In a league where things constantly change by the minute, the Green Bay Packers are one of the most stable and consistent organizations in the NFL, and they proved why in Chicago yesterday.
It’s just amazing how much Aaron Rodgers can cover up for. The Packers won on the backs of their star players who you know will bring it every week like Rodgers, Eddie Lacy and Clay Matthews.
It seems like we have seen yesterday’s script a million times over the last few seasons. The Packers have a bunch of mental mistakes and the defense looks like it can’t stop anybody — yet Rodgers and Lacy are so good and Matthews makes one or two huge plays — so none of it matters. That is until they play a team with a defense like Seattle or Buffalo.
You would hope that missing Letroy Guion, Sam Barrington and Morgan Burnett played a big part in the performance of the run defense because if not there is a pretty big issue. To be fair, all three are key players in the run defense.
As I wrote earlier last week, stopping Matt Forte was all the Packers needed to worry about. Yet, they still could not stop Forte from almost single handily winning the game with 141 yards rushing and Neal six yards per carry. To Dom Capers’ credit, he inserted an extra defender in the box to play the run often, but the execution in the run fits and tackling were dreadful. Sean Richardson was also used a lot in the “big okie” three safety look and he did nothing to distinguish himself again.
The Bears had a very smart game plan of not letting Jay Cutler make throws down the field and sticking with the ground game and short passes. It was certainly a far cry from the Marc Trestman led Bears. However, the Bears are still not a talented offense that the Packers should have performed so poorly against, especially once it was clear what the game plan was for Chicago (it should have been clear from before the opening snap). They will face a lot more talented offenses in the future.
Rodgers performed near flawlessly completing 18-of-23 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. He did this with a less than 100 percent Randall Cobb and a receiver who was just signed this week. Of course, it looked like James Jones never left with the acrobatic catches he made, so he deserves all the credit in the world as well. The Packers do not win without him. But, Rodgers will always be the straw the stirs the drink. His calf looked 100 percent healthy as he was fluid in getting outside the pocket and running for huge first downs. Rodgers’ arm looked as accurate and as strong as ever.
Like Rodgers, Matthews is a rock on the other side of the ball, and it’s with players that seem to be collapsing around him. Yet, in the biggest play of the game he is there to intercept Jay Cutler with Chicago driving at the Green Bay 29 looking to tie the score. He looked like he had played inside linebacker his whole life. Does anybody think A.J. Hawk, Brad Jones or Sam Barrington makes that play given the same opportunity? It’s extremely doubtful.
Lacy did what he always does as well with the Bears worried about Rodgers beating them. He had 19 carries for 85 yards and one touchdown, and on first glance of the game it looked like he was getting more yards than his blocking was giving him most of the time. There was also his insane one-handed catch on Rodgers’ shuffle pass that should be illegal for a man his size to be able to catch.
These elite players are what makes Green Bay a perennial playoff team year in and year out. They’re enough to beat less talented teams like the Bears. However, the Packers are going to need everybody to step up if they want to bring the Lombardi Trophy back home and beat the best teams in the league. They can start doing that next week against Seattle and will have to against a desperate and talented team.