Why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
(But this week just a bit more.)
A Thought on Aaron Rodgers
For the first time in his tenure with the Green Bay Packers, The Golden Boy hath lost his shine. His gold is more a beige. The Beige Boy.
It started a year ago with Greg Jennings criticizing Rodgers on the way out the door, causing national NFL media types to start a letter-writing campaign in hopes of having Jennings ex-communicated from the league. Aaron Rodgers not a good leader? Aaron Rodgers not a great teammate? How dare anyone insinuate such a thing!
(Side note: Outside of Devin Hester, who couldn’t play the position he was asked to play, how many players from Jay Cutler’s huddle have made such accusations?)
On opening night of the 2014 campaign there was Aaron Rodgers verbally ripping his fifth-round rookie center in front of a national audience. After the Packers loss to Detroit, one of their most woeful offensive performances in years, he ripped the individuals responsible for adjustments. (Some call these individuals “coaches”.) From Packers.com:
“We didn’t make enough adjustments to score enough points,” Rodgers said.
“Adjustments, yeah. We didn’t make enough adjustments,” Rodgers said.
“Their goal was they were going to limit the number of one-on-one coverages and roll the coverage to Jordy. We need balance. We have to run the ball better, more effectively. We haven’t done it in the first three games,” Rodgers said.
So it’s the coaches and their adjustments. And it’s those responsible for running the ball. So everybody on the offense except for…him? You think this was harmless? Mike McCarthy did not and took veiled shots back when he met the media:
“I’m not really up here to talk about scheme,” McCarthy said at his Monday news conference. “One thing I always talk to our players about all the time is scheme is not a crutch. The fundamentals and the things we do from an execution standpoint were not good enough, clearly, on offense.”
There is blood in the water for the first time in the Aaron Rodgers era in Green Bay. If the Bears don’t pounce on them at home like Alex Kintner, they are not ready to seize the moment and control of the NFC North.
DBB CLASSIC: I HATE THE PACKERS
- What’s kept the Packers pass rush from being effective thus far is their inability to stop the run and the Bears must be salivating at the opportunity to rush the football after facing three of the best defensive lines in the sport to open the season. The Bears know the best way to defeat Aaron Rodgers is to keep the football out of his hands. The run game is Weapon #1 in that arsenal.
- Bears front four has been inconsistent pressuring the quarterback but Sunday will be the first game of 2014 wherein the defensive ends will not have to be wary of the read option attack. In the fourth quarter against the Jets, when Jared Allen was allowed to unabashedly attack the quarterback, the pass rush showed it has the ability to be a serious threat and it’ll be interesting to see it unleashed for four quarters. Almost more important will be the continued development of the Bears inside rush, with Ego and Sutton both looking like potential long-term answers at the position.
- Let’s be honest, the Bears don’t play the Seahawks in Seattle this year. So barring health the Bears passing attack is a significant advantage over every single team on their 2014 schedule. (And remember, Marshall & Jeffery have yet to take the field healthy together this season.) The most underrated player in the NFL through three games has been Martellus Bennett, suddenly emerging as a match-up nightmare for defenses and the league’s most reliable red zone target.
- From Audibles: “Two quarterbacks will play Sunday at Soldier Field. One has completed 66.1% of his passes for 750 yards and a TD-INT ratio of 8-2. Passer rating? 98.2. The other has completed 62.7% of his passes for 697 yards and a 5-1 ratio. Passer rating of 95.1 Heading into Bears v. Packers, Bears have the quarterback playing at the higher level.” Jay Cutler started the season being rightfully lambasted on a Monday morning for the inexcusable decision-making leading to his throwing an interception to a defensive tackle and costing the Bears their home opener. He has spent the two weeks since playing some of his best football as a Chicago Bear, leading the banged-up group to difficult prime time road victories as underdogs in both cases. He must beat the Packers. He must beat them at Soldier Field. If they Packers score 30, he must score 31. If Rodgers completes 75% of his passes and tosses three touchdowns, he must complete 75.1% and throw four touchdown passes. This game can bury the Green Bay Packers. Jay Cutler holds the shovel.
- Bears were not prepared for Jeremy Kerley Monday night, attempting to cover him with a combination of Isaiah Frey and linebackers. (I warned about Kerley a week ago.) If they take the same approach Sunday against the Packers, Randall Cobb will be racing through the middle of the field untouched. (If I were Mel Tucker I would take a page out of Rex Ryan’s book from this past week and use one of my larger, more physical front-seven types to hit Cobb at the line of scrimmage. Jon Bostic would be a prime contender for the role.)
- History is still on this team’s side. The last time the Packers played at Soldier Field they scored the flukiest touchdown in the history of the building and exploited a blown coverage on fourth and impossible to win the division and send the Bears home. They had no business winning the game, and they knew that, but they left the city champions again. One can not underestimate not only their lack of intimidation at Soldier Field but their overflowing confidence.
- Packers pass rush hasn’t made a ton of impact plays thus far, registering only five sacks, but expect Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers to be hyper-motivated Sunday. This will force the Bears to utilize Eben Britton in their tight tackle position to help Mills and limit somewhat their creativity outside.
- Who is playing safety for the Bears? Even if the Bears announce starters or actives, who is going to finish the game playing safety for the Bears? It will be a question mark against Rodgers with Mundy and Conte – the Bears intended starters – playing. If they’re not out there the Bears will learn the vast difference between battling Geno Smith with backups and doing the same against Rodgers.
BECAUSE I LOVE CAM AND THIS PHOTOGRAPH
…Jared Allen to register his first sack of the 2014 season early in the game. Allen isn’t playing for the veteran minimum in Chicago and he does not want his season to require validation from PFF grades and readjusted pressures on Tuesday mornings. Sacks are what has defined Allen as one of the premiere pass rushers of the past ten years and sacks will ultimately be what gets him into the Hall of Fame. He sacks Rodgers before halftime Sunday.
I DON’T EXPECT…
…a shootout. A month ago I would have penciled both teams into the thirties and not been surprised if both teams ended up in the forties. But injuries in Chicago and turmoil in Green Bay have left me thinking this contest might be a bit more of a grind than I anticipated.
SPARKLES! (Watch this video)
A FEW RELEVANT LINKS
- Jason La Canfora breaks down Jay Cutler’s almost move to Washington in 2009. Three franchises drastically altered.
- A man picks all 15 Sunday and Monday games this past weekend and wins more than 57K on a $5 bet. Geno Smith’s last second jump ball in the end zone changed this guy’s life. This is another reason I need a legal sports book within 10 miles of my house.
- Bob McGinn in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel breaks down the Bears who he describes as dangerous, despite their many injuries.
A PADDY POWER GAMBLE
1-2 through three games after nailing Jets under 24 pts.
Most bets on Paddy Power go off at less than even odds but in their Race to 10 (meaning first team to score ten points) they offer Bears at even money. I see the Bears starting hot Sunday so drop $100 and double your money.
In three parts.
Part I. I think the Bears start strong on offense, feeding off the Soldier Field crowd and running game they’ve been waiting to fire.
Part II. But their failure to get off the field on third down will allow Green Bay to hang around for most of the afternoon. Bears defense continues their trend, however, of holding the opponent to field goals in the red zone.
Part III. Game is decided by three elements. (1) Costly Packers turnover in fourth quarter. (2) Bears pass rush finding their sea legs around that same time. (3) Matt Forte putting the game away on the ground.
Chicago Bears 24, Green Bay Packers 20