Countdown to the NFC Championship: 6 Days (Part 2)

The second part of today’s post will be a recap of the Week 17 matchup between the Bears and Packers , this time at Lambeau Field. The Packers had to win in order to clinch a playoff berth; the Bears had already clinched the #2 seed for the NFC playoffs. However, Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith elected to not rest any of his starter, saying that the Bears always want to beat the Packers; and how it was important to try to kep a rhythm going into the playoffs.

The Bears surprisingly led 3-0 at halftime; but ended up losing 10-3, with Jay Cutler getting intercepted with 30 seconds left in the game on the potential game-tying drive. Here is the box score. Now, a few thoughts:
1) While Lovie did play all of the starters the whole game, it was obvious that the Bears’ game plan was more like a preseason game—-geared more toward not showing too much to a potential playoff opponent than actually trying to exploit advantageous matchups. Offensively, the Bears do not make adjustments to the Packers’ blitzes; choosing instead to let their offensive linemen, TEs, and backs attempt one-on-one blocks. The runs were all powers and sweeps—no traps or counters. Until the last couple drives, the passes were all simple routes—no combination routes or crossing patterns. Quick stat—over the season, the Bears averaged nearly 8 yards per pass attempt; in this game, the Bears averaged 4.3 yards per attempt. Defensively, it was pretty much cover-2 shell all game long—you could see the difference in the defensive scheme from this game to the Divisional Round game versus the Seahawks. It is obvious the Bears were trying to play it safe, and not show too much.

2) The Packers had no answer for RB Matt Forte and the Bears’ improved offensive line.
Matt Forte ran it 15 times for 91 yards; and caught 8 passes for 60 more. And this was a game the PAckers HAD TO WIN. Unless the Packers put Woodson on Forte, they have no one that can cover him out of the backfield. If I noticed this, don’t think this got past Mike Martz.

3) The Packers’ offensive line performed much better in this game than the Week 3 matchup. The Packers’ did not allow Peppers to dominate this game—and they only had 4 penalties (opposed to 18 in the Week 3 game). However, their longest run of the day was 8 yards. 8.

4) The Bears missed opportunities to win this game in the Red Zone.
You cannot go 0 for anything in the Red Zone and expect to beat a team as good as the Packers. You have to get points when you have the chance.
5) Aaron Rodgers took advantage of the lapses in coverage by the Bears. The Bears did well overall, holding the Packers to 10 points; but they allowed Aaron Rodgers to average 13 yards per pass completion (as opposed to in the Week 3 matchup), and the Packers had 6 pass plays of over 20 yards. The only time that happens in a Cover-2 defense is when someone loses the integrity of their zone. And Aaron Rodgers will take advantage of those—EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Overall, a game the Bears had a chance to not only win, but put away pretty early. And we will see on Sunday if allowing the Packers into the playoffs comes back to bite them.

10 responses

  1. Thorsten

    Obviously, this is a dream match up for the NFC Conference Final! And I can’t wait till Sunday!

    Now, I am curious what we will ge from Martz in this game. He seems to be very careful with what to show (last game against the Packers) in his game plan. Like using Olson the last couple of game scarcely as a receiver but mostly for blocking duties. Now all of a sudden he becomes the No. 1 receiver like he was a year ago.I know it depends on match ups, but I believe he likes to use players that seem to have fallen under the radar to his advantage.

    So I expect to see something big from players like Devin Aromashodu who hasn’t seen much playing time and if, he has not gotten many opportunities to catch the ball. So I think he might use him in certain situations for a big play. Same goes for Kellen Davies although he had that TD catch against the Seahawks. Maybe even Rashied Davis. Should be fun to see what he plans for the Packers.

    Many fans complaint about the use of the wildcat against the Seahawks. And I agree that the one where Forte played QB and threw the pcik was plain stupid, but what it does, it makes the Packers game plan for it. And some plays actually worked quite well (I think Bennett got a 1st down from it.

    So I expect to see some ‘trickery’ from Martz.

    How it’s gonna work out, we will see.

    And if our O- Line can continue to protect Jay like in the last couple of games, we’re gonna see a pretty decent fight at Soldier Field!

    January 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    • Well, remember Olsen did have 5 catches in the finale against Green Bay too. So i think it has more to do with people having to bring safeties up to help in the running game, now that our line is set and playing better, and Forte is running so well. If teams start having to bring a safety down, all of sudden you have one safety deep, and he has to decide whether to shade toward Knox running deep or Olsen, they would probably 99% of the time help on Knox. So if we can continue to run the ball, Olsen and Kellen Davis will have shots. Dont forget too, Forte had 8 catches is that last game—-so its obvious the Packers’ MBs have trouble playing back in coverage—and I expect Martz to take advantage of that.

      January 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

      • johnnyharvard

        I would love to see more two TE sets. I hear Clark is being activated for this game. Davis is a threat too, so if they put Woodsen on Olsen like they love to do than there’s Clark or Davis opened or being covered by a LB most likely. That would also discourage their Mathews edge blitz and Woodsen from the slot blitz combo they love to run. I think if they have to go 4 on 5 or even 5 on 5 that gives us a huge advantage as Cutler can escape one blitzer if he beats his guy.

        January 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

      • i think 2 TEs is the way to beat a 3-4 defense, because you dont give the OLBS that short edge. and you def trust Clark pass blocking more than Davis. Makes alot of sense.

        January 23, 2011 at 10:19 am

      • johnnyharvard

        I think Martz is smart enough to exploit that. I also think Davis has become an excellent blocker, but he’s more a mauler so run game suits him. I see him crunching people on special teams. He’s a huge reason why Hester has re-emerged as the threat he is. I think two TE’s will be the way to go in a lot of our short yardage sets as they can go run or pass there. That’ll make 4 TE’s active though. I think that leaves DA shit out of luck.

        January 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm

      • small loss. i think part of the reason DA hasnt had success this year to follow up the last 4 games of last year is because teams now know all he can do is run a go route. anytime he tried any other route, he just gets manhandled during the route.

        January 23, 2011 at 12:04 pm

      • johnnyharvard

        I think its attitude for DA. He has that nonchalant attitude and plays very soft. We definitely need to toughen up at receiver. Hester and Knox are kinda soft too.

        January 23, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    • johnnyharvard

      Great points Thorsten. As I’ve been mentioning it appears people are over looking the fact the Bears held back in week 17. Except for this report I’m about to post I have heard little nationally about that fact. http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6037194

      January 22, 2011 at 8:56 pm

  2. Great post bud. Honestly, I am a little surprised that the Bears have been able to do what they have done this year. Their coach has been on the hot seat (well not anymore) and their quarterback has also been under fire. However, they have responded well, with the improving O-Line and have a chance at the Super Bowl oddly enough. They gotta thank the Broncos too for the blessing that is Jay Cutler cuz he has played very well at the right times this year. Gonna be a good matchup on Sunday vs. the Pack and Aaron Rodgers. Really excited to see it. Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I’d love to hear what you think. http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2011/01/17/one-bronco%E2%80%99s-garbage-is-another-bear%E2%80%99s-treasure/

    January 18, 2011 at 12:54 am

    • thanks for the input bro. Yeah, I gotta be honest—I wasnt sure how I felt about the Orton-Cutler trade at first. It seemed like alot to give up. But looking back, when you see who the broncos drafted, and you throw in Johnny Knox on our side, it was a clear WIN for the bears. Borderline stealing.

      January 18, 2011 at 9:20 am

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