The topic of whether the Bears shouldn’t (or should) play their starters never interested me. It was an awful week to pick up the paper or listen to sports talk radio. It’s an annual discussion that hasn’t changed in years.
Everyone knows the pros and cons to both sides, except there is no real evidence that suggests one theory is better than the other. And unless Clay Matthews dribbled Jay Cutler’s head on the field like a basketball, the conversation would die as soon as the game ended.
So before the game, while I would’ve made the opposite decision that Lovie Smith ultimately made, I didn’t have a strong opinion either way. (Although when the game was over, I was happy Smith went with the regulars because it made for a (somewhat) entertaining three hours on Sunday afternoon. Entertainment goes out the window if the Todd Collins retirement tour took place at Lambeau Field. Unless, of course, you’re entertained by bad quarterbacking).
Smith’s decision also means, I have four quarters worth of notes from Sunday’s game. Feel free to comment on my thoughts or add your own.
- During the first few drives, it looked like Green Bay had a similar game plan to what you’d expect the Bears’ game plan to be: win, but make sure our key players walk off the field healthy. The Packers came out running the ball and with Aaron Rodgers getting rid of the ball quickly. The game plan changed as the game went on, because that one didn’t work so well, but surely they were hoping to prevent Rodgers from getting hit as many times as he did.
- The Bears continue to impress me with their ability to run to the outside, especially when they’re going around left end. Based on Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards (ALY), a formula that takes all carries and assigns the yards the offensive line is responsible for, the Bears are the second best team in the league running over left end. They’re 20th when they run over right end, but compared to being ranked no higher than 26th overall in the other three directions FO accounts for, 20th isn’t so bad.
- One reason why the Bears are brutal running up the middle — Chris Williams. He consistently stood out on Sunday.
- The Packers used the three-man rush throughout the game; the Bears never made them pay. And sometimes, the O-Line struggled to block the three.
- Defensively, it seemed that the Bears were tackling better than they had in recent weeks. However, it didn’t necessarily improve their third-down situations. The Packers were third-and-short on six of their 11 third down plays. However, this didn’t matter since the Bears were successful on five of the six third-and-short situations (nine of 11 third-down situations overall).
- Before the game, I started writing a post gushing about Johnny Knox — the guy who was supposed to stop the Bears’ unbelievable stretch of not having a 1,000-yard receivers. Knox needed only 40 yards Sunday to break the streak, but instead the Bears are now at nine years and counting without a 1,000- yard receiver. After his performance (0 catches despite 8 targets) on Sunday afternoon, Knox didn’t deserve to break the streak, although I won’t let Knox’s awful game stop my post (although now there is work to be done).
- I’m a big fan of Matt Bowen’s work at the National Football Post. Here’s his first look at the Bears-Packers game, including what happened on the deep ball to Greg Jennings that set up the winning touchdown.