- The Bears are a tough out. I lived in Chicago for five years and I had a chance to observe the circus first hand. Bears fans are pretty angry about the result, which isn't surprising to me because in my experience they tend to be a pretty emotional bunch. Truth be told, if you look at overall talent, the Bears should not have been anywhere near the NFC Championship game. But they were there and hosted the game, mostly because they are an incredibly smart, resourceful team. I heard it said more than a few times this season that the Bears were a lucky team. While that might be true, but as Branch Rickey said, luck is the residue of design. Good fortune only matters if you are able to recognize it and capitalize. The Bears did this all season and in the final game, when their quarterback was knocked out of the game and they were in danger of getting blown off their home field, they made it a game. I have nothing but admiration for Lovie Smith and the rest of his staff.
- As for Jay Cutler, the long knives came out quickly from certain quarters, questioning his toughness. I don't get it. He's somewhat erratic, but he's the most talented quarterback the Bears have had in my lifetime. If the Bears stay with him, he'll be a problem for my Packers for a long time.
- Speaking of resourceful. . . the Packers wear the NFC crown and I'm pretty amazed. The guys they lost along the way were slated to be huge contributors to the team. They picked up guys off the street and had to play them, in some cases a lot. Ted Thompson has been reviled a fair amount in Green Bay but I'm not sure that anyone else could have found the right guys to keep things going the way he did.
- And then there's the defense. Dom Capers is a genius. He has some highly talented players on his team, especially Clay Matthews, B. J. Raji and the entire secondary. The guys who were playing in other positions yesterday were a pretty ragtag bunch, but they played beautifully. I saw a lot of Rob Francois, a linebacker who wears #49, on the field yesterday. Francois was probably the fifth- or sixth-string linebacker and a guy who would never see the field under ordinary circumstances. But there he was, on the field in the biggest game of the year. And he held up. If you doubt the importance of coaching, watching what the Packer defense did this season should put a stop to that.
- Aaron Rodgers turned out to be mortal yesterday but in the end it didn't matter. I suspect he'll play much better in the Super Bowl than he did against the Bears. He made one very bad decision on the ball that Brian Urlacher intercepted, but the other one was a play that Donald Driver should have made. The reason the Packers are in the Super Bowl is that they can overcome a substandard game from their quarterback. That's what it takes.
Monday, January 24, 2011
A Fan's Notes III: Gratifying Result
And so my beloved Packers go to the Super Bowl after a hard-fought 21-14 victory over the Bears, our ancient rival. A few thoughts: