TiVo Time: Chicago Bears
Two TiVo Times in one week? I am seeing Green Bay Packers game film in my dreams, but yes, there are worse problems to have. I have combed through the film to bring to you a breakdown of all the key plays and moments of Thursday’s win over the Chicago Bears.
13:45, 1st quarter — Ugly start for the Packers offense, who get a rare opening possession only to go three and out.
First of all, Randall Cobb gets an opportunity on the kickoff and if he takes it to the outside of John Kuhn, who is leading him, he might have a big return. Instead, he goes inside and gets helicoptered.
The Packers run Cedric Benson on 1st and 2nd down and get decent gains to lead to a 3rd and 1. The Packers offensive line is getting a good push on the Bears, who with Henry Melton and Stephen Paea in the middle are more speedy than they are physical.
On 3rd and 1, both Jordy Nelson and Jermichael Finley are open on slants. Aaron Rodgers goes to Nelson, who drops a ball that hits him in the hands. Nelson was getting hooked by Tim Jennings at the time, but he still should catch that ball. The Packers wide receivers seem to have an unfortunate trait in common — they lose concentration if anyone is touching them when the ball arrives.
12:00, 1st quarter — On the first play of scrimmage for the Bears offense, Jay Cutler takes a 13-yard sack by D.J. Smith. The Bears run it twice from there and punt.
The sack was the result of a six-man rush by the Packers. The Packers were in their base defense and sent all five on the line and Smith. Matt Forte appears shocked by the blitz and lets Smith run right through him on his way to Cutler.
The Packers defense has forced three and out on the first possession of both games, getting a sack each time.
8:00, 1st quarter — A sack after a holding penalty stops a promising Packers drive that had gotten to the Chicago 26.
A 16-yard pass to Finley followed by a 21-yarder over the middle to Nelson moved the ball quickly into Bears’ territory. A hand off to Cobb from the shotgun formation then netted seven yards down to the 26, when the holding call on T.J. Lang changed everything.
Two plays later, the Packers have a screen to Benson called. Benson runs ahead of the blockers instead of setting up behind them. Rodgers has to hold the ball to wait for the blockers to clear and ends up getting sacked by Shea McLellin, who was almost drafted by the Packers and gets a gift sack from them instead.
Rodgers bangs his elbow on the play, which causes the ball to fly comically out of his hand on 3rd down. It was 3rd and 26, so it hardly mattered. Punt.
6:40, 1st quarter — The Bears go three and out again. Already showing wrinkles they didn’t bother to against the 49ers, on 3rd and 5 the Packers defense unveils their “psycho” package with Dezman Moses and Erik Walden on the outside and Clay Matthews and Jerrel Worthy inside. Moses comes around on a stunt and pressures Cutler into a dump to Forte who was well-covered by D.J. Smith. Punt.
4:50, 1st quarter — The Packers run the ball for a 1st down before going three passes and punt. This included a shot up the sideline in the 2-deep window to Nelson where the ball was either a smidge overthrown or misjudged by Nelson. On 3rd down, Rodgers does a familiar thing against the Bears and attempts to flee a solid pocket. He runs right into Julius Peppers for another gift sack. Punt.
2:40, 1st quarter — The Bears pick up a first down on a questionable call on D.J. Smith before punting again.
The drive was effectively stopped when Clay Matthews lined up in the middle and bulled his way to Cutler for a 10-yard sack. Walden arrived after Cutler was already wrapped up and gets in on half a sack. To his credit, Walden looks the same as he did in preseason. I don’t know if Walden dumped his girlfriend or hired Ryan Braun’s trainer, but he appears to be a new man.
13:00, 2nd quarter — The Packers show a little more commitment to the run and finally put together a decent drive. It results in a 48-yard field goal by Mason Crosby for a 3-0 lead.
Benson keys the drive with his running and a couple catches. One thing is clear, Benson looks good against teams he used to play for. Unlike last week, the Packers guards are getting off double teams and blocking the Bears linebackers to create space.
The Packers are forced to kick the field goal after losing five yards on 1st down on a quick pass to James Jones that was instantly diagnosed and attacked by Tim Jennings. The Packers did well to at least get into field goal range after that and take the lead.
8:04, 2nd quarter — The Bears drive to the Green Bay 37 before going backwards and punting.
