Monday, September 14, 2009

Lambeau lamentations

The Bears lost a heartbreaker after failing to find the end zone with 1st-and-10 under 5:00 in the 4th quarter. A field goal gave the Bears a shaky 15-13 lead, putting the pressure on their captain-less defense to keep the Packers out of field goal range. They did, but at the expense of a 50-yard TD toss to Greg Jennings on 3rd-and-1. Still, with over a minute to go, the Bears had time for a scoring drive, I thought. I reasoned this was preferable to Mason Crosby lining up a 20-yard field goal chip with 0:04 on the clock, ending the game without a rebuttal from Jay Cutler. So the Bears got the ball back. And Cutler threw his fourth pick of the game.

Some thoughts:

Earl Bennett and Cutler are friends. Bennett, with seven receptions, is clearly Cutler's favorite target, even when he has three or four guys around him. Why is this? Hester, with four catches and a TD, may have had one of the best games I've seen from him at receiver. (Granted, it's often hard to watch a receiver's routes when the camera doesn't point to him, so I don't know how open Hester was throughout the game. I do know, however, there were certainly times when Bennett was not.) Media-proclaimed preseason favorite target Greg Olsen finished with one catch. Desmond Clark had one also, plus a should-have-caught-it in the end zone. Last year's leading receiver, Matt Forte, had zero catches.

Forte can't hit holes that aren't there. Openings at the line of scrimmage were rare. Forte managed only 55 yards on 25 carries, which were more touches than it looked like live. It's hard to say how much of this was the offensive line's ineptitude. You have to give credit to the Packers' front seven or eight. The 3-4 and blitz packages really messed with the Kreutz's line (and Culter's mind). It seemed Forte was met in the backfield on more than half his carries. This doesn't bode well if you want him to gain positive yards. Forte's inability to pound home a potential touchdown late in the fourth was the nail in the coffin before the other nail in the coffin.

Injuries hurt the team. No Charles Tillman and no Zachary Bowman means one-time Pro Bowler (and Cory Bradford Regressive Syndrome candidate) Nathan Vasher lines up across from Greg Jennings on a crucial 3rd-and-1 late in the fourth quarter. Isolation is not Vasher's forte. Jennings would have been two strides ahead even if Vasher didn't trip on the sod.

Brian Urlacher is important after all. I spent the offseason saying some pretty unkind things about Urlacher (in speech, not hypertext), but his presence is admittedly crucial and the prospect of him missing the rest of the year is terrifying. His absence in the 2nd half was apparent. Ryan Grant found much more room to run up the middle. I hear Lovie wants Derrick Brooks to join the team. Maybe Brooks still has Trent Dilfer's number in his phone.

Long snappers shouldn't be talked about so much. Patrick Mannelly's quick-snap audible was one of the most bizarre plays I've seen this season. I have to assume, like Collinsworth concluded, Mannelly went rogue when he thought he saw rookie Clay Matthews still on the field. My question: does it take any less time to snap the ball to Garrett Wolfe than it does to snap it back to Brad Maynard? The play starts at the snap, not the catch, right? So if you really think you see what you see, why not just snap with the original play in mind and get a punt off instead of making Wolfe try to break is single-carry rushing record on 4th-and-11 if your wrong? Maybe Maynard was paying less attention than Wolfe was.

Welcome back Wally. It's great to see Adewale Ogunleye pressuring the quarterback again. He sacked Aaron Rodgers twice in the first half. Maybe Rod Marinelli is on to something. Or maybe we should make this the last year of the contracts for Alex Brown and Mark Anderson, too.

When did we hire Gary Crowton back? We must have run the wideout screen (and non-screen) at least eight times. The thing is, when Cutler threw it on the number, rather than above the receiver's head, we got some yardage out of it.


  1. Right now, Chris Hill is really mad that you called it the "Cory Bradford" Regressive Syndrome.

    He's like "I scored 44 points against Syracuse my freshman year, and then never played a single decent game after that year, and got worse and worse every year, and this fool Klein calls it the Cory Bradford Regressive Syndrome. Please."


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