21

December

Packers Drive Rewind: Defense Takes a Stand

Sam Shields

Last week’s Packers Drive Rewind highlighted how a seven-play drive that featured all running plays buried the Lions. Watching it made you want to pound your chest and yell. Loudly.

This week, we’re going to stay with the tough-guy theme and highlight how the Packers defense stood tall with a goal-line stand after Ryan Grant fumbled.

The Situation
Third quarter. Packers 21, Bears 7. Grant just fumbled away a chance to blow the game open. The Bears are on the Packers’ 5-yard line after a 53-yard pass interference penalty against Morgan Burnett.

The Result
Matt Forte can’t get in the end zone on three straight runs and a touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery on fourth down is nullified by offensive pass interference. The Bears settle for a field goal.

Play 1: Forte up the middle for 4 yards


Ryan Pickett gtets stood up by Chris Spencer, but doesn’t get erased from the play. Forte ends up basically running back toward Pickett and getting swallowed up by the big guy. Forte had James Brown pulling to the outside. Morgan Burnett and Sam Shields do a nice job of setting the edge. However, I wonder if Forte would have had better luck following Brown to the outside and taking on Shields near the goal line instead of running back into the teeth of the Packers’ defense?

Play 2: Forte up the middle for no gain

Great stick by Brad Jones. He flows to the other side of the line and meets Forte head on after Dezman Moses occupies two blockers. Pickett torpedoes his gap and B.J. Raji blows up Edwin Williams, taking away any hope for a cutback. Once again, it looked like Forte might have had better luck trying to keep going around the end and taking on Jarrett Bush instead of plowing into the pile.

Play 3: Forte up the middle for no gain

A.J. Hawk fills the gap and Jones comes free to stand up Forte before he can get into the end zone. Everybody up front for the Packers does a nice job of fighting their way to a stalemate, allowing Jones to come in untouched and prevent the touchdown. Another nice play from Jones here. Who knew he would look so smooth flowing to the ball inside?

Play 4: Alshon Jeffery catches a 1-yard touchdown, nullified by offensive pass interference

3

January

Big Changes Coming in 2012 for Packers’ Rivals to the South

Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz resigned on Tuesday.

There may not be drastic personnel changes for the Chicago Bears in 2012, but two of the more recognizable faces in the team’s organization won’t be around next season.

On Tuesday, the Bears announced that both general manager Jerry Angelo and offensive coordinator Mike Martz will not be back with the team in 2012. Shane Day is also out as the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Head coach Lovie Smith will be retained for next season, however.

Angelo had just finished his 11th season as Bears’ GM, one that saw Chicago start 7-3 but nosedive to an 8-8 finish after both quarterback Jay Cutler and running back Matt Forte were lost to season-ending injuries. Angelo did little to remedy the Bears’ situation at quarterback after Cutler went down, instead trusting in Caleb Hanie to get the Bears back into the playoffs for the second-straight year.

Hanie lost all four games he started and was later replaced by Josh McCown, who hadn’t started an NFL game since 2007. The Bears scored 21 or fewer points in each of their final six games of 2011.

Angelo’s failure to lock up Forte over the long term may have also factored into his firing. Forte, a free agent this summer, was unable to come to terms with Angelo over a new contract. The dispute turned public after Forte declined an offer during the 2011 preseason in the range of $13-14 million guaranteed and the entire matter was a lasting issue into the regular season.

News trickled out later that Martz, the Bears offensive coordinator over the last two seasons, had resigned from his position because of philosophical differences with the organization. Day, the Bears quarterback coach who was hired the same day as Martz, is also walking away.

Previously the mastermind behind the Greatest Show on Turf in St. Louis, Martz often took criticism in Chicago for his handling of Cutler and the offense. Under Martz, the Bears offense never ranked higher than 17th in points scored or 22nd in total yards during the two years.

The Bears will begin the hunt to find replacements for each, but former Colts GM Bill Polian has been rumored for Angelo’s position and offensive line coach Mike Tice could be promoted to coordinator.

25

September

Packers vs. Bears Preview: 5 Things to Watch

The Green Bay Packers (2-0) and Chicago Bears (1-1) face off in Week 3 of the NFL season.

The basics

When: 3:15 CDT, Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL

TV: FOX, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman with the call, Pam Oliver on the sidelines

Radio: 620 AM WTMJ (Milwaukee); Packers Radio Network

Series: Bears lead, 92-84-6. Packers won last regular season game, 10-3, in January 2010 at Lambeau Field. Bears hold 20-19 record at Solider Field.

Five things to watch

1. Containing Forte

In six career games against the Packers, Bears running back Matt Forte has only averaged a little over 20 touches per game. The Bears will need to go over that number on Sunday to win. Forte is the focal point of the Bears offense, but too many times the Bears have went away from him.  Mike Martz isn’t making that same mistake to start this season. After asking for a new contract before the season, Forte has looked like one of the more complete backs in the game through two weeks. He’s averaging 4.5 yards on 26 attempts, but Forte is doing his real damage as a receiver, where he’s caught a team-high 15 passes for 204 yards.  If the first two weeks are any indication, the Packers might have trouble containing him in that role. Of the 851 yards the Packers have allowed to opposing quarterbacks, running backs are responsible for 235 of those. With the kind of film the Packers’ defense have put out early this season, you’d have to think Martz spent this week looking for ways to get Forte the ball in space.

2. Missing a playmaker

For all the nicks and bruises Packers safety Nick Collins has endured over the years, he’s played in 95 of the 98 regular season games the team has played since 2005. After suffering a neck injury in the second half against the Panthers, Collins will now miss the Packers final 14 games. I think most are underestimating how big of injury this could potentially be. Yes, Charlie Peprah played over 900 snaps for the Packers last season. Yes, Morgan Burnett looks like he could be a playmaker. But you simply can’t replace a two-time All-Pro who has 18 picks over the past three seasons with a journey man backup or a guy who really is in his first year at the professional level after an ACL injury. Making matters worse is the fact that the Packers now have undrafted free agent M.D. Jennings, who was expected to be nothing more than a practice squad guy, as the primary backup to both Peprah and Burnett. What was a position of strength for the Packers now appears to be a place opposing offenses could go to attack.