Monday, December 30, 2013

Packers 33, Bears 28

Football remains more interesting than politics. Especially yesterday. A few thoughts on an unlikely result at Soldier Field:

  • For all of Aaron Rodgers's outstanding qualities, he's not been a guy who has lead his team to a lot of comeback victories. In fact, it usually hasn't happened, although in past years it hasn't mattered since the Packers have usually been playing with the lead in most of their games. This time he got it done, but you'd still strongly prefer that the Packers get the lead early and then hold serve, which is the only formula that might give them a chance in the tournament.
  • Benster and I have given Jay Cutler a lot of grief in this feature, but the Bears quarterback was perfectly fine yesterday, throwing only one pick at the end on a desperation heave. He threw some nice deep balls and made no glaring mistakes that I could see. The Bears have a decision to make concerning Cutler's future, but I don't see how they can do anything other than give Cutler a new contract. Josh McCown did a nice job as a backup for the Bears this year, but he's not a long-term solution and if the Bears blow things up and start over, they'll be in the wilderness for a while.
  • Matt Forte is a stud. He is rising quickly on my list of most-admired Packer opponents, all-time division. 
  • As much as the Packers missed Rodgers for most of the season, yesterday also provided a reminder of how valuable Randall Cobb is to the team. Teams can cover Jordy Nelson and James Jones, but they can't cover Jones, Nelson and Cobb when they're all on the field. I suspect that if Cobb had been available all season, Matt Flynn's job would have been significantly easier.
  • On paper, it's difficult to see how the Packers will beat the 49ers next week. The early weather forecast for Green Bay suggests a typical early January day, with a high of about 18 or so. That's cold, but it shouldn't affect either team that much. Colin Kaepernick seems to have regressed this season, but I'm not sure the Packers have enough bullets on defense to handle him. Still, once you're in the tournament, you have a chance.
  • One last thought on the Bears: if they decide to ash can defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as a scapegoat, they might want to call Leslie Frazier, who likely will be looking for work later today. That's a topic that deserves further discussion, but it's another post.


R.A. Crankbait said...

I think it would be interesting to look at how many teams deploy the "Cover 2" defense - Leslie's bread-and-butter - and what their cumulative records are. My sense is that that D does not pose any problems to above average quarterbacks, especiallly as receivers are getting bigger. The Vikings have had a series of D-coordinators utilizing the C2 since Dungy - and have consistently been in the bottom half of the league in pass defense year after year. Monte Kiffin's C2 was a failure in Dallas this year as well.

Of course, you need "personnel" to make any scheme work, but does the offensive talent pool out-number the defensive by that wide a margin? The C2 is the NFL's version of Quantitative Easing; an ineffective doctrine that exacerbates "inflation" yet folks keep thinking they can tinker with it until it works.

Gino said...

lovie ran the cover two for his entire tenure in chicago, and it was always near the better list of defenses.

the 'bend dont break' concept is historically legit, and coupled with a decent offense will get you to the post season... but today's higher powered offenses need a different answer if you want to reach the super bowl.

i hope tucker is tossed. this defense was terrible, and it cant all be blamed on injuries when the same mistakes go uncorrected for weeks and weeks.

Mr D: just curious if you know the answer. how many penalties were called in both games of this rivalry this season. i read where the packers were only flagged once in two games. if true, this plays into the thoughts of many that refs tend to favor teams lead by the NFL's golden boy marqee QBs.

i fairly easy delay of game was not called on rodgers during that final scoring drive, keeping the drive alive.

Mr. D said...

Mr D: just curious if you know the answer. how many penalties were called in both games of this rivalry this season. i read where the packers were only flagged once in two games. if true, this plays into the thoughts of many that refs tend to favor teams lead by the NFL's golden boy marqee QBs.

Gino, I'm not sure how many penalties were called in the two games, but I could look it up; I'll do that later tonight. As for the officiating generally, I'd make three observations:

• I don't think the NFL protects marquee quarterbacks as much as there is a big discrepancy between how different officiating crews manage the game. If you watch a game that Jeff Triplette or the insufferable Ed Hochuli does, you'll see that they are throwing flags left and right. Other crews really let 'em play. I was astonished at how many calls didn't get made in some of the games I watched this season. The larger problem isn't that the NFL favors one team over another; it's that the officiating is too arbitrary from game to game and crew to crew.
• As far as the delay of game goes, it was close and it could have been called. I don't know that it stops Rodgers if it gets called, though. The Bears had three chances to stop Rodgers on 4th down on the last drive and didn't do it. Is 4th and long tougher to get? Of course. But Rodgers threw the game winner on 4th and 8. He's good.
• And, of course, as I've been reminded repeatedly when I've complained about what happened to the Packers in Seattle last year (and what happened to the Wisconsin Badgers in Arizona this year), one of the keys to winning football games is not putting yourself in a position where a blown call can cost you the game. People in Minnesota still complain (rightly, in my view) about how Drew Pearson pushed off to score the winning touchdown in the 1975 playoffs, but they never change the results.

Gino said...

i hear ya, and i beleive the officiating crew should be taken into consideration while game planning, just like dome noise and turf conditions. unfair to some teams? yes, but part of the game.

what really lost the game for the Bears was horrid D that didnt play to the whistle when it mattered most. i still think it was a bad call, but it wouldnt have mattered much if they played to the whistle.

speaking of crowd noise: the seashawks stadium (though not really a true dome) was intentionally designed to magnify crowd noise to gain advantage over visiting teams. the NFL accepts that.
wonder how long before somebody designs a stadium that causes the lights to flicker when the opposing team has the ball, and will the NFL throw the flag on that?

Gino said...

i found an answer, cant verify its accuracy though.
week 9: bears 4 penalties, packers 0.
week 17: bears 5 penalties, packers 1.

Brad said...

Can't wait to see this week's playoff prediction segment. Benster gets yet another opportunity to bag on Kaepernick.

Mr. D said...


I think those numbers are accurate.


He's already warming up on that subject.

Gino said...

given the penalty count: very likely that Green Bay is playin with a home field advantage 16 games out of 16... as rumor has it...

hey, its the NFL $$$$, its part of the field conditions... like i said.

like that TD that Jeffery made, but did not....
to beat a marquis team, you have to beat them HARD, or you will not be allowed to... a lot like boxing.