Offensive Breakthrough Overshadowed By Defensive Struggles Against Packers

Offensive Breakthrough Overshadowed By Defensive Struggles Against Packers
Lance Briggs walks off the field after losing to the Packers. Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune

Sunday’s 38-17 loss to rival Green Bay serves as a reminder that this Bears group has a lot to work after a fourth of the season now in the books.

The Beas’ offense had arguably its best first half of football prior to the Martellus Bennett non-touchdown call with time expiring in the second quarter. After it was all said and done, Jay Cutler and Co. totaled nearly 500 yards, which included a season-high 235 rushing yards.

Coming into Sunday, the Bears were a perfect 10-0 when Matt Forte ran for 120 yards, he had 122 as well as 49 receiving yards. The rushing total marked the first time since a 1984 loss to the Cowboys that the Bears ran for over 283 yards and failed to win.

Bennett, who finished the afternoon with a team-high nine catches for 134 yards summed up the tough loss with his intellectual view.

“500 yards of offense and 17 points don’t go together. It’s like having dessert before dinner,” Bennett said in a press conference on Monday. “Which I like to do, because it reminds me that I control my life not my parents.”

The 100 plus receiving-yard day for Bennett helped him join elite company. He became the first Bears’ tight end since Mike Ditka in 1961 to reel in over 100 receiving yards in one game. Bennett currently leads the team with 29 receptions for 295 yards.

Cutler tossed two touchdown passes compared to no interceptions in the first half and the Bears trailed by only four at the half. But the complete game on offense derailed quickly and the defensive woes came into play once again.

The Packers possessed the ball for only 23 minutes of the game, running 47 plays. But Green Bay gained 358 yards and 21 first-downs, passing for 16 of them. Aaron Rodgers was on a tear as he finished with only six incompletions on 28 attempts for 302 yards and four passing touchdowns.

 “We didn’t win the 1-on-1’s inside. (Rodgers) just had too much time,” Bears head coach Marc Trestman said during Monday’s press conference. “We have to be the kind of team that puts the past behind us in a hurry. That’s what you have to do in this league.”

Rodgers had his way with the Bears’ defense, who didn’t have an answer for him at any point of the game. When they made a couple stops forcing field goal attempts penalties were called and that gave the Packers more points. That’s exactly what happened on Jon Bostic’s defensive holding penalty that put the Packers up 38-17 to open the fourth quarter.

With zero punts by either team on Sunday, it marked the second time in NFL history that took place, the first since 1992. The Bears have now won both their road games and dropped both their home outings, which is the first time in their franchise’s history.

You can place a good portion of the blame on Cutler’s shoulders for his two third quarter interceptions. But even if he didn’t throw them, the Bears were still far off in that game.

It’s still strange to me that Josh Morgan earned 14 more snaps (44-30) than Santonio Holmes. Morgan is slow on his breaks, the Bears would be better off with the crafty Holmes out there in crucial situations.

The Bears’ defense couldn’t generate any pressure against a soft Packers front, while the cornerbacks were getting beat at will. Rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson had the lone sack of the game on a play where Rodgers simply ran out of bounds behind the line of scrimmage.

Penalties played way too much into the outcome of the game, especially in key situations. Bears’ linebacker D.J. Williams was flagged for a late hit which was really nothing at all and a couple holding calls on the Packers were pretty suspect as well. Overall, it was an inconsistent day for Terry McAulay’s crew.

“The product is getting bad,” Former longtime Bears center Olin Kreutz said on 87.7 FM’s “Kap and Haugh” show on Monday. “Eventually we have to say this isn’t checkers. It’s football, you’re gonna get hit, it’s a violent game. These guys are the 1 percent of football players in the world. We know what we’re doing, we know what can happen, you have to let these guys hit each other. These receivers, you can’t even touch them anymore.”

Chicago born and current ESPN commentator took to Twitter after the Bostic holding penalty saying this.

Jared Allen update

After missing every practice last week and the game on Sunday, Allen was at Halas Hall on Monday working out. He attended meetings and Trestman says it was a “good sign” and he is currently day-to-day. Allen lost a reported 18 pounds from pneumonia this past week.

Moving Forward

As bad as it may look right now for the Bears, things will get better. They showed tremendous strides on offense and on run defense holding the Packers’ Eddie Lacy to 48 yards on 17 carries. But the pass defense will continue to struggle until the pass rush improves and that is a problem.

Nickelback Isaiah Frey has been a glaring weakness since taking over as the starter two weeks ago. Big off-season signing Lamarr Houston wasn’t even on the box score and Kyle Fuller struggled with Jordy Nelson for most of the day.

The Bears travel to Carolina next week to take on the reeling Panthers, who will be without their top three runners this week (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert). That means undrafted rookie Darrin Reaves and third-year man Fozzy Whittaker will run the show in the Carolina backfield.

This could be where the Bears get back on track. The Panthers’ defense is tough, but the Bears have played their best football on the road this season.

NFC North standings: Lions (3-1), Packers (2-2), Bears (2-2), Vikings (2-2).

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