Pack Up The Season: Bears DOA At Lambeau
By Chuck Sudo in News on Nov 10, 2014 5:00PM
Jay Cutler fumbled the football on this sack by Green Bay defensive end (and former Bear) Julius Peppers in the second quarter of Sunday night's mauling. Peppers recovered the ball. (Photo credit: Tom Lynn/Getty Images)
Can the Chicago Bears sink any lower than their current nadir? That’s the question sports columnists, Bears beat writers and fans of the team are asking after Sunday night’s 55-14 thrashing at the hands of the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. The loss dropped the Bears to 3-6 on the season and, even though they’re still theoretically in the playoff picture—thanks, NFL parity—the reality is now clear.
The Bears, with high expectations heading into the season, have lost five of their last six games and returned from their bye week looking as undisciplined, unfocused and unmotivated as they did in back-to-back losses to Miami and New England. And there aren’t many “gimme” wins on their remaining schedule as they head into contests against Detroit, Minnesota and Dallas. You can bet Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford and Dallas’ Tony Romo are relishing the opportunity to torch the Bears secondary. Let’s dissect the keys to the game, shall we?
Aaron Rodgers: Anyone who still believed the dropoff between Green Bay’s All-Universe quarterback and Jay Cutler was slight should have had it hammered into their skulls the gulf is very wide. Rodgers’ stat line was even gaudier than Tom Brady’s against the Bears two weeks ago: 18 of 27 passing for 315 yards, six touchdowns and a 145.8 quarterback rating in the first half as the Pack rolled to a 42-0 halftime lead. Rodgers, who sat out the second half, was everything Cutler was supposed to be when the Bears traded for him: mobile, patient, capable of making smart decisions and not force passes where they don’t belong.
The Bears Offense: Bears fans were sold a bill of goods in believing the Bears offense could score enough points to overcome a shitty defense. Jay Cutler didn’t protect the ball again and threw two interceptions to go with 22 of 37 passing for 272 yards and a touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall. Cutler was sacked three times for 18 yards in lost yardage and lost a fumble when Julius Peppers became the latest former Bear to haunt his former team while wearing Green Bay myrtle and gold. Former Bears great Ed O'Bradovich had the best summary of Cutler on WSCR-AM's postgame show: "we got a quarterback who couldn't hit a bull in the ass with a banjo."
The offense only mustered 315 yards of total offense. Knowing Cutler would be Cutler, Green Bay’s defense was able to contain Matt Forte (17 carries, 54 yards; three receptions, 27 yards), Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. With those three in check, Cutler fell back on old habits and relied on Brandon Marshall to get the offense going. Marshall had eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown, but much of the yardage was collected in the garbage time that was the entire second half.
Defense: If Mel Tucker returns for a third season as defensive coordinator, you should start rooting for another team. The Bears and Packers both had bye weeks but, while Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Capers put together a game plan that involved turning linebacker Clay Matthews loose to wreak havoc on the Bears offense, Tucker neither had a game plan in place to neutralize Rodgers and the Packers offense nor was able to make second half adjustments. Sure, the Bears defense is depleted by injuries but they aren’t playing with discipline. They look like 11 chickens running around without heads—there’s no semblance of a defensive scheme, let alone being able to implement one. Which we’ll use as a segue to our next point.
Dumbass penalties: This Bears squad hurts itself as much as their opponents pound them. The Bears were assessed 11 penalties for 163 yards Sunday night. That’s the third-most in team history and the most since 1951. The lack of discipline on defense has carried over to the offensive side, with several false start calls. And don’t get us started on the special teams. Chris Williams' 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown was a cherry atop a turd sundae.
Smells Like Malodorous Teen Spirit: Tucker and special teams coach Joe DeCamillis are most certainly gone after the season but the way the Bears returned from the bye week means all cards should be on the table. That means head coach Marc Trestman should not feel as though his job is secure, nor should several players on this team. Trestman is such a wet blanket right now and any doubts his players tuned him out were loudly answered Sunday night. Trestman can’t even accept accountability for the team’s performance correctly as he embraced clichés like “this loss falls on me” after the game while not demanding accountability from his staff and players.
There are some Bears players who still seem to have that fire such as Marshall and offensive lineman Kyle Long, but the team as a whole looks like it’s checked out on the season. Blame injuries if you wish, but every NFL team has them and the best teams respond with good depth, planning and passion. The Bears have none of those in place.