The Green Bay Packers (10-4) continued their recent dominance of the Chicago Bears (8-6), beating them 21-13 and becoming the NFC North champions. This game leaves the Bears with slim playoff hopes.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers picked apart the Bears defense with precise throws and kept plays alive by staying upright. Jay Cutler did the opposite, missing receivers and holding the ball just long enough to get sacked four times. It was an ugly game throughout.
Brandon Marshall (six catches, 56 receiving yards, one touchdown) vowed redemption and lived up to the hype for a quarter and a half. The Packers double and tripled-teamed him after that, and Cutler had no one left to throw to. Well, Alshon Jeffery was open in the second half, but the referees decided to call a penalty on five passes thrown his way (three on Jeffery and two on the Packers). Then, they kept their flags in their pockets on a play where Jeffery was clearly interfered with. The Bears just couldn’t catch a break.
Only one group graded above average. Let’s see who it was.
Quarterback – D+
Cutler takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Sometimes I wish he could just throw the ball away instead. He now has seven games of less than 200 yards passing, a career high for a full season. I still don’t think it is entirely his fault. Garbage coaches, garbage tight ends and a garbage offensive line can make anyone stink.
Wide Receivers – C-
The refs giveth and they taketh away. Jeffery was called for three pass interference penalties, but was also interfered with twice for big gains late. I don’t care if refs are right or wrong, they just need to be consistent. They can’t start calling every little thing in the last 19 minutes of a game, but then call nothing on a clear interference with a minute to go.
Marshall played well, yet again, despite having little help. Hester wasn’t at fault on the interception, but he was at fault for being nonexistent the rest of the game.
Running Backs – D+
Forte is an above average back, but looks to have a severe case of the green flu. He got paid and his production went down. His decision-making was bad at the goal line on Sunday, and he just seems to slow down to a halt as games go on. This one was no different, gaining only 11 yards on seven carries in the second half. He did have 55 receiving yards in the second half, but 28 of them were meaningless on the last “drive” of the game.
Tight Ends/Fullback – F
This was the best game of Kellen Davis’ season. No drops and no fumbles. Cutler didn’t even target a tight end during the entire game. Can they just start more receivers? Someone is bound to get open then.
It’s too bad that FB Evan Rodriguez is lumped into this group. He has done a great job blocking all season when he has been healthy. The Bears should see what he can do with the ball in his hands.
Offensive Line – F+
Another game with more of what you have seen all season. Roberta Garza and Gabe Carimi had penalties and the rest of the group can only block for a two count. Any time your offense puts up 190 yards of total offense, you can bet the line is mostly to blame … Especially not being able to score a touchdown on 1st and Goal from the 5-yard line.
Defensive Line – C+
This group continues to be solid, but they still need to get more pressure on the quarterback. Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton each had 1.5 sacks, but the rest of the guys couldn’t get Rodgers to the ground. They are going to need to lead this defense moving forward with the rash of injuries going around the team. Israel Idonije is looking old.
Linebackers – B-
Lance Briggs is an absolute beast and Nick Roach fended off receivers the best he could. However, this linebacking core doesn’t intimidate anyone without Urlacher. Rodgers took advantage of every mistake these guys made. They did help hold the Packers to just 3.5 yards per rush.
Secondary – C
Tim Jennings is being sorely missed right now. Kelvin Hayden and D.J. Moore missed tackle after tackle and let up too many big plays. Charles Tillman continued his Pro Bowl season with his 10th forced fumble (tying an NFL single-season record), but even his perfect coverage wasn’t enough to stop the WR James Jones (three touchdowns) and the Packers. Major Wright and Chris Conte look a little banged up, and it showed on multiple missed tackles and blown coverages.
Special Teams – C-
The one thing that stood out the most to me was the play of the new guy, Joe Anderson. He is a wide receiver by trade, but made some great special teams tackles and just missed a blocked punt. Keep this guy on the field as much as possible.
Hester had some nice returns (2 KORs/31.5 YPR and 3 PRs/14.0 YPR) and should just be focusing his attention there moving forward. Punter Adam Podlesh is terrible (seventh game averaging 40.7 yards or less per punt). He had one punt inside the five, but had multiple opportunities to pin the Packers really deep and didn’t.
Also, the too many men on the field penalty early in the game could have been costly, but the defense bailed them out.
Coaching – F
I used to think that Lovie didn’t know how to make adjustments. Now, I know that he doesn’t know how to do it. He didn’t try to score points at the end of the first half when they had some time left. Then the Bears almost tried a fake field goal, but weren’t sneaky enough to get Marshall back on the field.
And the goal line runs were even worse. Once again, they ran the same play three times in a row. This whole staff was outcoached, yet again.
Overall – D+