"> ">

Commentary: Packers manhandled, out-coached

It's the second game of the season and the home opener at Lambeau Field for a possible 2-0 start and what do the Packers do in this "Super Bowl or bust" season? They lose, or I should say, were manhandled by the Chicago Bears.<p>

Chicago has talented young players in quarterback Rex Grossman, running back Thomas Jones and a very aggressive defense that had three huge takeaways, including a fumble recovery on the Packers 5-yard line before the half that was returned 95 yards for a touchdown. Some people think that was the turning point of the game for a 14-3 lead.

If you can remember last year's game the Pack spotted the Bears 14 points only to come back and score 34 unanswered points. Now I'm sitting up in the Lambeau Field press box thinking how ugly the Packers played in the first half and hoping the defense would shut down the Bears in the second half. I was hoping the Packers would force the Bears to punt in the third quarter, take the ball, slowly move up and down the field, and take full control of the game. After seeing what the Packers did in the season opener on the road against the much talked about defensive line of the Super Bowl runner-up Carolina Panthers, what else was I to think? That never happened.

The turning point of the game, in my opinion, was when the Bears took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 79 yards, scoring a touchdown in six plays. To me that broke the back of the Packers and forced them to get into that catch-up mode. Over the last couple of years that means frantic passes by quarterback Brett Favre resulting in incompletions and game-ending interceptions.

I know it's only been two games but how do you judge this team? They beat the strong teams and lose to the mediocre ones. The offense reminded me of how they were dominating last year only to be manhandled by the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day. The defense? Well, it's back to basics. The Panthers had receivers running free in the secondary and so did the Bears. Players missed assignments or didn't play out their duties to the fullest. Several times in zone coverage against the Bears, Green Bay's defenders played receivers running short patterns when they should have been playing the player deeper in the zone and reacting to the shorter route. This resulted in Grossman completing easy passes over the outreached arms of the defender.

Surely, the defense missed nose tackle Grady Jackson but there were too many technique errors in this game for Jackson to make a difference. Guys were overrunning the point of attack, which means the guys were panicking and trying to do someone else's job. Players that were in the hole taking on the lead blocker had their head down and unable to see the play instead of having their head up and shedding the block and keeping some type of leverage on the play. There were way too many runs by running back Thomas Jones up the middle and off tackle which leads me to believe that the scraping linebacker, or the filling safeties, were not getting to their gaps.

Unfortunately, the Bears would not allow the Pack to dictate the game on defense. Chicago moved Grossman around in the pocket and showed all types of misdirection and reverses to slow down the rush. On the Bears' first possession, they shifted at least four times just to determine Green Bay's coverage. Every time they shifted, a Packer went into motion. They shifted receivers to check man coverage and then they shifted tight ends to see if a linebacker was blitzing or staying in coverage.

If you want to know how tough it is to play in the National Football League, ask the coaches. Last week Carolina's head coach Fox admitted he was out-coached by the Packers. Mike Sherman was simply out-coached by the Bears' new head coach and defensive guru Lovie Smith.

The Packers have a tough challenge facing the Indianapolis Colts on the road on Sunday. As mentioned this could be a roller coaster ride providing the Packers defense clean up their mental mistakes and put it all together play as a team. If they don't score you can't lose.

Holdout Mike McKenzie played adequate in his debut, but he showed his rustiness as he allowed the receiver to come over his back to knock the ball away on a play. If he wants to be as good as he thinks he is he needs to stop and go get the ball at the highest point instead of running along and hoping it's gong to fall into his hands. Big-time players make big-time plays in crucial situations.

No, I haven't forgotten how the Packers offense broke down inside the 30. I was hoping that the Packers have realized as the running game goes so does the Packers offense.


Packer Report Top Stories