The lost fumbles by wide receiver James Jones were costly because they were deep in Bears territory and could have easily been points on the scoreboard for kicker Mason Crosby. Most importantly, those points could have changed the approach of how the Bears would attack the rest of the game. They may have gambled and thrown the ball more on offense or blitzed and played more man on defense, but we'll never know. The Pack had a great opportunity to dictate how this game would be played but fumbled and committed silly mistakes, and the game was lost.
Coaches have different philosophies on how to play receivers on deep routes. Some say to watch the receivers' eyes while others, like the ones I grew up with, taught me to turn into the field of play, locate the ball and fade into the receiver forcing him into the sideline boundary (which is legal). This way you'll have a chance to make a play on the ball at its highest point, or adjust to the short throws to the receiver's outside shoulder. Against a tall receiver like Bears tight end Greg Olsen, you would be jumping with your arms and helmet going straight up through his chest and under his chin making it a very difficult catch. Anything less than a perfect throw would be forcing the receiver to come over the defensive back for the catch resulting in an interception, incomplete pass or an offensive pass interference call.
My other concern had been the lateness of coverage on the outlet passes. You never want to tip the coverage and open up holes in the defense. You have to anticipate the short throw when you've done your job and you trust in the rush to force the quarterback to get rid of the football. Lately those dump-offs have been for significant yardage. Missed tackles, is part of it, but reaction time needs to be improved. Late in the game linebacker Nick Barnett faked the blitz, and when he didn't come the back, he went into the flat but because of Barnett's being to closely position to the line of scrimmage was caught out of position and had to chase resulting in a needless facemask penalty.
So many times it's the littlest things that cost games, such as being in the perfect coverage with linebacker Brady Poppinga covering the tight end but gets caught looking into the backfield and his receiver Desmond Clark runs right by him for the game winner.
Unless you have an offensive juggernaut, you cannot commit turnovers, have silly penalties, blow assignments and win. The Bears didn't beat the Green Bay Packers, the Packers beat themselves. I'm going with the Pack again next week at home against another playoff contender - Washington Redskins. A young and talented football team that's solid on defense and an offense that loves to get the ball to their tight end.
Former safety Johnnie Gray played for the Packers from 1975-84. He was inducted into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.