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Data Responds: Bears vs. Packers

| November 12th, 2017

Chicago came out of the bye flat, acting like nobody actually wanted to play a football game against their biggest rival. Their terrible kicker was good, but nobody else really was. The only thing that kept this game somewhat close was the fact that Green Bay is terrible, but they still won fairly comfortably on the road.

Let’s break down this embarrassing effort.

Offense

  • The first drive was simply awful. After two weeks to prepare, they ran into a loaded box on 1st down and lost a yard. After a nice pass picked up a first down, they again ran into a stacked box and lost a yard. The next play was both an illegal formation and a hold, setting Chicago up in 2nd and 21. At that point, the drive was over thanks to a combination of poor play calling and dumb penalties.
  • Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky actually had a pretty good start to the game. He made good throws and got the ball to players in space. That changed as the game wore on and Green Bay dialed up the pressure. Trubisky got happy feet and starting pulling his eyes down from scanning the field too quickly. He also refused to throw the ball away, making him completely inept under any sort of pressure.
  • Green Bay’s five sacks weren’t all on the offensive line, but they were bad today too. Hroniss Grasu, making a start at center and shifting Cody Whitehair to right guard with Kyle Long out, was routinely pushed back into the backfield. The unit also picked up way too many penalties, with a nice mixture of pre-snap, during the play, and after the play mixed in.

  • Credit to Trubisky for better play in the fourth quarter. He finally started playing football again instead of suffering from paralysis by overanalysis, which is what happened for most of the 2nd and 3rd quarters. His overall performance had a lot of ups and downs, but his overall stat line looks pretty good (21/25, 297 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 97.0 passer rating). The last few weeks I thought his stats were worse than his overall performance. This week I think the opposite.
  • Trubisky also struggled with his accuracy again this week, overthrowing a few open wide receivers.
  • I don’t have exact snap counts, but Josh Bellamy-who is the 5th best WR on the roster-sure seemed to play a whole lot on offense. Meanwhile, Tre McBride, fresh off of 90+ yards before the bye, didn’t see the field until the 2nd half. And Markus Wheaton-the highest paid receiver on the roster-did not play after practicing all week. It’s nice to see that, even with Tanner Gentry gone, the coaches continue to find ways to not play their best wide receivers.
  • Newly added WR Dontrelle Inman had a solid game today, as did Kendall Wright. It was nice to see Trubisky having open targets to throw to for a change. They combined for 11 catches for 134 yards on 16 targets. Then of course Inman had a key drop on a last-ditch attempt to tie the game. Bears gonna Bears.
  • Rookie tight end Adam Shaheen also had a nice start to the game, with 2 catches for 39 yards on the first 2 drives. He then didn’t get another target for the rest of the game.

Defense

  • This loss was more on the defense than the offense. You expect the offense to suck, but the defense is supposed to be the unit that wins them games. Instead they failed to make any big plays and gave up too many to an extremely limited Green Bay offense. They had chance after chance to give the offense an opportunity to win the game in the 4th quarter, and failed every single time. The front 7 got dominated all day, and that’s why they lost the game.
  • The biggest thing that seemed to be missing was the edge the defense played with for the month before the bye. They didn’t play with aggression, which was most obvious in the lack of a pass rush or anything close to a forced fumble.
  • The defense couldn’t have asked for a better starting situation. Green Bay had the ball at their own 7 yard line, with a bad QB making his 3rd career start. 70 yards later, Green Bay kicked a field goal to take an early lead, which almost always leads to a loss for the Bears.
  • Chicago’s standard 4 man rush was unable to pressure Brett Hundley, so Vic Fangio started blitzing, and it worked. Hundley (like Trubisky) was completely inept under pressure, so credit to Fangio for making that adjustment.
  • Of course, he later went away from that in the fourth quarter after Chicago’s offense scored to make it a game, and Green Bay responded by marching down the field (with absolutely no pressure on Hundley) and scoring a game-clinching touchdown. That’s a classic example of coaching not to lose, which usually ends up in losing. Stay aggressive and go win the game.
  • The defense was given another chance to make this a game after the offense picked up a field goal late to get within a quarter, and couldn’t do it. Kyle Fuller-who had his worst game of the season by a mile-got burned deep on 3rd and long after a blitz didn’t even pressure Hundley. What an incredibly poor effort all around by the defense.
  • It was an incredibly disappointing day from Chicago’s conventional pass rush, which should have dominated against an incredibly banged-up Green Bay offensive line and an inexperienced QB. The sloppy field might have played a role there, but it didn’t exactly seem to help Chicago’s offensive line.
  • Green Bay was on the road, with a banged-up offensive line, backup quarterback, and down to their 3rd string running back by the start of the second half. And their offense still won the battle against Chicago’s defense. It starts with the run game, as Green Bay overcame a backup OL and backup RBs to dominate Chicago on the ground to the tune of 161 rushing yards at 4.5 yards per carry.

Coaching

  • The Bears picked up 7 penalties in the 1st half, plus 3 more that were denied by Green Bay. By my count, 6 of those came before or after the play, which is a sign of a sloppy, undisciplined, and unprepared team. Coming off of a bye week and playing at home, that’s inexcusable, and is 100% on poor coaching. They even picked up a delay of game on an extra point after a touchdown. How does that happen?
  • This is more on whoever is in charge of telling John Fox whether to challenge or not, but the challenge in the first half was inexcusably stupid. Chicago went from 1st and goal at the 3 yard line to Green Bay having the ball after the Bears challenged.
  • Speaking of the refs, they were awful in this game. They called a highly questionable pass interference call on Chicago, and let Green Bay get away with more than that on multiple occasions. Clay Matthews dove on Mitch Trubisky and hit his head after the play was over with no call, they ignored a blatant Jordy Nelson hold on Ty Montgomery’s long touchdown run, and the called fumble on Benny Cunningham off of the replay was far from indisputable. It’s on a team to put themselves in a position where officiating mistakes don’t cost them the game, so don’t pin this loss on the refs, but they quite simply need to be better.
  • Watching how Green Bay ran their offense was a lesson in how a good coach makes things easy on an inexperienced quarterback. The Packers kept Chicago’s defense spread out, which opened things up in the running game and kept them ahead of the chains. They also set Hundley up with a number of short, easy passes to get him into a rhythm and build his confidence. These are all textbook things to do with a young quarterback, but somehow Chicago has not consistently done any of them this year.
  • With that said, there was some progress in the offensive play calling this week. There were more runs out of shotgun, which needs to be a regular thing going forward. There were some nice pass plays called on 1st down, which caught the defense off guard and resulted in a big gain to Adam Shaheen, a long touchdown to Josh Bellamy, and what should have been a big gain except Trubisky inexplicably didn’t throw it to an uncovered wide receiver and took the sack instead.
  • The bottom line is that the entire team came out flat. They looked unprepared and disinterested, which is inexcusable off of a bye week. That’s on John Fox.

Special Teams

  • We’ll end on a happy note. Kicker Connor Barth, who has been awful this year, was 3/3 on field goals today, with all three kicks coming from outside 40 yards. He was the best Bears’ player on an otherwise miserable day.

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