Bears Report Card: Defense Shines in Win Over Packers

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The Chicago Bears made a significant statement on Thursday night as they knocked off the Green Bay Packers 17-13 at Lambeau Field.

We’ll have plenty of reaction to the game throughout the day, and we’ll get things started here with our report card for the Bears in their winning effort.

Offense: B

The Bears’ offense was efficient as all get out once they finally got rolling, as scoring drives in the second and third quarter indicated. Unfortunately, the Bears get points taken off for how long it took for the offense to make its mark in the game, and they also have to be criticized just a bit for their inability to extend their lead in the second half of the contest.

Even with those critiques, it was still an overall solid effort by the Bears in this one. Jay Cutler did have one bad moment where he nearly fumbled away a critical third down snap, but he took care of the ball for the most part and made some good throws, mostly to Zach Miller and Alshon Jeffery.

The Bears also got some good production out of Marc Mariani, who picked up a couple of first downs, and Jeremy Langford, who scored the go-ahead touchdown in the second quarter of the game to give the Bears a lead that they would never relinquish.

Defense: A-

The defense performed about as well as they could against the Packers, and the numbers speak for themselves. Aaron Rodgers had his worst career passer rating in a game played at Lambeau Field, putting up a 62.8 in the game, and the Packers’ offense was unable to come through in numerous key moments, including an early fourth down conversion try and in their late goal line sequence in the fourth quarter.

The team’s secondary was also stellar in this game, led by the excellent performance of Tracy Porter. Porter ended up with a fourth quarter interception and would have had a second one if his first quarter pick hadn’t been cancelled out by a penalty. He also had several big pass breakups, including one on James Jones in the closing seconds of the game.

Bryce Callahan, who made several big tackles and defended Davante Adams on the game’s final play, and Kyle Fuller, who stepped up in a big way in run support, also contributed to the excellent effort by the secondary.

The team’s pass rush also found paydirt on numerous occasions, repeatedly hitting Rodgers and forcing him to adjust his throws consistently. Willie Young and Lamarr Houston both looked good, and their timing was impeccable as Pernell McPhee missed chunks of the game.

Special Teams: C-

This area is one that the Bears have absolutely got to improve in. Outside of an excellent kick return by Deonte Thompson, which set up a scoring drive for the Bears in the second quarter, the team looked woefully lost in all areas of special teams, and it very nearly cost them the game.

Punter Pat O’Donnell did pin Green Bay behind the 20-yard line on numerous occasions, but his punting average has been down, and he’s not getting the leg behind the ball that he needs to. Mariani continues to display a lack of confidence in the punt return game. The team’s blockers aren’t giving the returners space to work or even to catch the ball cleanly. Robbie Gould even had a knee-knocker moment when his extra point in the second quarter knuckled through the uprights.

Add to that the Jeff Janis 64-yard kick return that gave Green Bay great field position, and it’s pretty obvious that the Bears have got a lot of work to do in this area. Things won’t likely improve much this season, but at least the team is getting plenty of stuff on tape to look at moving forward.

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