Points of View, December 14, 2010


“Branch explained what was discussed.

“‘It was good conversation.'”

“‘He said he was about to clean me off,’ Branch said of Wright. ‘Guys are always talking. But, like I told him, I’ve been playing a lot of football. I have a lot of football under my belt for me to just run a route and not think that you’re going to be there.

As a general rule, my experience is that its the quiet guys who get the job done.  That certainly appeared to be the case Sunday.

  • Much is being made of Wright’s failure to get over the top and cover Branch deep on the last play of the first half, which resulted in a touchdown.  But as Brad Biggs and Matt Bowen at the Chicago Tribune point out, let’s not forget that Charles Tillman also failed to divert Branch and allowed him to release to the outside, something that simply can’t be allowed in those situations.

“Did (the poor technique by both players) cost the Bears the game? No. They were trailing 26-0 before the touchdown. But it was indicative of how poorly prepared the Bears were and how they suffered major breakdowns in technique for the second week in a row.”

Tillman’s error didn’t really matter because Wright was so late.  But even if he hadn’t been its very possible the Patriots would have scored anyway.  Tillman had a terrible game.

“While Tom Brady had the kind of game that only further cemented his MVP and Hall of Fame credentials, this game magnified an even bigger difference between the Patriots and the rest of the NFL — they block better.”

They certainly do and the difference between the teams was noticeable not just on the offensive line but all over the field.


Mike Florio at profootballtalk.com comments upon Tarvaris Jackson’s performance at quarterback for the Vikings last night:

The Vikings had rookie Joe Webb at quarterback for part of the fourth quarter Monday night.    They may as well get Webb some practice, because he’s the only Vikings quarterback on the roster that’s likely to be back next year.

Both Jackson and Webb were former head coach and all around genius Brad Childress’s projects.  The Vikings are already reportedly considering moving Webb moved back to wide receiver, the position for which he was drafted.

Brett Favre may well be put on injured reserve and the unsettled quarterback position bodes well for the Bears, who play the Vikings this week.

One Final Thought

Though I sympathize with their plight, I wasn’t too thrilled with Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis’ reaction to Rex Ryan’s comments after they lost to the Dolphins 10-6 (via Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post):

“’According to Rex we played [bleepy].  He said we weren’t good enough. I guess we needed a shutout. I guess that’s what he was talking about.”

Yes, that’s exactly what he was talking about.  You’re supposed to win and lose as a team.  If that means you throw a shutout then you throw a shut out.

Good team members point the finger at themselves first.

Bears Could Clinch the Division This Weekend But Don’t Count On It

The Bears could clinch the NFC North this weekend with a win over the Vikings and a Packer loss.  Both of these things could easily happen.  But only if conditions are right.

First let’s take a look at how the Bears are reacting to the way that the Patriots dominated them.  This is what tight end Greg Olsen is saying via Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“It still hurts. We took a lot of pride in playing well, and it was a big stage for us, and we didn’t take advantage of it at all.

“‘But we have to move on. One loss could become two, and then you’re snowballing down the wrong path. We have to bounce back. We play the Vikings — a division game. Maybe a week from [today], we’ll be celebrating being NFC North champs. We’ll see.”

Sounds good.  As long as they aren’t assuming they are going to beat the Vikings and they concentrate and give it full effort this week instead of letting the post-game hangover affect them.  There’s still a chance that they could play the Vikings in the Metrodome and the Bears have lost seven of their last eight there.  If they don’t, they could be playing outside at the University of Minnesota which, as Sean Jensen, also at the Sun-Times, points out, may not be much better.  It isn’t like the Bears looked fast on the snow Sunday.

But I think the Bears can handle the Vikings.  What is more in doubt in my mind is the Packers-New England game.  Yes, I’m aware that the Patriots have won 26 in a row at home.  And I’m aware that Aaron Rogers might not play.  Without him, the Packers are almost certainly sunk.

As I pointed out last week and as numerous people have pointed out since the game ended, the Patriots were practically built to beat the Bears.  They specialize in executing a patient, short passing game that works well against the cover two.  As Don Pompei at the Chicago Tribune pointed out yesterday, the Patriots forced the Bears to play a lot of man-to-man because they are so good at setting up mismatches with their personnel against zone defenses.

So the Bears problem was that they don’t specialize in playing man-to-man.  The Packers do.  In contrast to the good match up that the Patriots had against the Bears, the matchup with the Packers defense is terrible.  They play tenacious man-to-man defense and they have the personnel to do it.  You could argue that even their backups are better at it than the Bears starters are, particularly in the snow.

And, of course, there’s always the possibility that coming off of two tough wins, the Patriots could let down.  Things like that don’t happen to Bill Belichick‘s teams, you say?  All you have to do is remember that the Browns beat them 34-7 just last month.  No one is in top form all the time.  Though the best do manage to minimize it, it’s human nature to let down at least a little in these situations.

I know it was garbage time and I know better than to make a big deal of it.  But I’ll say out right that the Patriots played a very sloppy second half against the Bears and if they play at all like that against the Packers with Rogers in the line up, home game or not they’ll lose.

So even if the Bears react properly and come out on fire against the Vikings, the Packers aren’t going to just lay down and die.  The Patriots could have their hands full next week.