The Bears’ pregame plan was to beat the Green Bay Packers and enjoy a long weekend.
The Bears’ postgame reality was to get drubbed by the Packers and endure a long weekend.
Little seemed to go right for the Bears’ offense in a 23-10 loss Thursday at Lambeau Field, and a review of the game proved to be every bit as ugly as the live rendition. A sideline camera caught Jay Cutler angrily screaming at left tackle J’Marcus Webb and delivering a hard shoulder into his pads, while field cameras caught Cutler’s ugly four-pack of interceptions.
For the next two days, the Bears can try to erase the Week 2 debacle from their memories.
But when they return to Halas Hall on Monday, an uncomfortable film session will await.
Much has been made about Cutler’s bristliness during and after the Bears’ prime-time dud, but his most troubling behavior came on the field rather than on the sidelines or in an interview room. Cutler reverted to bad habits under pressure, and he missed a wide-open Brandon Marshall when trying to force a pass over the middle to Kellen Davis in the third quarter. On another play when Marshall was open deep, Cutler badly underthrew the pass for an interception.
Running backs: C
Matt Forte (24 snaps) looked poised for a busy second half as he touched the ball five times on the Bears’ first six plays after halftime, but his night ended abruptly when Charles Woodson rolled up on his ankle with 12:15 left in the third quarter. Backup Michael Bush (32 snaps) rushed for only one first down after Forte’s exit, while third-stringer Armando Allen (seven snaps) was stuffed for a 3-yard loss on his only carry.
Wide receivers: D
After a monster performance in Week 1, Marshall (63) was a nonfactor for almost the entire game in Week 2. He dropped what should have been a touchdown during the Bears’ first series of the second half when a score could have changed the game. Earl Bennett (43) failed to step forward to break up an interception, instead watching as Charles Woodson muscled in front of him for a pick. Alshon Jeffery (40) caught one pass for 7 yards, while Devin Hester (20) was targeted only once for an incomplete pass.
Tight ends: D
Kellen Davis (63) caught a 21-yard touchdown pass with the score out of reach in the fourth quarter, but that did not change the fact that he had another subpar game. Davis was targeted six times but caught only one pass, and he committed a false start on third down in the third quarter. Matt Spaeth (11) barely saw the field, while hybrid fullback Evan Rodriguez (12) delivered several good blocks in front of Bush in the I-formation.
Offensive line: F
Where to begin? J’Marcus Webb (63) was not nearly quick enough to defend Clay Matthews, who also beat Chris Spencer (63) as he dumped Cutler for 3 ˝ sacks. Gabe Carimi (63) committed two penalties for 25 yards, including a foolish unnecessary roughness penalty after he was baited by Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk in the first quarter. What is Chris Williams’ purpose on the roster? He played only two special-teams snaps.
Defensive line: A
The Bears showcased their strength and versatility at the line by shifting Julius Peppers (50), Shea McClellin (31) and Israel Idonije (30) from defensive end to defensive tackle and back again. Corey Wootton (33) also earned significant playing time in pass-rush situations. The movement helped to create mismatches as the line registered five sacks (Peppers 2, McClellin 1˝, Henry Melton 1, Corey Wootton ˝).
Although Brian Urlacher (69) played every snap on defense, he looked slow and stiff as the Packers routinely attacked the middle of the field. Wearing a bulky brace on his left knee, Urlacher’s diminished agility was exposed badly on a pass to Cedric Benson across the middle at the end of the first quarter. Lance Briggs (68) played well overall but dropped a potential interception in the second quarter, while Nick Roach (43) mostly was quiet.
Tim Jennings (68) shined for the second consecutive week. He made a diving play to break up a pass to Jordy Nelson in the first quarter, and he notched his third interception of the season by jumping the route of James Jones in the second half. Charles Tillman (69) showed no signs of shin injury that kept him out of practice this week, and he forced a turnover with a patented strip against Jermichael Finley in the third quarter.
At least for now, the Bears have abandoned a three-man rotation at safety that they relied upon during much of last season. Chris Conte (69) and Major Wright (68) carried the load in the deep secondary, while veteran backup Craig Steltz contributed only on special teams. Wright (six tackles) played well, but Conte whiffed on a tackle against Randall Cobb that led to a 28-yard gain in the second quarter.
Special teams: D
Give credit to Green Bay for a beautifully designed fake field goal that resulted in a 27-yard touchdown from holder Tim Masthay to tight end Tom Crabtree. The Bears typically are the team with innovative special-teams plays, but they were the ones who were caught flat-footed in Week 2. The Bears showed little explosiveness on special teams as Devin Hester was limited to two punt returns for 8 yards.