In today's pass-happy NFL, the team whose quarterback plays the best usually comes out on top. And so it was tonight between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers thoroughly outplayed Jay Cutler and the Packers ended up on the right side of a lopsided 23-10 victory.
The Bears were outgained in total yards 321-168, were out-passed 215-74 and out-rushed 106-94. Chicago also lost the turnover battle 4-2.
-Matt Forte had his right ankle rolled up on a tackle in the third quarter. Trainers re-wrapped it on the sidelines but Forte was unable to cut, ending his day.
Notes from Week 2
-We'll get to the offensive line in a second, but the key to this game for Chicago's offense was the inability of its wide receivers to get open down the field. Everyone talked before the game about the Bears' big wide receivers and how Green Bay would no longer be able press and be physical with Chicago's wideouts.
With Brandon Marshall (6-5) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) out wide, it was assumed the Bears would be able to take advantage of the worst passing defense in the league last year. Instead, the Packers' secondary absolutely dominated Chicago's passing attack.
This was especially so for CB Tramon Williams, who covered Marshall most of the evening, holding the Pro Bowl wideout to two catches for 24 yards. Williams also had two interceptions, including a game clincher in the fourth quarter. Yet Williams had safety help over the top of Marshall on nearly every play.
This left one-on-one coverage for the other receivers, yet Jeffery, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester failed to create separation from defenders. The Packers ended the game with 7.0 sacks but most of those were coverage sacks. For a team that has boasted improvement at the receiver position all season, they were no better than their predecessors.
-No NFL wide receiver has dropped more passes than Marshall over the past three seasons. That aspect of his game reared its ugly head last night. In the third quarter, Marshall beat Williams on a corner route and was open in the end zone. Cutler put the pass on his hands but Marshall dropped it. It was just one of the many times tonight when the Bears shot themselves in the foot.
-No Bears receiver or tight end had more than two catches. Things were so bad that the leading pass catcher, Matt Forte (4 catches for 49 yards), played just two and a half quarters.
-The offensive line played well last week but they were abused tonight by Clay Matthews and company. Matthews had 3.5 sacks, while four other players also notched a sack.
LT J'Marcus Webb was routinely beaten by Matthews around the left edge. Webb has shown throughout his career that he has no chance against speed rushers and tonight was no different. LG Chris Spencer and C Roberto Garza also had awful nights.
Webb's performance elicited a butt chewing by Cutler coming off the field in the first half, where Cutler told him (lip reading here): "Get your bleeping head in the game," before throwing a shoulder into his offensive lineman.
-When Rex Grossman was under center in Chicago, people often talked about Good Rex vs. Bad Rex. I think the same applies to Cutler. Last week, we saw the Good Jay, passing for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Tonight, we saw the Bad Jay, passing for 126 yards and four interceptions. He was frustrated and angry throughout the contest and made a number of bad decision and poor throws.
In the second half, Chicago's defense tried to keep the team in the game yet Cutler continually failed to capitalize on his opportunities. He was constantly hurried and was forced to extend plays with his feet but his decision-making was sub par to say the least, throwing with poor technique and accuracy, often forcing the ball into double coverage.
-The turning point in this game came in the second quarter. Green Bay lined up for a 42-yard field goal attempt. At the snap, the Packers ran a fake, with holder Tim Masthay shoveling a pass to Tom Crabtree, catching Chicago off guard. Crabtree rumbled untouched 27 yards for a TD.
This was a rare sight to see a unit coached by Dave Toub get completely caught with their pants around their ankles. It just demonstrates what an off night it was all around for the Bears.
-Overall, the defense had a pretty solid night. They allowed just one offensive touchdown, forced two turnovers and sacked Rodgers five times. The Packers had just 215 yards through the air and only 321 total yards – very good numbers for the best offense in the NFL.
-Julius Peppers had 2.0 sacks and beat up on LT Marshall Newhouse all evening. One of his sacks came from the DT spot, while the other came from his typical DE position.
Henry Melton also had a sack, Corey Wooton had half a sack and rookie Shea McClellin picked up a sack and a half. The Bears didn't blitz much yet the front four got good pressure, a good sign going forward.
-Against the run though, the front seven struggled. There are two reasons for this. First off, Chicago's coaches chose to activate three defensive tackles: Henry Melton, Amobi Okoye and Stephen Paea. Matt Toeaina, the NT starter the past two years, was inactive.
Toeaina is a pure run stopper and the Bears obviously weren't worried about RB Cedric Benson. The team's goal was to activate every lineman that could pressure Rodgers, with Green Bay's running game taking a backseat. Instead of using Toeaina, the club chose to activate DE Cheta Ozougwu instead. Yet Ozougwu didn't see the field and the Bears defense got chewed up on the ground. Benson ended up running 20 times for 81 yards and wore down Chicago' s defense late in the game.
If the Bears were going to sit Toeaina, then why didn't they use Ozougwu? The defense could've used Toeaina's run-stopping ability in the second half.
The other reason is LB Brian Urlacher, who is obviously far from 100 percent. Urlacher moved very slow all night, as if he was playing underwater, and had a very hard time changing directions. The Packers repeatedly ran right at him and he struggled all night to fill his gaps. In addition, he was unable to drop into his deep middle zone in coverage.
If Urlacher doesn't heal over the extended break between now and Week 3, it might be best to let him sit. He'll compromise the defense if he continues to play at well less than full speed.
-Chicago corners played very well. Tim Jennings picked up his third interception of the season, a career high, while Charles Tillman forced and recovered a fumble. These two are anchoring outside, particularly Jennings, who is the team MVP right now.
-Urlacher may have said it best in his post-game comments: "We got our butts kicked. Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were."
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.