Thursday Night Football on CBS was typical……..it wasn’t good. The game was awful, marred by fighting, targeting penalties, a weather delay, and bad offense. Green Bay won 35-14 over Chicago to close out the first quarter of the 2017 season.
You might remember former Bears HC Lovie Smith used to organize his season schedule by breaking it down into four, four game segments, dividing the season up into quarters. The Bears opening four games weren’t good, adding up to only 1 victory and 3 losses. That’s the bad news.
The good news is the schedule gets much easier the rest of the way. In the first four games, Chicago had to face three opponents that finished in last year’s Final Four (vs Atlanta (11-5, NFC Champs), @ Tampa Bay (9-7), vs Pittsburgh (11-5, AFC Runners-Up), @ Green Bay (10-6, NFC Runners-Up). Think about that! Per the NFL schedule makers, the Bears are supposed to have the benefit of the fourth place schedule. Instead, the Bears faced four winning teams from 2016. The only “easy” game out of the four was at Tampa Bay, and it looks like the Buccaneers are much improved after finishing strong last year at 9-7.
So what does it all mean? It means the last 12 games should be easier. There are only 3 games left out of 12 that feature opponents with winning records: vs Green Bay (10-6), vs Detroit (9-7), and at Detroit. Therefore, don’t get discouraged! Don’t let the media tell you this is a lost season, that Coach Fox should be fired, that Mike Glennon should take a seat. Rather, look at the positives!
What we DO worry about is that the Bears have lost confidence in themselves. They just need to get a win this week vs Minnesota on MNF at Soldier Field to regain some positive momentum. They also need the “Dutch Lion” to pump up these players with all these enthusiastic vibes.
To be honest, does anybody want to spend much time recapping Thursday night’s disaster? Let’s be quick with this week’s review. The game stunk! As usual, Aaron Rodgers drove the Packers down the field, got a TD pass on what should have been a penalty for illegal blocking downfield by a different WR on a pass that was caught BEYOND the line of scrimmage, and quickly led 7-0. (The rule states that WR’s can NOT block downfield while the ball is in the air UNLESS the pass is caught behind the line of scrimmage.) If you watch the replay, #18 Randall Cobb illegally blocked for #17 Davante Adams. YOU CAN’T DO IT! It should have been a penalty on Green Bay, pushing them back 10 yards. It was a small thing but if Glennon had thrown that pass to a Bears receiver you just KNOW that TD would’ve been called back on penalty. That’s the way superstar QB’s are treated and the way that the luck (or for the Bears, bad luck) has gone for most of the last 25 years now in this rivalry.
Then the Bears first snap was disastrous as Glennon was blitzed on a slow developing play action pass. Clay Matthews strip sacked Glennon, the Pack recovered, and then scored again for a ridiculous 14-0 lead. The Bears had run one offensive play and the game felt virtually over. The rest of the game was predictable, with Green Bay winning 21-14 the rest of the way. Final score, Green Bay 35 Chicago 14.
WR #13 Kendall Wright – Given the Bears horrid depth at their worst unit, the wide receivers, Wright did pretty well. He caught 4 balls for 51 yards and a touchdown on 4 targets from QB #8 Mike Glennon. Wright operated from the slot and at least he made some plays for an offense that was sorely lacking in playmakers on Thursday night. Remember that Wright was supposed to be the fourth or at best third option as we entered the 2017 season. In all honesty, Chicago probably has THE WORST WR UNIT in the entire NFL. I dare you to name a worse receiving unit. Given all that and the fact he stepped up, I’ll throw him a Game Ball. I hope he catches it 😉
QB #8 Mike Glennon – I continue to support Glennon despite the fact he played horribly for a 2nd time in 2 road games this season. From the very first play, Glennon waited too long in the pocket to unload the ball, thus getting strip sacked by Clay Matthews which easily set up Green Bay to take an easy 14-0 lead. The Bears road to victory can’t be paved with giveaways, and Glennon had 4 turnovers in this game. He threw 2 interceptions which were at least partially his fault for overthrows despite possible poor routes run by receivers. Also, he had 2 fumbles which again, despite poor blocking and offensive line play, he needs to avoid. 4 giveaways for a team that needs to win with a solid running game and takeaways from the defense are enough to make HC John Fox take away Glennon’s starting job. Rumor has it that Fox has already done so. Look for rookie QB #10 Mitch Trubisky to start next Monday Night.
OC Dowell Loggains – I bet Loggains would admit in retrospect that his opening play call wasn’t very good. It was as if Loggains was taking a highway to the “Danger Zone”. By using a slow developing, play action pass against a blitzing LB like #52 Clay Matthews, the Bears offense including QB Mike Glennon, in particular, were set up for possible failure. When the blitz wasn’t picked up effectively by TE #88 Dion Sims, Glennon had little time and he hesitated with his pass attempt. If you watch the replay carefully, you’ll see that WR #13 Kendall Wright was getting open on a crossing pattern. If Glennon would have just released it earlier it may have been a big completion. As it turned out, Matthews earned another sack. Another blitzing LB #47 Jake Ryan recovered, and the game was almost over before it began.
Player of the Game
ILB #59 Danny Trevathan – What does it say about a team’s performance when my ‘Player of the Game Award’ goes to a defender that committed a bad penalty with a late hit on Packers WR Davante Adams? I think you can surmise. Outside of the late hit which earned Trevathan a 2 game suspension from the NFL league office, he played pretty well. He led the Bears in tackles with 13! 13 tackles shows effort, and at least somebody stepped up to provide some passion and vigor in a tough environment. If you were watching closely, prior to Trevathan’s hit on Adams the game had been getting very chippy. Don’t forget it’s the league’s oldest rivalry and sometimes that background, along with a bit of anger and frustration from another crushing loss, can make even the most composed players lose it. I’m glad somebody lost it! Trevathan gets my Player of the Game for his toughness and leadership. Don’t forget this dude suffered a bad knee injury late last season and somehow he’s already back making 13 tackles. He’s a tough guy. Thank you for your effort Danny. Now the others need to learn from your example.
In my Bears/Packers Preview, I predicted:
“As of Thursday morning’s Chicago Tribune, Green Bay is favored by 7 points. The “Dutch Lion” will take the Pack to win, but “bearly”. Thursday games are notoriously low scoring. I’ll take Chicago ATS (against the spread) but not S/U (straight up). Green Bay will take the series lead for the 1st time in 85 years.
Green Bay Packers 20 Chicago Bears 14″
As you know, Green Bay dominated by more than we predicted. Chicago indeed scored 14 but gave up 35 with help from 4 turnovers, especially the first fumble by Glennon.
Final: Green Bay Packers 35 Chicago Bears 14
Bears Record: 1-3
Dutch Lion’s Record: 3-1 (Won two in a row)
That’s it for now. Look for my Bears/Vikings Preview later this week as Minnesota travels to Soldier Field for Monday Night Football!