Report Card: Packers vs. Bears

As you'd expect from the first loss of the season, the Packers weren't honor students at Chicago. The lone bright spot was their run defense, which held Matt Forte in check.

PASSING OFFENSE: C — Both Packers turnovers came at or toward the end of both halves. While Aaron Rodgers' lone miscue was insignificant as the interception came on a deflected Hail Mary pass into the end zone before halftime, receiver James Jones' fumble on a catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter was inexcusable and wound up costing Green Bay a potential shot at winning the game. Linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher chased down Jones along the sideline, and Jones committed the cardinal sin of carrying the football with his inside hand, allowing Urlacher to make the strip and keep it inbounds for a Bears recovery. As egregious were 10 penalties by the offense, the majority of them in passing situations and all but two of them on the offensive line. The Bears didn't have a sack of Rodgers, but Pro Bowl end Julius Peppers was the unsung hero for their defense in the way he provoked numerous infractions on veteran tackles Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, the latter of whom had a blatant hold on Peppers to wipe out a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley. Rodgers managed to have a big game, going 34-of-45 for 316 yards and a 7-yard laser for a touchdown to Greg Jennings. Rodgers also had the other touchdown on a short scramble from pressure. Finley and wideout Donald Driver were the favorite targets with nine catches apiece, and the former thrived on single coverage down the field to pile up 115 yards. Rookie tight end Andrew Quarless, making his pro debut, dropped the only throw to him when he was by his lonesome in the end zone.

John Kuhn had the only big run, an 18-yarder.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — The Packers made modest gains on the ground in game two without Ryan Grant, but 15 rushes for 63 yards (4.2 average) even against a stout Bears run defense won't cut it if the offense is going to shed the one-dimensional label it has carved out for itself. The numbers Monday were next to nothing — seven carries for all of 8 yards in the first half — until Rodgers tucked the ball away twice for 20 yards (including 3-yard touchdown), and converted fullback John Kuhn plowed through and carried several Bears defenders on an inside run for 18 yards. Kuhn (six rushes for 31 yards) was again more effective than supposed lead back Brandon Jackson (seven for 12 yards) as they stayed in a platoon with the playing time at halfback. Urlacher broke through unblocked a few times to keep runners from finding the second level.

PASS DEFENSE: D — Bears quarterback Jay Cutler's final numbers of 16-of-27 for 221 yards and a touchdown don't stand out, but it was an awful night for the Packers in pass coverage. To top it all off was rookie safety Morgan Burnett's pass-interference penalty on Earl Bennett deep in Green Bay territory, putting the Bears in position to kick the game-winning field goal in the waning seconds. That penalty, along with a roughing-the-passer call on rookie linebacker Frank Zombo earlier in the final quarter, negated interceptions by Nick Collins and Nick Barnett, respectively. Nickel back Sam Shields, the third rookie in a starting role on defense, was picked on by Cutler and gave up three explosive pass plays, including catches of 36 and 31 yards by Johnny Knox (four catches for 94 yards). Athletic tight end Greg Olsen (five catches for 64 yards, touchdown) dominated nickel linebacker Brandon Chillar on a few downfield shots. Derrick Martin, filling in briefly for an injured Collins at safety, had the only pick of Cutler on a badly overthrown ball in the end zone. The Packers had three sacks of the Chicago QB, all in the first half, but none by linebacker Clay Matthews, who had a league-high six in the first two games and was neutralized more often than not by an array of blockers.

RUSH DEFENSE: B — One of the few areas the Packers realized some success. The Bears ran the football 18 times for 77 yards, which computes to a healthy average of 4.3 yards per rush. Yet, Cutler, a surprising equal to Rodgers in the mobility department, gave a big boost to the yardage numbers by pulling the ball down three times for 37 yards. Matt Forte broke through for an explosive run of 12 yards early in the game, but quick recognition and pursuit from the likes of cornerback Charles Woodson and Matthews shut down Forte the rest of the way. Forte finished with only 29 yards in 11 carries. Green Bay also snuffed out two Wildcat plays in which Forte took the snap with Cutler split out as a receiver, and the Bears gained little in those run situations.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D-minus — First-year punter Tim Masthay had the best of games and the worst of games rolled into one. He had booming punts of 58 and 57 yards and finished with a gross average of 50 yards, but his net average was an atrocious 19 yards, thanks in part to his coverage unit not corralling a suddenly unleashed Devin Hester. The Bears' electrifying returner snapped out of a lengthy dry spell with a 28-yard runback on a line-drive kick by Masthay of 35 yards, and Hester later had a lot of room to get going as Masthay outkicked the coverage on the 57-yarder and dashed 62 yards for a touchdown. The Bears also averaged 30.3 yards on kickoff returns, and Mason Crosby knocked a short kick out of bounds. His first field-goal miss of 2010 came on a block by Peppers, who split rookie Bryan Bulaga and Josh Sitton up the middle, on a 37-yard attempt in the third quarter. Jordy Nelson averaged only 19.4 yards with five runbacks on kickoffs, but he had another big one of 40 yards. Tramon Williams' lone punt return went for 10 yards.

COACHING: D — The Packers reverted to their old ways of recent seasons past with a team-record 18 penalties and awful special-teams play. The former falls on coach Mike McCarthy for the discipline he preaches not showing up in a prime-time game. The latter falls on special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum, who was foolish to let Masthay kick to the dangerous Hester, never mind his diminished big returns the last couple seasons. McCarthy for the second straight week made a bad decision to challenge a call, this time on the pivotal Jones fumble that was upheld. The lost timeout kept the Packers from perhaps giving themselves enough time in the last minute to get their offense on the field to try to counter the Bears' go-ahead field goal that came with only four seconds left. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers in the first half employed an effective mix of blitz packages, including a cameo for the one-lineman Psycho look, to rattle Cutler, but Capers scaled back some of the pressure looks down the stretch that allowed Cutler to thrive in the vertical game.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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