Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011
Posted: 10:15 p.m.
By Jim Miller
I think it was pretty clear watching the Bears fall to the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers, 27-17, that there is a huge difference between the two offenses.
Green Bay displayed timing, precision and came into the game with a plan to execute. The Bears offense looked like a mixed bag of play calls, as if they were playing in a preseason game.
I don't think anyone should condemn the Bears' gameplan for throwing. They were not going to be able to run on Green Bay. But who were they attacking, isolating or trying to match up against?
With all the dropped balls, it's as if some Bears receivers did not even expect the ball to come their way. Here are a couple of examples of very good Packers game plan:
1. Look at the play-by-play in the game book. Aaron Rodgers lined up in shotgun for six of their first 10 plays and peppered the Bears with short, precise passes. The last play of the opening drive was the quick out to Jermichael Finley for the touchdown. Green Bay came into Soldier Field with a plan to soften up the Bears defense and expand it in order to get their running game going. They stayed in shotgun for two more series, until seeing the Bears adjust.
2. Sticking with the same personnel groupings, Green Bay went to the ground game with Rodgers under center for their "check with me package." The result: another Finley TD.
3. The Packers went back to the top of the script that started the game from the shotgun.
Finley finished the game with eight catches, 85 yards and three TD's. If you can remember Finley's last touchdown, which was a "Nod route" where he faked a quick out then turned up the seam, it was called by Mike McCarthy to specifically attack the Bears "Tampa Two" Defense. The timing of the play call was beautiful because it was set up throughout the game when Finley was repeatedly hit on the quick out.
McCarthy also came into the game knowing he would "flex out" Finley several times outside the other receivers to see how the Bears would match up. The Bears put safety Craig Steltz on him early, but quickly learned their lesson after a couple of big gainers. Everything McCarthy called was with a purpose. I'm not saying the Bears did not do this at all, but they looked limited.
About the only isolation plays I witnessed was the out-and-up interception intended for Roy Williams, a fake wide receiver screen to Johnny Knox an "Empty Set" to get Matt Forte on Green Bay's linebackers.
Two of those three are trick plays and a fudged "Wildcat" play was another. So now, basically three of four plays calls all backfired by lack of execution. This is why they are trick plays, they are not your base offense and are not practiced regularly.
The Bears struggle to execute their base passing attack so why take calculus when you haven't mastered algebra? It's frustrating because the timing and precision is nowhere near where it needs to be for the Bears.
"The Bears struggle to execute their base passing attack so why take calculus when you haven't mastered algebra?-- Jim Miller.
When Rodgers drops back and hits his back step, the ball is out! He knows his receiver is coming out of his break and where the ball is going. Conversely, Jay Cutler was waiting at the top of his drop, pumping the ball, unsure how routes were going to unfold.
To me, this was pretty obvious to see. The best example was the pump fake "out and go" to Williams that was intercepted early in the game. If you watch the play again, one, it was a terrible route by Roy, and two, the pump fake did not even marry up with Roy's route. Jay was late on the throw because he clutched the ball again before he threw it.
It was bad football and not what anyone is looking for at Halas Hall. Lovie Smith will demand execution of the basics, and has to for the offense to get going. They must plan with a purpose, practice with a purpose and play with a purpose.
The Bears aren't getting anything out of their offense right now and are still good enough to win. That is incredible when you think about it.
Jim Miller, an 11-year former NFL quarterback, is a Comcast SportsNet Bears analyst who can be seen each week on U.S. Cellular Bears Postgame Live. Miller, who spent five seasons with the Bears, analyzes current Chicago QB Jay Cutler in his "15 on 6" blog on CSNChicago.com and can be followed on Twitter @15miller.