We're introducing a new feature this year called Quick Outs. It will be a roundtable style discussion that lets several of our writers chime in the day after each game with their unique thoughts and angles from the game.
You'll notice some common themes as the weeks go along, and as each writer provides their own take. Enjoy!
All in all, this game was about what I expected - the Bears would keep it close for a while (thanks in large part to some bad tackling by the Packers), but give it away on a back-breaking Jay Cutler turnover.
Now about that tackling, and the play of the secondary in general: ouch. Sam Shields? That was one of the poorer performances I've seen from him in a while. Dumb penalty after dumb penalty, plus some missed tackles made him a liability in large stretches of today's game. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix continued to show the tackling issues that plagued him last year - he is usually in the right place and is more than willing to get his nose dirty, but when he consistently can't bring opposing ball-carriers down, it gets frustrating.
Arguably the most frustrating part was watching the defense's inability to get off the field on third down and get the ball back to the offense. Hell, the Bears went 11-for-17 on third downs and another 2-for-3 on fourth down. That needs to change in the next few weeks against the likes of Seattle and Kansas City.
Notice I haven't really talked about the offense much. I don't think I need to say much there other than "hey James Jones, welcome back, we missed you."
Oh, and if the Bears commit to reining in Jay Cutler's tendency to go Rex Grossman on us and say "F it, I'm going deep," they should win more than the six games I predicted for them last week.
Last thought: I'll take a win over the Bears at Soldier Field any way we can get it, especially if it involves no new injuries on that abysmal turf (I exclude Sam Barrington's ankle, because it had nagged him all week).
For a team that has struggled to start fast, the Packers offense played more or less up to expectations. Aaron Rodgers looks fully recovered from the torn calf that limited him down the stretch of 2014, Eddie Lacy remains a load to bring down and James Jones continues to humiliate defenders...?
Well, after spending last season in Oakland, Jones made his triumphant return to the Packers, catching two touchdowns (and nearly two others). While Davante Adams and Randall Cobb each had big catches of their own, it was Jones' day. Once again, it appears Ted Thompson made the right call at wide receiver.
The defense didn't perform nearly as well, but that's to be expected. Letroy Guion and Datone Jones spent the afternoon at home due to their suspensions, and starting safety Morgan Burnett watched from the sidelines with an injury. While Dom Capers' unit may never rise above the middle of the pack, it definitely can and should improve in the coming weeks and months.
A lot of people are going to clown the Giants and Raiders today for cutting James Jones, a guy who was as much a part of the Packers two weeks ago as the Dippin' Dots vendor, but I'm not sure they should. I'm pretty certain that Jones did many of the same things for the Raiders and Giants as he did for the Packers yesterday. And that's because Jones largely is the same player today as he's always been. Sure he's lost a half step but Jones' game has never been about his sheer athleticism. Instead, he's been a guy who runs reliable routes, uses his body (which is stronger than people realize) really well, and, now in his later years, uses a bit of veteran craftiness to get just enough separation.
But when the guys throwing you the ball are a rookie one year and whatever DirecTV's Mr. Hyde version of Eli Manning who shows up every other game the next year, just enough separation isn't quite enough.
With Aaron Rodgers, it's more than enough. And there he was yesterday, dropping smart bombs into his old pal's lap and rewarding those little hitches and slants that James Jones runs so well with laser-like precision, while at the same time sending thousands of fantasy players scurrying to their computers to put a claim in on JJ. That's the Aaron Rodgers difference.
After Jordy Nelson went down, former Packers tight end turned Twitter poster Jermichael Finley tweeted out some junk about seeing how good Aaron Rodgers really is now that he's lost his main target. Finley backtracked afterwards (which I don't buy) but maybe Finley was right. Maybe we will see just how good Rodgers is. And amazingly, maybe he'll be even better.
The Packers/Bears rivalry is such that you can usually throw out the records. No matter how good or bad one team or the other is, the games are always physical and more often tight than not. The blowouts the Bears suffered at the hands of the Packers last season are the exception, not the rule.
It became clear early that this was not the 2014 Bears team the Packers were opening the 2015 season against. Matt Forte was used early and often and ran for over 120 yards in the first have against a Packers defense that was swiss cheese. Jay Cutler meanwhile minimized his turnovers by not taking shots down the field. John Fox and Adam Gase basically turned him into Kyle Orton for most of the game.
That's the kicker -- "most of the game."
With the Bears down 24-16, Cutler had the Bears driving for the potential tying score until he threw a pass he immediately wanted back (Cutler admitted as much after the game). Clay Matthews, playing from the inside linebacker position, snatched the ball in mid-air and nearly ran the ball back for a pick-six. The Packers would later punch it in and that would prove to be the dagger in the Bears.
All in all, the Bears are not as bad as advertised if one game is any indication. The Green Bay run defense however was atrocious in the first half. They tightened up in the second half but with another game against Forte later in the season plus two against Adrian Peterson, Dom Capers needs to improve his run defense and fast.
Otherwise the defense will yet again prove to be the Packers' Achilles heel.
The Bears showed that they are no longer run by nincompoops, but the Packers showed that they simply outclass their division rivals in terms of roster construction. The Bears have a long way to go to catch up, and James Jones made it harder for me to argue that veteran presence doesn't matter. Though mostly, I just think that Aaron Rodgers can make any receiver about 60% better than he really is. It wasn't the blowout I envisioned, but it was dominant enough, and everyone should be appropriately optimistic about the potential of this team.
I think the defensive issues will fade into the background as the offense gets into high gear and gives them bigger leads. The pass rush was solid and the secondary minus Morgan Burnett could have been a lot worse. Capers' mantra seems to be "Who cares if Forte has 100 yards?" and most of the time he's right.
Also, LOL Seattle.
As I briefly touched on leading up to this game, it appears John Fox appears to be a good choice to help turn this Chicago team around. While they couldn't keep up with Aaron Rodgers and company the whole game (as expected), the Bears appear to be far better off than in years past.
Green Bay did plenty to help them, however. While they did not turn the ball over, there were numerous penalties that resulted in a point swing in Chicago's favor. They will not be able to get away with that against stronger opponents.
The run defense has a long ways to go and a short time to figure it out with matchups against Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles in the next two weeks. Missed tackles were again a dark spot on a unit that kept bending and bending, but never quite breaking. This could turn into a bigger issue moving forward if the defense is not able to get off the field.
Other than that, the offense is running smoothly and looks to be able to overcome any defensive shortcomings. I'll take a road win against a division rival any day, regardless how it happens. Bring on Seattle!
Well, I guess I should have bought that James Jones jersey that was on clearance for 80% off just two years ago. While I am not surprised that the Packers offense was clicking in every aspect, I was surprised that it made me forget all about Jordy Nelson for a little bit. James Jones looks like he, once again, will be a vital part of the offense this season.
Randall Cobb played just as I had expected, not his usual self but still very productive. Hopefully he continues to make progress this week, as we need him against Seattle next weekend. Eddie Lacy is just so fun to watch too. He seemed to be tackling the tacklers and it seemed to take the entire defense, coaching staff, and a some of the crowd at Soldier Field to get him down.
The defense did concern me though. Missed tackles, missed containment, and missed assignments let the Bears to run all over the field. Give credit to Chicago though, they don't feel like the lowly Bears of recent, and might put together a few wins here and there this season. Jay Cutler impressed me as well, spreading the ball all over the field and not making errant decisions when pressured. The Packers cannot allow that against Russell Wilson, though.