Rodgers, Packers knew Bears' defensive signals in blowout loss


Rodgers, Packers knew Bears' defensive signals in blowout loss

At different points of their 55-14 crushing of the Bears on Sunday night, Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense sure seemed to have the Bears defense figured out, almost to the degree of knowing what the Bears were going to do.

In fact, they did. They could hear what the Bears were planning to do.

In the second quarter of Sunday night's 55-14 win at Lambeau Field, Rodgers exploited a blown coverage in the Bears defense and wound up hitting a wide-open Jordy Nelson for a 73-yard touchdown.

"It was a blown coverage. We could see that," Nelson said. "I might be wrong, but based off what we could hear them doing, Aaron checked to a different route and in that process, it sounded like they were checking to Cover-2.

"The way [Bears cornerback Tim Jennings] played it, he played Cover-2 and the safety still stayed 1-high."

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So did the Packers — or at least Rodgers — know the Bears' defensive signals?

That would sure explain the 10 touchdown passes and zero interceptions from Rodgers against the Bears this season in just over three halves of football.

"I don't want to say they played poorly," Nelson said. "I don't know what their schemes completely are. I'd like to just give us credit for executing the plays."

It's an ominous echo of the season-ending mistakes from the Bears defense coming against Rodgers and Co. The Bears' 2013 season came to a definitive end when Chris Conte did not get a defensive signal changing coverage and Aaron Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for a touchdown on fourth down in the final minute of the final game. Green Bay went on to capture the NFC North and the Bears went to their couches.

Rodgers has torn the Bears apart in both games this season, tossing four TD passes in Week 4 at Soldier Field and throwing for six scores in the first half Sunday night in Green Bay.

On the other side, the Green Bay defense still seems to have Jay Cutler and the Bears offense figured out, as well. Cutler turned the ball over three times as he lost to the Packers for the 10th time in 11 tries in a Bears uniform.

So...same old Jay?

"You can say that; I can't," Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said with a laugh. "...I get those questions a lot, I just don't know what to say about them. I guess we match up well against those guys. Time after time, we play well against them.

"Typically, it's usually a closer game, but this one was a total blowout. Even though we usually play well against them, you look up at the scoreboard and the game's still close.

"It was the total opposite today. It was fun to play this game and it was one we needed."

[MORE: Bears facing crisis “What now?” questions after humiliation in Green Bay]

While Williams is right, the Packers have played the Bears well in the Cutler Era; Green Bay has turned a corner this year and has absolutely dominated the NFL's oldest rivalry. Rodgers and Co. have outscored the Bears 93-31 in two games this season.

"The first game [Sept. 28] was actually tighter than [the scoreboard showed]. Those guys moved the ball well. They did some good things," Williams said. "But this time around, we adjusted to some of those things.

"They got a lot of good players over there. You gotta give them respect where respect is due. We just made some adjustments that we felt we needed to make. And we executed in all three phases of the game. Any time you get a team doing that, it's going to be tough to beat."

While the Bears are still searching for their identity in the midst of what is quickly becoming a lost season, the Packers feel like they're coming into their own.

"I think it's just our consistency and knowing what we have, knowing the guys in this locker room and the mentality," Cobb said. "We know who we are and we believe in each other and I think we've created our identity over the last few weeks."

"You can't go into a game thinking you'd get up six touchdowns in the first half," Nelson said. "We had a feeling that we'd be able to be successful if we did what we were supposed to do. And that's what happened."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: How much pressure is on Roquan Smith now that he is finally in the fold?

On this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast David Haugh, Mark Gonzales and Leon Rogers join David Kaplan on the panel.

Roquan Smith’s holdout is over. How much pressure is on him now that the first round pick is finally in the fold?

Plus, the panel discusses how Joe Maddon can use grand slam hero David Bote down the stretch and if Tiger Woods is a lock to win a major in 2019.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

With Roquan Smith arriving, Bears gain major element of their present and future


With Roquan Smith arriving, Bears gain major element of their present and future

You knew it was going to get done. They always do. And Roquan Smith was going to be in a Bears uniform later rather than sooner because of contract issues. And now he reportedly is.

Smith now resumes the process of NFL orientation and acclimation that began with his rookie minicamp and continued through OTA’s and other workouts. Those are a long way from game speed, but the Georgia rookie linebacker is considered a long way from typical, so best guess is that he will arrive in Denver with his teammates at least in pretty good conditioning shape and actually a little healthier than quite of few of them, owing to having the good fortune of not playing two preseason games.

Now what?

Whether Smith plays Saturday in Denver against the Broncos is the question of the week. Given that he will have the better part of the week practicing against NFL competition, which, when you throw in off days and walk-throughs, is not a whole lot less than his teammates had prepping for the Hall of Fame game Aug. 2.

If Smith does not see the field in Denver, that would push back his first game action until Aug. 25 in Chicago against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is game three and the one starters play the most extensively in the preseason. Smith likely sits out the fourth game, against Buffalo, increasing the value of snaps in Denver next Saturday.

NBC Sports Chicago recently looked at prominent cases of Bears holdouts (Cedric Benson, Curtis Enis, McNown) and notable non-holdouts (Lance Briggs, Olin Kreutz, Charles Tillman, Brian Urlacher), with the clear conclusion that there is no demonstrable relationship longer-term between the success/lack of same of players who got contracts done on time and those who went through negotiating delays. Holdout players occasionally have injury issues but those, as in the cases of Benson, Enis and McNown, had less to do with the holdouts than ability shortcomings, or injuries unrelated to their holdouts.

The difficulty with fully understanding the current situation is that neither side has gone public with much in the way of detail, except the Bears dropping hints that they were giving in on a point that more than one player agent told NBC Sports Chicago never should have been there in the first place – the prospect of un-guaranteeing monies based on unspecified possible on-field situations. That allowed the Bears to claim a bit of the perceived PR high ground, with some immediate public reaction that now it was Smith’s turn to give in.

Regardless, no one really cares about all of that now. Notably, his teammates don’t particularly care. They know it’s a business, and Smith evinced none of the first-round repulsiveness that bugged teammates in the cases of Benson, Enis and McNown, who were all roundly disliked virtually from before the holdouts were resolved.

Smith has engendered none of that and now becomes a critical component of a defense in dire need of impact players. He has been projected as an obvious drop-in ahead of Nick Kwiatkoski and alongside Danny Trevathan, which suddenly gives the Bears more firepower at inside linebacker than they have had during the Vic Fangio regime, which has had to hope for health from Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and even Kwiatkoski, none of whom have put together 16-game Bears seasons for various reasons.

The Bears have seen arrows pointing sharply upward for members of their 2018 draft class. James Daniels (No. 2A) is already challenging for a starting spot on the offensive line. Anthony Miller (No. 2B) has been hampered by injuries in the past few days but was arguably the standout wide receiver in camp. Bilal Nichols (No. 5) has worked into the defensive-line rotation. Kylie Fitts (No. 6) has shown flashes as an edge rusher. Javon Wims (No. 7) flashed against Baltimore. 

Now comes what the Bears hope to be the flagship of the draft class.