What We Learned: Packers vs. Bears

What did we learn about the Chicago Bears after a 21-14 defeat to Ryan Grant and the rival Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field? Start with our five-pack of observations made straight from the press box.

1. Too many three-step drops on passing plays are killing Cutler
It's easy to understand why offensive coordinator Ron Turner keeps calling so many three-step drops for quarterback Jay Cutler, what with the blocking up front proving to be inept each and every week. That being said, both of Cutler's INTs Sunday against the Packers came on three steppers, first when he underthrew Devin Aromashodu near the numbers on the right side and second when he miscommunicated with Johnny Knox along the left sideline. Since he was only three steps behind the line of scrimmage when letting loose of the football, there was nowhere for him to go once the defense started to make its push and Cutler delivered both passes awkwardly off his back foot.

Turner calling more seven-stop drops seems like suicide at this point, but at least it would give Cutler more of an opportunity to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball with a head of steam – assuming there actually is a pocket, of course.

2. Harrison isn't good enough to replace Harris after this season
Many Bears fans have decided moving on without defensive tackle Tommie Harris after the 2009 season is the way to go, especially with a $2.5 million roster bonus due to come his way in March and not enough production to warrant getting it. But since Harris plays the most important position in Lovie Smith's version of the Cover 2, the three-technique tackle, that means Chicago needs to find a capable replacement to be that one-gap penetrator in the trenches. Don't look for it to be Marcus Harrison, who was solely responsible for the 62-yard touchdown run Ryan Grant delivered on Green Bay's first play from scrimmage because he was way out of his gap, plus he only has three career sacks in 29 games played.

While Harrison was deemed to have first-round talent when he came to the Bears in Round 3 of the 2008 NFL Draft, the one-time Arkansas Razorback is bigger than the 310 pounds he's listed at and needs to whip himself into shape this offseason.

3. Turner made no attempt whatsoever to establish the run
Yes, the Midway Monsters dug themselves into another early deficit, this time 13-0 against the Packers, which partially explains why running back Matt Forte was only given six carries in the first half at Soldier Field. That being said, the Bears trimmed the lead down to 13-7 before intermission and never trailed by more than seven points again – they even led 14-13 in the fourth quarter – but Forte still only got six rushing attempts in the second half. Meanwhile, Grant, who has been running behind a terrible offensive line himself all year long in Green Bay, rushed for 137 yards on 20 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns on the ground.


TE Greg Olsen
AP Images: M. Spencer Green

The scoreboard had nothing to do with Turner calling pass plays time and time again, because this offense simply can't run the football effectively facing a quality opponent – and he knows it.

4. Olsen hasn't played anything like a Pro Bowler despite the hype
The moment Cutler arrived from Denver with that big bow on his head, tight end Greg Olsen did the smart thing and immediately became best friends with his new signal caller. It was assumed by many that the two former first rounders would immediately mesh on the field, too, with Cutler elevating the Chicago passing game to new heights and Olsen being the main beneficiary with gaudy numbers and Pro Bowl votes. Instead, Olsen is only averaging 9.1 yards on his 51 receptions, he has gone over 45 yards in only two of 13 games and he hasn't scored since a three-TD effort in Week 9.

The pass down the seam he dropped in the fourth quarter Sunday, the one that ultimately led to a failed challenge by Smith, was just another in a long line of tough catches he has failed to secure this season.

5. Green Bay treated Chicago just as Chicago treated St. Louis
When the Bears beat the Rams by the somewhat narrow margin of 17-9 in Week 13, fans were wondering why the win wasn't more decisive since St. Louis came into that game 1-10 and might be the worst team in the league. Both Cutler and Smith admitted that they held back to some degree after taking an early lead, focusing on running the ball, winning the field-position battle on special teams and relying on the D to stop what has been a wretched Rams offense all season long. The only way to lose would have been to make a handful of mistakes and give away some easy scores, so the Bears chose to take their collective foot off the accelerator and play it safe against a vastly inferior foe – that's exactly what the Packers did Sunday.

Green Bay got off to a 13-0 lead early and very well could have thrown the ball all over the field with Aaron Rodgers and Co., but since the Packers knew they were the better team in every phase of the game, they called off the dogs and did just enough to emerge with a victory.


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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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