Even though it is only 3-0, the Packers play their dime this entire series. The Bears wisely respond by running the ball with Michael Bush, which works.
Everything changes when Gabe Carimi responds to a late hit by A.J. Hawk by knocking Hawk over the pile and is flagged for 15 yards. One play later, the Bloodline punks Bear left tackle J’Marcus Webb and body slams Cutler. Punt.
1:50, 2nd quarter — Tom Crabtree takes a shovel pass from Tim Mastay and scores a 27-yard TD with a fake field goal on 4th and 26. Mike McCarthy raises a fist while Lovie Smith sucks lemons.
The Packers drove to the Bears 11-yard line after Randall Cobb took a 3rd down pitch for 28 yards. The offense is finally using Cobb more like we envisioned when he was drafted. He got a great block by Bryan Bulaga on Lance Briggs and easily evaded safety Chris Conte for the big gain.
The Packers would be stopped right there by consecutive sacks. On the first, Peppers got cleanly around Marshall Newhouse for the sack. On the second, the Bears run a stunt on both sides of the line, and Bulaga loses track of Melton. Rodgers could have dumped the ball to Benson or ran right up the middle, which was vacated by the stunts. Instead, he chose the worst option and tried to run out of the back of the pocket, where Melton sacked him.
Considering it was 4th and 26, the Bears were reasonable to assume the Packers would take the field goal here. McCarthy said afterwards that the fake was as much a statement to the offense as it was an attempt to score. Mason Crosby running out to the left froze Charles TIllman for a moment, and Peppers just came up short of Crabtree on his dive up the middle. Once Crabtree was to the outside, it was WIDE open. 10-0 Packers.
1:05, 2nd quarter — No before-half debacle for the Packers this week as Tramon Williams dives in front of a Cutler pass for the first INT of the game. Packers ball at the Bears’ 48.
Halftime — The Packers are lucky to get a field goal to go up 13-0 at half after Lance Briggs drops a pass that was thrown right to him. The Bears are usually very opportunistic against the Packers, so this is a real shocker. Rodgers doesn’t appear to see Briggs, as he tried to fit it in the middle to Jones. Fortunately, a brilliant screen to Kuhn on 3rd down gets the Packers into easy field goal range.
The Bears have 47 yards at half with just four completed passes.
8:50, 3rd quarter — The Bears start the 2nd half with a 13-play, 53-yard drive that ends with a 45-yard field goal that Robbie Gould just barely made.
The Bears converted two 3rd downs and picked up 37 yards with two dumps to Matt Forte. He got injured on the second, however, and the Bears would lose the only real weapon they had.
The Bears kicked the field goal after a drop in the endzone by Brandon Marshall, after he pushed Tramon Williams to the ground. That is how you get open the old-fashioned way.
6:50, 3rd quarter — The Packers start the 2nd half the same way as the 1st with a three and out when Benson gets zip on 3rd and 1. The blocking at the point of attack is good enough, but Melton blows the play up by driving Jeff Saturday four yards into the backfield. Benson is forced to hit a hole before it opens and runs right into Kuhn’s back.
3:10, 3rd quarter — The Bears run four straight times for decent gains but lose three yards on the fifth attempt when B.J. Raji makes a play in their backfield. Forced into a 3rd and 11, Cutler gets late pressure from Walden and throws it late down the middle of the field. Woodson jumps in front of Earl Bennett for Cutler’s second INT of the game.
1:10, 3rd quarter — Aaron Rodgers finds Nelson over the middle, where the Bears are soft, for 15 yards, and Benson has his best run of the night for 11 yards. Finley catches a 3rd-and-6 pass at the Bears’ 19 and should get the 1st down. Instead, he falls victim to Charles Tillman, who punches the ball loose and then recovers it.
Peanut Tillman has forced way too many fumbles by Packers receivers. I’ll be pretty happy when he and Brian Urlacher retire.
The fumble came one play after James Jones slightly misjudged and then dropped a high, but catchable pass from Rodgers in the endzone. Rodgers has had his bad moments, but his night looks a lot better if guys catch the ball.
0:05, 3rd quarter — Another Bears three and out. B.J. Raji comes loose on 2nd down and knocks the ball down. On 3rd down, the Packers zone blitz with Jerron McMillian coming around right tackle and Jerel Worthy dropping into coverage. Culter hits wide receiver wannabe Devin Hester in the chest, but that proves to be a bad spot and he drops it. Punt.
