“So, how’s that hopey, changey thing going for you?” This was a direct quote taken from Sarah Palin in relation to the Chicago Bears chances at making the post-season after beating the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field Monday night.
In all seriousness, fans now go from feeling just about a frustrated as they possibly can, to having a glimmer of hope reinstated due to an extremely unexpected win against the NFC North leaders.
Coming off of the bye week and knowing you are going to be facing off against the Packers is a glorious way to get re-acclimated with the feeling of football, but this time just didn't feel the same for many Bears fans.
The week prior to the bye, the Bears’ season went into a complete downward spiral after losing to the Redskins. Adding insult to injuries, the team’s offensive leader and oft questioned “franchise quarterback” Jay Cutler and the only consistent force on defense, Lance Briggs, go down to long term injuries.
After that game, not only the players, but many of us fans just needed to get away from the frustrations. After enjoying the time away, Friday came around and I was more than happy to start thinking about what this trip to Wisconsin would be like.
As we all know, things have not gone very well for the Bears up there, especially of late, and I for one had no reason to expect any change to take place this time around with all things considered. The only thing left was to see how well Josh McCown would perform in his second tour of duty this season.
All that abruptly changed with a Shea McClellin sighting early in the first quarter. He sacked Aaron Rodgers, which turned out to be a jump-start to not only the night’s festivities, but hopefully, one young man’s struggling career.
Rodgers went to the locker room to get discount double checked out by the medical staff and it took quite some time for him to return to the sideline, but when he did, the crowd gave him a standing ovation, and in return, he gave a thumbs up, all while wearing his best Bill Belichick attire (sweats and a hoodie).
That was just what the Bears needed to get an added pep in their step and the confidence they needed to know they could walk out of Lambeau with a victory.
I’m not going to get into the statistics that came out of the game, as this is more of a keep an eye on things to come piece. We all know there is on enough talent on the offensive side of the ball for the Bears to compete for a North Division title.
Most of the changes that need to come for the Bears to get the ship righted are on the defensive side of the ball. D-line pressure is a must. All of us questioned the McClellin draft pick in the first round knowing his credentials coming out of Boise State, but if this is a sign of things to come that maybe he is starting to get things figured out, that could be a much awaited blessing in disguise.
Not only will this provide a pass rush coming from both sides, it will also provide depth along the line, allowing either Peppers or Wooten to slide down the in nickel packages.
Add to the list the huge signing of Pro Bowl tackle Jay Ratliff and things just got a lot more optimistic. Jonathon Bostic played fairly well against the Packers, and Khaseem Greene did decent in his first start of his career. Both of these rookie backers have a lot of potential, but the key for them to unleashing it is to stop thinking about plays and just react. And the only way to get there is repetition and film study.
The safety position is still a disaster, and experience cannot be blamed for Major Wright and Chris Conte’s lack of grasping the position. They have been afforded every opportunity but continue to fail to seize the moment to become productive players at this level.
So, you will continue to see Conte playing 25 yards off the ball to try an guarantee he doesn’t get beat deep and Wright crashing the line of scrimmage in the out of control fashion that we have all grown accustom to.
Two things will help the safeties if they can’t find a way to help themselves: pressure on the passer and knowing the situations, landmarks (positions on the field in which they line up on specific calls) and tendencies of a particular team they face off against.
Next week we have the much-improved Detroit Lions coming to Soldier Field, so this is about as close to a must-win for a 5-3 football team as you can get, if strictly for the tie-breaking aspects.
I don’t expect jay Cutler to play in this game, despite the rumors swirling around his return. There is no reason to rush him back when the back-up has been playing well enough to win. We shall see if the trend of Peanut Tillman having Calvin Johnson’s number will continue, or if the Lions will look to start a streak of their own.
All I know for certain is with the win against the Pack, Chicago just bought themselves some time and confidence heading into Sunday’s division rivalry against the Lions.
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Filed under: Post Game Report