Bears new offense is silenced
By Brad Biggs, Chicago Tribune
~GREEN BAY — At least the on-field camera for this nationally televised game didn’t capture Jay Cutler shouting vulgarities at his offensive coordinator.
That’s maybe the only way progress can be judged for the Bears, who were looking to make a major jump in class Thursday night against the rival Packers at Lambeau Field. But the frustration had to reach a familiar level.
The NFL hyped the matchup of Cutler vs. his Packers counterpart Aaron Rodgers. But Cutler was dreadful against Green Bay yet again.
With an upgraded offense that was supposed to be ready to match firepower with the Packers the Bears fired only blanks. Matters were made worse in the third quarter when running back Matt Forte was lost to a right ankle injury, but by that time the Packers were well on their way to a 23-10 victory.
In the league’s oldest rivalry, the Packers (1-1) continued their recent domination in the series, winning for the seventh time in the last eight meetings and for the fifth consecutive time on home turf. Surely, it will only add to questions for Cutler, who didn’t take kindly to inquiries during the week about his struggles against the Packers.
The quarterback showed disgust with teammates during the game, but it wasn’t like the NBC game last season in which a camera and microphone caught him sending a profane message to former coordinator Mike Martz.
The Bears (1-1) were coming off a 20-point shellacking of the Colts but were put up against a much greater test against the defending NFC North champions. It was an opportunity for the Bears to show off their upgraded offense and see just how far they have come in the effort to close the talent gap in the division. Team President Ted Phillips cited the Packers and Lions 81/2 months ago when he changed the complexion of the franchise and paired general manager Phil Emery with Lovie Smith — for at least one season.
One evaluation is simple. Cutler is not in a class with Rodgers. He was intercepted four times and completed only 11 of 27 passes for 126 yards. A 21-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis with 6:49 to play was set up by a Tim Jennings interception. Cutler was sacked seven times and his passer rating was an anemic 28.2.
Rodgers completed 22 of 32 passes for 219 yards and threw a 26-yard touchdown to Donald Driver in the fourth quarter to put it out of reach.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall went from passing game savior to invisible. Wide open in the end zone in the third quarter, a pass went off his hands. Largely with the help of dump-off passes from Cutler to Forte the Bears drove deep into Packers territory before the drop forced them to settle for a 45-yard Robbie Gould field goal.
Marshall didn’t make his first grab until the fourth quarter and Alshon Jeffery was a nonfactor. The Packers punctuated previous meetings by dominating the Bears wide receivers and it happened again after Cutler said “good luck” on Tuesday to Packers cornerbacks wanting to play press coverage.
Cutler wasn’t the only quarterback victimized by his receivers. If Rodgers’ targets had not let him down the score would have been more lopsided.
As impressive as the Bears were in their opener, the Packers were overrun 30-22 by the 49ers in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the score would indicate. San Francisco lined up and whipped Green Bay at the point of attack. But the Bears couldn’t move the chains effectively in the first half and establish a running game.
The Packers led 13-0 at halftime thanks in large part to a perfectly executed fake field goal. Lining up for a 45-yarder by Mason Crosby, holder Tom Masthay flipped the ball to tight end Tom Crabtree and he went through a wide hole on the right side and had a clear path to the end zone as two linemen wiped out safety Chris Conte. It was a big gamble because the Packers faced fourth-and-26. But Crabtree rumbled 27 yards to the end zone in a rare breakdown by Bears special teams.
Crosby hit a 48-yard field goal early in the second quarter and then connected on a 35-yarder on the final play of the first half as the Packers converted Tramon Williams’ interception of Cutler at midfield for points.
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