Packers XLV

Packers D Stuffs Forte, Bears; Move to 3-0

Posted September 26th, 2011 @ 12:09am

A three-pronged attack carried the Packers over the rival Bears on Sunday. The Bears had no answer for Jermichael Finley, the interior linemen created wide lanes for Ryan Grant to appear reborn and the Packers' run defense was dominant for a third straight week.

13 rushing yards on 12 carries. Ladies and gentlemen, your Chicago Bears running attack! Matt Forte was irrelevant in the running game. Though he finished with 80 receiving yards, he was pretty much held in check all day long. The Packers' run defense made the Bears one-dimensional, and while Jay Cutler ended up with 300 yards, he was just 3-12 on third downs and he threw a pair of picks to safety Morgan Burnett. The Pack sacked him three times, but got none in the first half and did not dominate like it appeared they might.

Back to Finley: this kind of game has been a long time coming. He's a matchup nightmare and Bears had no answers. Seven catches for 85 yards and a career high three touchdowns. He and Greg Jennings (9-119) came up huge, converting a number of key third downs with terrific catches.I'm not crazy about Finley's YMCA-style "YOTTO" celebration (for those who don't follow him on Twitter, it was a phrase he coined last season: Year of the take over). Rodgers was his usual brilliant self, delivering a 111.4 passer rating, with three TDs and one pick (on a brilliant play by Brian Urlacher).

Meanwhile, the biggest difference between this year's team and last year's is the two-headed running attack of Grant and Finley. Until Sunday, Grant played the role of Hutch to Starks' Starsky. On this day, Grant was the man, showing a burst and pop we haven't seen since 2009. 92 yards on 17 carries kept the Bears defense honest all day. Conversely, Starks looked lost, losing a key fumble late that kept the Chicago in the game and finishing with just five yards on eleven carries.

Let's look at the ugly, besides Starks. Too many offensive penalties and the knee injury to Bryan Bulaga are a good place to start. Bulaga left early with what Mike McCarthy called a knee bruise after the game. One Green Bay reporter was told by a couple of players that it wasn't an ACL tear, but until we get the medical update on Monday we'll hold our breath. Marshall Newhouse replaced him at right tackle and seemed to hold up well. We also hope to hear that the other guys nursing minor injuries: Pickett, Williams, Woodson and Matthews came out of the game feeling okay.

And what about that punt return by the Bears, where Hester duped the Packers into thinking the ball was coming his way, while Johnny Knox raced down the sidelines. A holding penalty saved the Pack on that one.

So the Packers sit at 3-0, tied with the Lions, who were the latest to embarrass the Vikings, coming back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win in overtime. The Vikings exposed some weaknesses in the first half (poor play by Lions offensive line and leaky secondary), but in historic fashion, couldn't close the deal.

The Packers finally return to Lambeau next Sunday for what should be the easiest game on the schedule, against the bumbling Broncos, providing a chance to finish the first quarter at 4-0 with a big prime time game in Atlanta to follow.

Check back at theheadcheese.com on Tuesday for the Tuesday morning podcast. I'll use your comments below and emails to go more in depth on the game.

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Comments (24):

Grant's field vision sucks. He is alawys running into his linemans backs. I think this rather than speed or injury is the reason he is a less effective runner. Also a reason why he is not great at catching the ball and making people mis in the open field. He puts his head down and runs in one direction; until somebody touches him and he falls down.

on August 1st, 2012 at 02:09am

Every time I see Starks stumbling like a drunk thgrouh what little holes the line can make for him, I yearn for the days when we had a real feature back and a semblance of a running game.Ryan Grant is still good (you see flashes) but you gotta admit that it is hard to prove that when your line doesn't block for the six times you touch the ball.

on August 1st, 2012 at 02:50am

Grant had a couple of dneect years, and looked explosive once upon a time, but those days are over. He looks just plain slow and too easy to tackle, except for the Bears game when he actually looked dneect. Otherwise, it's been all Starks this year. Still bugs me that Grant watches himself on the big screen after every tackle.

