things, which we’re doing, which is our routine, and we’re going to win a few football games and everything will be OK.”

Indeed, they weren’t playing terrible football. Many of us would feel better if they had. The truth is they aren’t much better than the Vikings (or the Lions). Add the effect of a dome on the offensive line and the penalties that come with that and its the difference between winning and losing against an opponent that doesn’t play badly enough to blow it.



“Three-four defenses like the Packers use have been a problem for the Bears this year, in part because they are different. Three of the Bears’ five losses have come against teams that play 3-4s, and the Bears have averaged 7.6 points per game in those losses.

“Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice explains.

“‘Most of the teams we play are ‘over’ teams, so it’s one gap, one gap, one gap,’ he said. ‘You spend the whole offseason and training camp working against an over front that is a penetrating, slanting, quick front. Now you play a two gap team, it’s different. It’s a whole different technique.’

“Against a three-man front, blockers have to figure how long to stay on the down lineman before releasing and seeking out the defender at the next level. There are different combination blocks to be concerned with.”


“The Ravens got a steal with Corey Graham. He is now starting for the Ravens as a cornerback. He was brought in to be a special-teams phenom, and he has turned out to be a find for them on defense with all the injuries they have had at the position.”

“I hear the name of (Chiefs pro personnel director) Ray Farmer and I like him. He’s a great guy, but no one wants anything to do with the Kansas City Chiefs right now. … I know how they run it. It’s way too mechanical. They want robots in the front office, not evaluators. It’s important to have a system and to make scouting a science as much as you can, but this business is about having a gut feel and calling it like you see it. I don’t want a robot scouting for me.”

“OK, so what’s next, Joe Vitt putting a bounty on Gregg Williams?”

  • The ideal gift for the Eagles fan. From profootballmock.com:


One Final Thought

This comment from Biggs has the ring of truth:

“Speculation only mounts when it comes to the future of coach Lovie Smith, who is signed through 2013. The bottom line: The Bears have eight wins with three games to go, giving them a decent chance of finishing with 10 victories and a playoff berth. As disconcerting as it might be for some fans, 10 wins and a playoff berth — no matter how long it lasts —probably would ensure Smith’s future with the team. You don’t see many NFL teams launch a coach after double-digit wins and a postseason appearance. Jim Schwartz would love to be in Smith’s spot right now.”

I’m not thrilled with the way the players are responding to Smith right now and the way they came out in the first quarter last week gave me pause. If they continued to do that, I’m thinking the Bears won’t get those 10 wins. But if Smith does get them and makes the playoffs, that means the team will have responded to him and won at least one game I didn’t think they would. His job should be safe.

I know a lot of fans want to launch Smith. But the issue is overblown. Whether you think he’s a good head coach or not, the team’s primary problem is still lack of talent. As long as they’re moving to address that, they’ll be going in the right direction.

Having said all that I’ll wrap up with what might be the most important point as Pompei answers another question:

“If da Bears lose this game to Green Bay, will the search for a new head coach start? — @WCW4Life12, from Twitter

“No, it would be too early. You have to let the season play out. But I’ll say this. General managers and owners all over the NFL need to be prepared in the event that they decide to make a change. Dec. 31 is too late to start doing homework on available coaches.”

Amen, brother.