Chicago Bears: grades
Week 15 Report Card: Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 13
The Bears tried to incorporate Matt Forte and handed off to him 20 times. Forte finished with a 3.5-yard average after averaging 4.5 yards per attempt in the first half. It's clear Green Bay made adjustments that enabled it to stop the run. Chicago, meanwhile, failed to adjust to what the Packers did on defense to snuff out the run. The majority of Forte's attempts came in the first half (13). As usual, as soon as the Bears fell behind they seemed to go into strictly passing mode.
Brandon Marshall turned in a stellar effort after the catch on a 15-yard touchdown in the second quarter. But the group as a whole struggled and should be held almost totally responsible for the offense failing to convert a third down all game in nine tries. The offensive line gave up four sacks, and Jay Cutler threw an interception that eventually allowed the Packers to take the lead just before halftime. The performance led to Marshall saying the offense should be held accountable, "even if that means jobs." We think Marshall is talking about several people associated with the offense, whether it's players or coaches.
Like Chicago, the Packers didn't put up big numbers with the rushing attack. But they made timely runs that allowed them to dominate time of possession by nearly seven minutes. Green Bay averaged 3.5 yards per rush but ran the ball 32 times for 113 yards. Chicago played the run fairly well but allowed DuJuan Harris to rip off a 21-yard run and surrendered a 14-yard burst to an aging Ryan Grant.
Aaron Rodgers finished with a passer rating of 116.8 and threw three touchdown passes to James Jones, who caught five passes for 60 yards. Jones did plenty of damage, but so did Randall Cobb, who finished with 115 yards and averaged 19.2 yards per catch. The Bears gave up six completions for gains of 21 yards or more, including two completions of 31 yards. All the long completions certainly aren't representative of Lovie Smith's bend-but-don't-break style of pass defense. Chicago sacked Rodgers three times, but the secondary failed to slow down the Packers' receivers and couldn't generate any turnovers.
Devin Hester deserves at least a little credit for trying to fight his way out of the slump he's experienced in the return game. Hester averaged 31.5 yards on two kickoff returns and 14 yards on three punt returns, including a 24-yarder that registered as his longest punt return since Nov. 11. The coverage units limited Cobb to an 18.5-yard average on kickoffs and negative average on punt returns. New Bears kicker Olindo Mare connected on a pair of 34-yard field goals, and punter Adam Podlesh finished with a 40.2-yard net average. Anthony Walters also recovered a fumbled punt for the Bears.
The coaching staff seemed to have prepared the Bears well for the game, judging from the team's performance in the first half. Where the staff's grade falls is in the adjustments made -- or not made -- at the half and throughout the game. Chicago started off running the ball effectively. Then Green Bay adjusted and shut down the run, and the Bears didn't seem to have an alternative plan to go to. As usual, nobody outside of Brandon Marshall made plays on offense. As usual, the Bears did nothing to remedy the situation. On defense, the Bears sacked Rodgers three times in the first half, but never got to him again.