on August 1st, 2012 at 10:55am

Obviously Grant is a little rusty after being out last year and Starks has yoguenr legs, but when Grant gets met in the backfield by defenders every time he carries, I have a problem blaming him for that. Same thing with Brandon Jackson last year. The run blocking was pathetic. Until it got better toward the end of the year when all of sudden Starks gets in and benefits. Jackson looked better too the few times he carried the ball later in the year. I'm not saying Starks sucks and Grant is awesome but I would like to see them both get better plays to run from and the O-line do it's job better. It is hard to judge a player when his sample of work is smaller and smaller each week.

on August 1st, 2012 at 12:59am

Presumably you posit this view based on the fact that NFL defenses will not be foelod, so-to-speak, by such gadget play calling due to their higher-than-college-level skillset and football acumen. However, the talent level of the offensive players and coaches around Cobb will also be greater (one may even go so far as to say substantially so) in Green Bay, so who is to say that they won't be able to utilize the upgraded talent to some positive effect? Obviously it won't work every time, or even the majority of the time, but as mentioned in the quotation above, if employed sparingly and in the proper situations, it could be quite effective. After all, if the Dolphins saw success (albeit diminishing over time) with Ronnie Brown taking Wildcat snaps, does it not bode even better, given Cobb's skillset and the arguably much better talent/coaching in Green Bay, for the Packers?In any event, I recall seeing a link (which I did not follow) to an article which indicated that McCarthy has mentioned that they didn't draft Cobb in order to run Wildcat plays.

on August 3rd, 2012 at 02:00am

Though I agree with the logic that you want the ball in A-Rodge's hands most the time, I think people are sllnieg this idea short. If it is 3rd and 1 or less and you've already decided on a run, then why not let Cobb take the snap? Cobb could also be a dangerous weapon around the goal line, either in the backfield or taking the snap. You can also line up in the Big 5, and then shift Cobb into the backfield and have the run/pass option. Love everything this guy brings to the table. Can't wait to see him in pads. If everyone can stay healthy, our Big 5 may look like this- Jennings/wide left, Nelson/wide right, Finley split out on Jennings side, Driver and Cobb in the slots. Big OUCH for defenses.

on August 3rd, 2012 at 02:28am

True about not wanting to take Rodgers out, but cosdnier 2 point conversions and opening up the possibility for fake punts, cosdniering the fact that he[Cobb] was the holder at KYU.Fake Punts not going to happen. He's not a punter that's probably the only offensive swiss army knife he doesn't have.Fake Field Goals and PATS. That's what he could be used for. He was Kentucky's placekicking holder.I don't think you'd see the Wildcat out of the Packers. If anything I could see a Halfback Pass.. probably to Finley. The last few seasons the Packers killed people with the long pass out of 3rd and 1. They might have to come up with something new if the other teams finally figure out that you should cover Jennings or Nelson when they are streaking down the field on a short yardage play.

on August 3rd, 2012 at 03:57am

I like this article. Every once in a while i come back and read it again, epaiceslly the part about the packers could field the best offense ever this season . That is a true statement. To iltarion, who posted above, the reason why no one is thinking about letting Cobb take the snap rather than Rodgers is because you always want your best player on the field. Aaron Rodgers is the Packers best player. He gives them the best chance to win, why take him out of the game? It makes absolutely no sense, even third and one plays. Lets say the packers did take him out in that situation: all of a sudden the team is playing all run and no pass, we lose the series. Do you see what im getting at?

on August 3rd, 2012 at 04:22am

I don't see McCarthy taking the ball out of Rodgers' hands in a criaictl situation. I just don't. So, all this talk is wonderful, and I'd bet we'll see some of it in preseason to give defenses something to prepare for. We may see it towards the end of a game when the game is already decided again for the same reason.Would it be fun? yes. Would it be exciting? yes. Would you still feel that way if Cobb fumbled in a criaictl situation and lost the game for us? MM doesn't want to find out the hard wya.

