“Good luck,” Jay Cutler said earlier this week, when referring to the ability of Green Bay’s defense to cover Chicago’s wide receivers.
His buddy, wide receiver Brandon Marshall, also was heard chirping like a bird this week.
When the final whistle blew, you felt good for Cutler, yet his Bears had just lost to the NFC North rival Green Bay Packers, 23-10. It was nice to know that this night, like many others before, would come to an end and he could forget about this cold night in Lambeau Field.
Cutler was awful. With very limited pass protection from his underachieving offensive line, he was hurried and harassed all night long. He was sacked seven times by a relentless Green Bay defense that flustered and confused Chicago’s linemen.
Even between possessions, when Cutler was on the sideline, there was a general concern about his safety. Numbers don’t always tell a great story, but his were revealing: 11 of 27 for 126 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
Some will go home and forget this evening, but this game will go down in the storied Nation Football League lore. The heated rivalry between Chicago and Green Bay is one for the ages. It began on a cold November day in 1921, one that ended with a 20-0 Chicago victory.
After tonight it may feel a little colder and some may feel unsure about Cutler as Chicago’s franchise quarterback. There’s many things that the Bears and Packers need to learn over the course of this season, here’s Five Things We Learned from Bears/Packers:
1.) Brian Urlacher does not age. He is 34 and this is his 13th year in the NFL and he is still a dominant linebacker when he is on the field. He finished the game with eight tackles, five being solo, and was a key reason why Cedric Benson didn’t run all over the Bears’ D. The defense only gave up one offensive touchdown, even in the bad predicaments their offense forced them into. As long as Urlacher stays healthy, Chicago’s defense should be just fine this year.
2.) Speaking of the Chicago’s defense, Tim Jennings is starting to look like the player they envisioned, when they signed him as a free agent in the 2010 off-season. Showing flashes of promise the first two years, he had a strong game with 5 tackles, 4 solo, one interception and two pass deflections.
In the first two games this season, Jennings already has three interceptions and six pass deflections. If Jennings can post consistent play opposite Chicago’s other cornerback, Charles Tillman, the Bears should continue to be successful on this side of the ball.
3.) Green Bay’s quarterback Aaron Rodgers is still going to have a fantastic year. Sunday, against the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay looked out of sync trying to establish their running game. What a difference a little time makes.
The Green Bay offensive line was able to make holes for Cedric Benson all night, and this bought plenty of time for Rodgers and opened up his play action possibilities. Rodgers has set such a level of excellence that some may critique his performance, 22 of 32 for 219 yards with one touchdown and one interception, but he played well and led his team to victory.
4.) Cedric Benson is everything Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson envisioned when they signed him as a free agent.
After starting off slow in Week One against the 49ers, Benson turned it on this week. It was clear that he was more comfortable running behind the Green Bay offensive line on this night and it showed.
He had 20 carries for 81 yards, caught four passes for 35 yards and never coughed up the ball. Green Bay will be dangerous in December and January when they can pound out these kind of games.
5.) Cutler has a PFA out of Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews and corner back Tramon Williams. Both made Cutler’s night equally difficult, just on different ends of the field. Matthews was in Cutler’s face on almost every drop back, as he tallied 3.5 sacks and one pass deflection. If Cutler was able to evade Matthews, the ball didn’t go very far once it left his hand. Williams made sure of that as he had two interceptions and two pass deflections.
If Green Bay’s defense can play at this level and intensity, and their offense starts to mold with the addition of Benson, it will be more then Cutler who has to be scared.