Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The good over the bad

That's what happened on Monday night--good triumphed over bad. As in, the Bears represent all that is good and right in the world, and they conquered the cheesehead-wearing symbol of evil known as the Green Bay Packers.

But also, the Bears were able to get a win on the strength of some good play despite a number of bad plays and some issues they'll need to resolve if they'd like to keep the good times rolling.

Good: The Bears continue to have the best run defense in the league. By far. They've allowed 39.7 yards/game on the ground, followed not-closely by the Texans who have allowed 54.3. Brandon Jackson, my fantasy football not-savior, had a pathetic 12 yards on 7 carries.

Bad: The Bears can't run either. They had just 14 true rushes (not counting those by Cutler and Knox) for 38 yards, and rank 28th in total rushing yards this season. I know I complained about this last year as well, and maybe I'm just stubborn. I realize teams like the Patriots and Colts aren't too concerned with their run games and they're, you know, consistently awesome teams. But I'm not ready to call Jay Cutler Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, and it seems a little early to give up on the running game entirely.

Good: Jay Cutler continues to do things that Bears quarterbacks haven't done in a long time. He scrambled three times for 37 yards and zoomed some nice passes into tight spots including a touchdown to Greg Olsen.

Bad: Prime-time jitters, perhaps? Cutler threw one interception and tried to throw three more. One was negated by a roughing the passer, one was dropped, and one was wiped out on a pass interference penalty. May I ask what the f**k Cutler was thinking when he launched the ball high into the air off his back foot to a double-covered Earl Bennett with about two minutes remaining? The Bears were already in long field goal range (at the 33), and Cutler threw what was practically a Hail Mary when all they needed was five or ten yards?

Good: Julius Peppers. He didn't even record a sack and yet the announcers suggested that he was having "the game of his life." While that's just Jon Gruden's inner crazy coming out (Peppers once had three sacks and an interception in a game, only the third player ever to do that), Peppers did indeed have a huge impact on the game. I don't know the exact stats, but he must have caused at least two false starts, drawn at least two holding penalties, and pressured Rodgers multiple times. He also blocked a field goal.

Bad: Peppers' success is all the more impressive given that the rest of the line seems to be standing still. The Bears have just two sacks on the season, both against Detroit, and no one but Peppers seems to be getting any pressure.

Good: Devin Hester! The most exciting play in football is the punt return for a touchdown, and finally, for the first time since 2007, we got to jump out of our seats as Hester found a seam and busted through it.

Good: Mike Martz and Rod Marinelli. The offense continues to do things we're not used to seeing here in Chicago, and the defense looks solid.

Bad: Lovie Smith. He's now wasted six points on the season, and explained that he'll continue to go for it at the goal line in the future. Yeah, cuz who would want to tie the game? You show 'em, Lovie!

Good: Urlacher, Briggs and Tim Jennings. Urlacher and Briggs had a team-leading nine tackles each and combined to force the key fumble late in the game. Reserve cornerback Tim Jennings replace a not-injured Zack Bowman and finished with seven tackles and recovered the aforementioned fumble. He also laid a huge hit on one of the Packers receivers.

Bad: Starters getting benched. Tommie Harris was benched before the game, and I just mentioned that Bowman was benched in the first quarter. It's not wrong of Lovie to play whomever he feels will do the best job, but it's not good if a couple of the Bears' key players suddenly can't crack the starting lineup.

Good (Packers): Aaron Rodgers. Man, that guy can sling it. Even when a Bears defender had good coverage, it was like the ball was by him before he could even think to reach for it.

Bad (Packers): Discipline, or lack thereof. Eighteen penalties, the most in franchise history. There were so many flags around Monday night it looked like a U.N. meeting (ba-dum-tssh).

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