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on May 8th, 2012 at 09:41pm

Since I'm sure people will complain... The holding on the Knox return actually happened before Knox caught the ball. It was on #21, between the 35 and 40 yard line (possibly a ticky tack one camera view was distant). The official at the goal line threw the flag immediately and I'm guessing the flag ended up on the 20 because that's all the further he could throw it. Worst case the Bears should have gotten the ball near the 30 (10 yards back from the 40).

on September 25th, 2011 at 08:12pm

It was good to see you today at the Park Tavern for the game with my daughter. What do you think of the game Wynn had today. Is it a sign of things to come, or was he taking advantage of a poor Bears o line? I think he is going to be a force for the Packers this year.

on September 25th, 2011 at 08:21pm

I could not believe the whole kick team didn't know which way that ball had been kicked. It's good that they have something to work on, the special team needs to focus. I thought Grant did a good job of recognizing how the Bear's linebackers were crashing the edge, as most of his runs came inside. Starks couldn't figure this out and showed happy feet. This difference in styles is why we kept both. Green will give a third "look" when he gets on the field. MM would call these "quality" runs. Really this game had all the components of our classic match ups, Urlacker gets a pick, Knoxs gets a big play, and Cutler throws us the ball. Classic Packers beat Bears game!Thank goodness we're not Vikings fans!

on September 25th, 2011 at 09:03pm

Dave, I thought Burnett made some big time plays. What did you think of Peprah's safety play? I thought he was beaten a lot today and got exposed.

on September 25th, 2011 at 09:17pm

The keys on defense in this game was containing Forte and Hester and knowing Cutler will give you some opportunities to make big defensive plays. Our rush defense has been great but we did give up 300 yards more in passing. Our pass defense of our linebackers is being exploited. Mathews is really not a linebacker but is really more of a rushing defensive end lined up just off a traditional line. ...leaving Bishop,Walden, and Hawk in some coverage packages exposing their coverage abilities. But....these are just concerns for future games. It was a good win on the road to an always tough opponent. Rodgers was great....good to see Finley used more along with the always dependable Jennings. And you get the feeling that once Cobb touches the ball a big play can develop. It will be interesting to see how he is used by MM in future games. Newhouse stepped in nicely and Grant came out of his tomb. We have not played our best yet ....but great teams find ways to win. GO PACK GO !!

on September 25th, 2011 at 10:20pm

I was really surprised to see how poorly Starks played. His choices in the whole were atrocious. He got away from running downhill and started dancing. Glad to see James Jones get some balls thrown his way although mid 4th quarter, he dropped what would have been an easy first down ball. That is the reason he isn't getting the time on the field. -- The Urlacher interception in my opinion was a bad decision on Rodgers part. I love that Finley is a beast but that was one of those plays where Rodgers was just forcing it to him rather than his blitz read. Would like to have that one back. Good start. 3-0. Motor city kitties looked beatable today, if not for Viqueen meltdown. GoPack!

on September 26th, 2011 at 06:40am

It was nice to see Finely get his touchdowns. I am concerned about now with Grant being possibly out how our running game will be against the Broncos and Atlanta.

on September 26th, 2011 at 09:18pm

I wonder if So'oto will get into the game this week. Did he play at all against the bears? Don't remember seeing him. Would like to see him push Walden while Zombo is out. GoPack!

on September 27th, 2011 at 02:06pm

I haven't seen an interview or even a quick comment from Starks about his poor performance, in which he looked hesitant, indecisive and generally lost. I have a feeling that he is chomping at the bit to redeem himself. He will come out with a vengeance against the Bronco's in the event that Grant can't go. Also on the bright side, consider that we may get to see more of Alex Green in the offense this week. Can you say "long screen play TD"? I know I can. GoPack!

on September 27th, 2011 at 05:42am

You here all the "We didn't play that well" talk and the "We're not satisfied." That's the Pack getting ready for a team they think they can beat, trying to set a bar higher then the next opponent and hoping it means they won't overlook them.

on September 27th, 2011 at 08:24pm

hey guys and ladies also, it's good to have some ladies on the blog davey. just read that the queens are going to put doleman in ring of honor, funny, it's when the world champs play. it never ends. i have a lot of vike fans as friends over here in western wi. they are even sick of it. it's always trying to be green bay, if it's taking all our cast offs, even #4. look at there ticket packages, it's always by3 tickets with sucky teams and u get to go see the packers too. now, they have to get the team fired up and fans on the 23rd of oct. just to hope they can beat us. it never stops. even when the packers are a so so team they still do it. u have no idea what it is like to live over here. thanks for being the class of the league and world champs, AGAIN. take that P.A. i mean cockadix. go pack

on September 28th, 2011 at 11:42am

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