Ex-Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
Lombardi was a jerk.
OK, maybe that’s a little harsh. Winning is always the goal. But it’s not the only thing. In fact, it’s not even the most important thing. Ex-rugby great Martin Johnson found that out after he retired and expressed the sentiment in perhaps the best terms I’ve heard.
“You hear a lot of people talk at the end of their careers about wins and losses. They are great and special days but it is more about the togetherness of trying to achieve. People say, ‘You won X, Y and Z’ but I played in all the competitions far more times than I won them.
“If you are in something where you have a purpose and fighting for it, that is what you want.”
Or perhaps, if you want it expressed more succinctly, you can look at a recent Russell Wilson tweet which stated simply, “I love adversity.”
If winning was all there was to sport, the NFL would have 31 miserable fan bases at the end of every year. If being a billionaire was the only thing, 99.9% of human life on earth wouldn’t be worth living. Instead, fighting to overcome adversity is what it’s all about, pulling together to overcome the little lows to produce the little highs day by day, week by week, year by year.
Adversity can bring out the best in all of us. It forces us to evolve and can make us different, better people.
We can., I hope, expect that will be the case as the Bears emerge from yet another loss to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Bears head coach Matt Nagy is no 1-10 against the Packers and this was a pretty decisive win.
The Bears just can’t seem to solve the puzzle that the Packers present. It isn’t just the presence of Rodgers. There was a lot of good effort out on the field today and it looked to me like the players were up and ready to play. The Bears have their won growing young star quarterback in Justin Fields, who just isn’t quite ready yet. But despite this, the Packers, as usual, seemed to be just a little bit better disciplined, a little bit better coached, and a little bit better.
The Packers present a challenge year after year that the Bears must continue to work harder and harder to match.
And they will. They will fight. And we will watch. Because we know that it’s not the win, itself, that is the whole story and that they and, through their example, we, will all be better for it.
- The Bears ranked seventh in points allowed (20 ppg) going into this game and the 24 that they gave up wasn’t that far off of that. But they needed better with an offense that struggled to come from behind. That was the story here.
- The plan was to try to confuse Rodgers with the typical blurry looks that Vic Fangio has brought to the league
- Among the things that didn’t bother him was the Bears pass rush, which was pretty good. The Bears entered this week as the NFL leaders in sacks with 18. They added three more today, one by Khalil Mack, one by Robert Quinn and one by Akiem Hicks. The Bears defensive line played well with their typical stunts and games up front in a losing effort.
But once it became evident that they were running amuchk early, Green Bay adjusted and Rodgers went to shorter passes to get the ball out. After that it was just a matter of execution and Green Bay did a good job of working their way down field on some long drives that ultimately were the difference in the game.
- The Bears had a difficult time with tight ends a year ago, allowing 12 touchdown receptions to them, Green Bay accounted for four of those. That continued today as Green Bay distributed the ball among Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, and Josiah Degara for some damaging yardage.
- The Bears had more than the usual amount of trouble stuffing the run today, allowing 154 yards rushing on 31 carries (5.0 ypc). Many of those were short but some long runs by Aaron Jones (13 carries, 76 yards) and A.J. Dillon (11 carries, 59 yards) made a big difference in the game. The defnese needed to be more consistent here.
- I was dissatisfied with the way that the Bears decided to handle Devante Adams (4 receptions, 89 yards) this game. They had Jayon Johnson, their best corner, travel with him around the field. i would have rather seen the Bears double Adams and put Johnson on whoever they decided the second best receiver was.
“He definitely runs the show,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said earlier this week. “You can see being out there on the field how he changes the offense, how he changes routes, how he changes calls, how he really just dissects the defense and really sees what you’re in and once he really understands what you’re in he molds the offense to beat what you’re in. It’s really just about changing up disguises, not giving him too much pre-snap indicators of what we’re doing. So it’s really just about being able to mix it up and give good disguises.”
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was having none of it. He completed 17 passes on 23 attempts for 195 yards and didn’t seem to let much of anything bother him today.
- There was a thought going into this game that the Bears might have to open the offense up a little bit. I wasn’t buying it because the Packers have an ordinary run defense and my gut was telling me that they were probably perfectly willing to make Fields beat them with his arm. More on that below.
- The Packers aren’t a great run defense and they weren’t great today. The Bears ran 26 times for 140 yards (5.4 ypc) and I can’t get past the idea that if they’d done it just a little more in the first half this would have been a differnt game.
- The Packers defense has been absolutely dreadful inside the red zone and that also held up today as the Bears scored both times they were in the red zone. But they were only in the red zone two times so…
- Jimmy Graham had no catches but the Bears did get Cole Kmet far more involved today. this was probably Kmet’s best day as a Bear as he had 4 catches for 49 yards and looked pretty good doing it. They finally sent a tight end down the seam in the second half and found success. Here’s hoping they do more of it.
- Justin Fields constantly amazes me with his accuracy because it was something that you just didn’t hear anything about as he came out of Ohio State. But its really elite.
- Fields really struggled today at times because the Packers worked very hard to keep him from escaping the pocket. The result was 4 sacks and a lot of pressure throws, some of which were good and some of which weren’t. It would have helped Fields tremendously if the Bears had stuck to the plan of helping out the offensive line with protection by keeping in more tight ends to block. They were still doing it but not nearly as much, especially late in the game. Far too often Green Bay got pressure as the Bears tried to protect Fields with five linemen on long developing plays that he didn’t have time to make. They simply aren’t good enough to do that.
- I’ve been looking for the Bears to start throwing to the running backs out of the back field and Khalil Herbert has a reputation for being able to catch passes. But I didn’t see many if any throws to Herbert on pass routes in the same way that, say, the bears might use Tarik Cohen. I’d like to see them try this.
Here’s how Lazor responded to a follow-up about the offense looking “confining” in Las Vegas last week: “I felt that after the game, but I just blame me for that. Seriously. When the game is going that way, that’s just how we thought to win the game. I’d rather have 500 yards, but winning’s more important.”
In any case, it did look to me like there were hints of a more open offense at the beginning of the game. The Bears had a 50:50 run-pass ration at halftime. When they came out of halftime, it looked like they recommitted to the run and stayed with it for as long as they could. Eventually they had to play from behind and throw the ball around and they just couldn’t do it.
But Fields has to bear some responsibility as well. Rodgers should serve as a great example on tape of how it is done. When pressure is arriving that quickly you have to get the ball out fast. You can’t hold the ball and wait for a play to open up. Good defenses will keep you in the pocket and, though you may extend the occasional play, as Fields did today, it will never be enough.
The offense needs work or its never going to be able to stand up against a decent defense that is playing well, as Green Bay did today.
Nevertheless, Herbert ran for 97 yards on 19 carries and had a good game.
- Jakeem Grant was electric on returns today and he’s bound to break one soon.
- Teh Bears dropped at least 4 balls and probably more today and they were all catches that they needed as they tried to work their way down field. They have to clean that up.
- Similarly they had 7 penalties for 54 yards in a game that wasn’t very well officiated. Fiedls threw an interception on what he thought was a free throw after the Packers jumped offsides. The penalty wasn’t called. The Packers lost a Equanimeous St. Brown touchdown on a poor pass interference call.
Nevertheless the Bears had plenty of damaging legitimate penalties including yet another stupid one for Mario Edwards as he was taunting Rodgers after a play.