Among them: the team failed to put points on the board heading into halftime despite having 1st and goal at the Packers 9-yard line; Jay Cutler threw two back-breaking interceptions in the second half, which essentially sealed the game; and head coach Marc Trestman called an unsuccessful second-quarter onside kick that resulted in a go-ahead Packers touchdown.
Yet the biggest reason the Bears lost their second straight home game of the season was a severe lack of pass rush on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
On nearly every one of his 28 drop backs, Rodgers had time to make two phone calls and wash the dishes before releasing the pass, resulting in 302 passing yards and four touchdowns.
“We didn’t get enough push up the middle or pressure on the quarterback to make him make mistakes,” defensive tackle Stephen Paea said after the game. “He had all the time in the world in the pocket.”
Rodgers was sacked once on the day, although that was a “sack” in name only, as he ran out of bounds just before the line of scrimmage. Other than that, the Bears consistently failed to collapse the pocket and Rodgers, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, mechanically picked them apart.
“When you give a quarterback that much time, he can pick us apart,” said cornerback Tim Jennings. “He’s a great quarterback so you have to get him moving around, make him think and make some throws he doesn’t want to throw.”
Chicago’s defense failed to accomplish any of that and repeatedly allowed Rodgers to scan the field and deliver throws unfettered. As a result, the Packers didn’t punt the ball once the entire contest.
“Obviously we’re going to do whatever we can to get pressure on him as soon as we can, fast as we can. Getting him off his spots is key,” defensive end Willie Young said. “When you get him off that spot, you’ve got a chance. But even when he’s on the move, he’s still a great guy. It doesn’t change him one bit. Very poised in the pocket. We’ve just got to find a way to get after him and get him down.
“Rodgers is who he is. Even when he’s on the run he’s making great passes. Sitting in the pocket, he’s making great passes. You just have to figure out a way to contain the guy. Much respect for the team over there. They came in and the best team won today.”
In reality though, Chicago’s defensive line had just a handful of opportunities to bring down Rodgers, as he was releasing quick passes all over the field.
“He was the huge reason [we lost]. He was the only reason,” said defensive end Lamarr Houston. “The guy was throwing the ball at about 1.8 to 2.2 seconds. It’s tough but we’re going to find a way to overcome that.”
The Bears came into the contest 7th best in the NFL in sacks per pass play, yet the pass rush was completely non-existent, harking back to last year when the club finished 32nd in the league in total sacks. Through the first three games it appeared the unit was improving in overall pass rush, yet they took a significant step backward today and it cost the team the victory.
“We knew they were going to pass out of certain formations like they did today,” Paea said. “Give credit to [Rodgers], he hurt us with his arm today. That’s what he’s been doing [for years].”
The Bears were shorthanded on the day – Jared Allen (illness) and Jeremiah Ratliff (concussion) did not suit up – which surely affected the pass rush, although no one in the locker room was making excuses.
“We didn’t feel undermanned,” said Houston. “We were prepared. We had the right guys in the game. We had enough guys in the game to be successful in the running game but you’ve got to tip your hat to the other team. Those guys get paid too and they have a great quarterback. When you’re playing a great quarterback it doesn’t take much for him to take over the game.”
The Bears and Packers, both 2-2 on the season, are now tied for second place in the NFC North behind the Detroit Lions (3-1), who beat the New York Jets this afternoon. There are still 12 games left to play, so it’s no time to panic, yet today’s loss will surely sting the Bears, who could’ve dug the Packers into a deep hole with a victory.
“This is a division game and we lost but we’ve got more football games left,” Paea said. “We’re just trying to get the ball for the offense. That’s our motto on the defense. In the beginning the offense was balling. If the defense, if we just do our job and execute, we would’ve had a better chance of winning this game.”
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.