As nice as it was for the Bears to look like a professional football team and compete with a team we all expect to be playing in January, the Bears still lost and nobody should be happy about that.
The Bears had their chances and didn’t execute. They followed the recipe almost perfectly. They kept Aaron Rodgers off the field, running for nearly 190 yards and dominating time of possession early on. But they didn’t make enough plays. That’s what decides the outcome of games.
Outside of Cutler and Forte, the Bears didn’t have a single player make a big play. While James Jones was jumping over Bears defensive backs and Eddie Lacy making one-handed grabs, the Bears got nothing. The biggest play was made by Clay Matthews, perfectly reading Cutler’s eyes for an interception. A good reminder that defensive players get paid too.
One thing that was clear is that the Bears have confidence in their coaching staff. They know they’re going to be put in a position to succeed and it’s up to them to come away with the win. In Week 1, they didn’t.
It’s hard not to look at the Cardinals and wonder what if Phil Emery had hired Bruce Arians instead of Marc Trestman? Arians wanted the job, he practically begged for it, but Emery went in another direction and it cost him his job.
The Cardinals might be better than the Packers. In six games with Carson Palmer last year, they averaged about 26 points per game and went 6-0. They got off to a fast start with him this year too as Palmer threw three touchdowns in a 31-19 win over New Orleans.
Palmer seems to have found a perfect fit with Arians, even though they don’t seem to have a lot of talent. Larry Fitzgerald isn’t what he once was, but it’s scary to think about what he could still do to the Bears, given what James Jones did. Michael Floyd and John Brown should be a good test for the Bears safeties.
The Cardinals defense is a bit more questionable this year. They lost Todd Bowles and nose tackle Dan Williams, a key to their run defense last year. They seemed fine against the Saints last week, but the Saints usually struggle to score on the road, regardless of who they go against. After one week, Arizona’s run defense ranks first in the league, but it’s hard to know how much stock to put in that, considering their opponent.
How the Bears Will Win
As well as Palmer has played since the start of last year, he’s not Aaron Rodgers and Rodgers needed to be damn-near perfect — and get big plays from his receivers — to beat the Bears.
More importantly than Palmer not being Rodgers, the Cardinals don’t have nearly the talent on the offensive line. When the Packers’ offensive line is healthy nobody gets pressure, the Bears included. Theycan get after Palmer and, unlike Rodgers, Palmer isn’t going to be able to get out of the way.
The Bears are going to harass Palmer and force at least two turnovers. In doing so, they’ll also be able to hide their awful secondary. This is a prime game for guys like Allen and McPhee to show they can get the job done.
Arizona’s defense figures to be much better than Green Bay’s, but they gave up 13 catches for 149 yards to New Orleans’ running back duo of Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson. Neither are anywhere near what Matt Forte is as a receiver and it could be a good chance for Jeremy Langford to make a few big plays.
The Bears offense might be really good this year. They scored on five of their eight drives against the Packers and were in scoring position on two more. That was in Kyle Long’s first game at right tackle and with three banged up wide receivers.
Way Too Early Bold Prediction
This is going to be McPhee’s breakout game. After going against one of the league’s premier right tackles and a quarterback who he had to keep in the pocket, McPhee won’t have to worry about either this week. Earl Watford struggled in his first career start at right tackle last week and McPhee has to be licking his jobs knowing Palmer isn’t going to run away from him.