11:38, 4th quarter — The Packers get one 1st down before getting stuffed on 3rd and 1, again. McCarthy tries the 54-yard field goal and Crosby rewards him by making it for a 16-0 lead.
The Packers offense hasn’t been that bad on 1st and 2nd down, but awful on 3rd, especially 3rd and short. McCarthy tries the quick plunge to Kuhn, but an untouched Lance Briggs meets him at the line of scrimmage and stuffs him. I can’t remember the last time that play worked.
11:20, 4th quarter — After the big field goal by Crosby, the next two plays effectively ended the game. On 1st down for the Bears, Cutler gets some late pressure from Matthews and goes deep for Marshall, who is double covered. Tramon Williams intercepts it and returns it to the Bears’ 26.
On the next play, Rodgers finds Donald Driver down the middle against the 2-deep and it is 23-3 Packers. Nice of the 2011 Packers offense to show up for one play.
6:50, 4th quarter — The Bears take advantage of a Rodgers’ INT by scoring on 4th and 7 to do nothing but make the score look better. It is 23-10 Packers.
The ridiculously stupid interception happened on 1st down at the Green Bay 30 after another Bears punt. First of all, the Packers had no business throwing the football regardless of how many defenders were in the box. Secondly, even though the Bears had eight guys in the box, somehow, two defenders are on James Jones. Lastly, Jones gave Tim Jennings a nice gift by deciding to run his out behind him instead of in front.
It’s just another bad game against the Bears for Jones, who had a good game last week. Fortunately for him, Jones typically plays well against the Vikings and Lions.
Rodgers was a little hot after this play. In all fairness, this was merely the INT Rodgers should have had when Briggs dropped the ball thrown right into his hands.
The Bears would get only three yards on three plays and face 4th and 7 from the 21. With little pressure this time, Cutler finds tight end Kellen Davis wide open over the middle. Davis easily outran D.J. Smith. Smith has covered well at times in this game, just not on this play.
3:10, 4th quarter — The game essentially ends on perhaps my favorite play of the night.
On 4th and 5, Cutler has to deliver it to the sideline, as he’s about to get killed by Nick Perry and Mike Daniels. Cutler manages to get it off, only to have McMillian jump in front for the interception. The referee thinks this is college and calls McMillian down, even though he’s untouched. No one cares. Game over.
The game film only reinforces my theory that the Packers were much more prepared for this game than for San Francisco. The coaching staff pretty much suggested all week that this was the more important game.
These Packers resemble the 2010 Packers that went 10-6, but won the Super Bowl more than the 2011 Packers who dominated most games with their offense.
Clay Matthews has six sacks in two games. In 2010, he had 6 sacks in two games. That year, his production slowed down as the season progressed. I don’t see that happening this season. Matthews clearly looks stronger, and when you combine a tough bull rush with his speed and agility, you have someone who is very difficult to deal with.
Tramon Williams looks back to 2010 form and gives the Packers a huge boost by shutting down the other team’s best wide receiver.
It was essentially laziness last week to suggest the Packers defense looked the same as last year — an analysis born from emotion rather than fact. It felt like the same defense. In reality, the Packers gave up 190 yards passing and got four sacks. That is nothing like last year.
Ironically, the Packers have a good shot to finish week two ranked first in both those categories, as meaningless as that may be.
Kudos to Dom Capers for helping his young safeties out by going with the 2-deep zone for most of the game. It worked to perfection, and his safeties both played better.
Jerron McMillian, Sam Shields, Mike Daniels and Erik Walden all immediately helped the defense. Daniels and Jerel Worthy both showed some flashes of pass rush ability and were rewarded with coverage sacks.
The 2-deep zone and a much heavier reliance on the nickel defense gave the Bears some opportunities in the running game, but unlike the 49ers, they didn’t have the patience to stick with it and paid for that.
I am not really concerned about the offense, which actually flashed some running game. Rodgers had a better game on tape than I gave him credit for after the first viewing. The Packers wide receivers need to catch the ball, even if it isn’t perfectly thrown. I expect to see better efficiency against Seattle, who are similar to the Chiefs in that they have a young and talented defense.
Shawn Neuser attended UWGB and lives and works in Green Bay. He enjoys long walks on the beach and being intimate with game film.