The media coverage of the NFL is always prone to overreaction. With a week between games, every result gets magnified and in this new age of sports writing which puts a premium on bold predictions, analysts are quick to jump to conclusions.
Leading up to the Bears game, the talk was all about the Packers offense and why they were struggling. The answer was simple. Green Bay had a bad week. The offense did struggle against the Seahawks but there is no shame in that. And last week in Detroit, the Packers got their butts handed to them up front. They couldn’t run the ball and they couldn’t protect Aaron Rodgers. They got out played, but one bad game doesn’t make them a bad football team. The other guys get paid too.
As I said, fans and media tend to overreact (which is why I don’t write on game day) and too many bought into the sky is falling mentality. Rodgers told the fans to r-e-l-a-x during the week and he gave them a reason to in Chicago, when he torched the Bears defense, like he seemingly always does.
From start to finish, it was a clinic.
In previous weeks, head coach Mike McCarthy came out running, this week, with his team staring a 1-3 start in the face, he put the ball in the hands of his best player and never looked back.
The difference was plain as day. McCarthy called four straight passes to open the game and Aaron Rodgers rewarded his faith, finding Richard Rodgers for nine yards and then for 43. Then, Rodgers hit Jordy Nelson for gains of 17 and 10. Two plays later, Eddie Lacy found the end zone with 4:08 left in the first quarter. Bing, bang, boom the Packers offense of old was back.
The touchdown drive, which tied the game at 7-7, took just six plays to cover 81 yards and took 2:17 off the clock.
Green Bay wouldn’t see the ball again until 13:53 left in the second quarter, but when it did, the offense hummed like a well oiled machine. Rodgers opened the drive with a 23-yard dart over the middle to Nelson, then hit him for 15 up the middle again and Green Bay was in business. After a personal foul on the Bears and a 12-yard completion to Randall Cobb, Rodgers connected with Nelson for the touchdown and it was 14-10. The drive was 10 plays (7 passes) and covered 79 yards in 3:41.
After a Chicago touchdown, Bears head coach Mark Trestman must have sensed the onslaught coming because he attempted an onside kick that failed with just under four minutes in the half. Green Bay took over at their 39 and Rodgers proceeded to hit four straight passes for 36 yards. Then, the former MVP threw up a perfect pass on the right side to Cobb for a 22-yard touchdown — 61 yards, seven plays, 2:43.
In the second half, Green Bay opened with a field goal, then converted interceptions by Clay Matthews and Sam Shields into touchdowns on passes from Rodgers to Nelson and then to Cobb. By then the score was 38-17. Green Bay had run 42 plays and scored 38 points. Efficient doesn’t even begin to describe those numbers.
Even on their seventh and final drive, the Packers moved the ball as Rodgers hit Cobb for 46 yards to advance the ball to the Chicago two. A holding penalty and a blocked field goal prevented Green Bay from scoring on all seven possessions but by then the domination was done.
The box score may show that the Bears outgained the Packers 496-358, had more first downs 33-21 and possessed the ball longer, 36:22 compared to just 23:38, but by game’s end, there was no doubt about which team had the better offense or the better team.
The Bears offense is very good and has the talent to be on par with the Packers but they never will be, because Green Bay has Rodgers and the Bears have Cutler.
It’s clearer now than ever that Cutler is not and will never be in Rodgers class of quarterback. Number 12 was like a chess master, always in control, always one step ahead of the competition.
Of the 28 passes Rodgers attempted, he completed 22 and only one was close to being intercepted. He averaged 10.4 yards per passing attempt (Cutler 7.3), which is a staggering number that meant Green Bay averaged a first down every time Rodgers threw the ball.
Some may have questioned whether the Packers were still the team to beat in the NFC North and with the Bears sitting at 2-1 heading into Week 4, coupled with the fact that a win on their home field would have dropped Green Bay to 1-3 (0-2 in the division) it seemed like Chicago was poised to finally take control of the north.
Yet, like always, the Bears simply had no answer for Rodgers. His critics were silenced and those worried about the Packers offense should no longer be concerned. Yes, the running game is still an issue but Lacy and company will get it turned around.
Until then, the offense will revolve around Rodgers and his playmaking receivers. The running game will not be forgotten just as it wasn’t yesterday, but until Lacy or James Starks can hit some big plays, McCarthy is going to put the ball in his the hands of his elite quarterback and after the way Rodgers played yesterday, that seems like a damn good idea.