What worked for the Bears against the Colts sure didn’t fly at Lambeau
BY RICK TELANDER firstname.lastname@example.org
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 13: Clay Matthews #52 of the Green Bay Packers sacks Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 13, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bears 23-10. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Golly, gee, I traveled — let me unfold the map — 205 miles by automobile to see this, this … hog slaughter?
The pastures were nice. Corn, too. Wisconsin had more rain than Illinois.
But when Jay Cutler’s deep pass bounced of Brandon Marshall’s hands in the end zone with three minutes gone in the second half, what came to mind were miles and miles of snow-covered dirt.
Not the Bears in the Super Bowl. Not that shiny offense we thought we had. Not anything good for the Bears at all.
I guess the Indianapolis Colts really are that bad. The Bears whipping of them n Sunday means nothing.
No, it means something. It means the Packers watched the film, saw how stupid the Colts were when they single-covered Marshall. It means they saw how porous the Bears offensive line is. It means they remembered the Colts finished 2-14 last year and were starting a rookie quarterback.
The fake field goal that the Packers turned into a shovel pass from holder Tim Mashtay to backup tight end Tom Crabtree for a touchdown meant the they also knew the Bears could be fooled by being too aggressive and brainless.
Maybe they knew that coach Lovie Smith has no idea how to beat the Packers in Green Bay. This now makes five consecutive Bears losses at Lambeau Field.
This 23-10 Bears defeat was in the NFC North, against the Bears closest rivals, against a team that has Super Bowl aspirations. It was not a season opener at home against an amoeba.
It’s one thing not to target Marshall 15 times with passes, as he had been against the Colts. Quarterback Cutler said on Tuesday, “That’s not going to happen. It’s just not.’’
Right he was. And how.
That dropped, TD-certain, pass was the first time Cutler had even thrown in Marshall’s direction. Decoys are nice. But at some point they fail to work and become statues.
The Packers secondary often came to the line appearing to be in a single-man coverage of Marshall, and then the safety would creep over before the snap and that was that.
Naturally, when it was too late, Cutler started flinging more passes Marshall’s way. Remember the big wide receiver had caught nine for 119 yards and a TD against the Colts. That was first-team All-Pro rate. This was cut rate, all the way. Five targeted, two caught for 24 yards.
Here’s a weird fact: Cutler would have been better off never throwing to Marshall. Indeed, he would have been better off never throwing a pass to anybody at all.
Three of his passes to wideout Earl Bennett were intercepted, and one intended for Marshall was. You’ll hear the blabber about how important it is not to lose the game of turnovers and all that. Of course, it’s important! It’s nice to have more touchdowns and field goals than the other team, too.
But turnovers and one TD are what happen to a team that’s not as good as the other one.
Cutler seemed to be raging against his team most of the night, but it might have just been the thousand extra NFL cameras catching him doing it. ``This game, against a team like that, you can’t fall behind like that,’’ he said. Among other things.
Could we talk about how slippery Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, he of the Rupunzel golden locks, is? He twirled around the Bears massive J’Marcus Webb and other huge linemen to sack Cutler 31/2 times. It gets tiring seeing that sleeveless biceps pose and roar after awhile.
When Marshall did catch his first pass—a 10-yard out with a little more than seven minute to go in the game — it seemed almost bizarre. Had we seen this offense last week or not?
Oh, right. These were the Packers. Cattle strong. Farm boy strong-armed. That would be quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who has such an accurate and quick release, with such foresight, that it’s a wonder he was sacked five times while going 22-for-32 for 219 yards, a TD and an interception. Kudos right here to little Bears cornerback Tim Jennings, who got that lone Rogers pick, Jennings’ third interception in two games.
But Brian Urlacher? The Hall-of-Fame-to-be middle linebacker? He’s a foot slow and a dollar short. His impact was nil. One time tailback Cedric Benson ran right past him, and it was almost sad. Knee injury or age, this was not a pretty thing to see.