Blowing Out the Bears
The one hundred and seventy-fifth meeting between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears was a must win for the Packers. In a stunning turnaround from their lackluster play last week against the Vikings, the Packers totally dominated the Bears Sunday, which ended in a 37 – 3 blow out. The win catapulted the Packers into a three way divisional tie with the Bears and the Vikings, all now having 5 – 5 records.
The Bears’ run defense is ranked the fourth stoutest in the NFL. Nonetheless the Packers were determined to run the ball and that they did. Ryan Grant ran with abandon as the offensive line repeatedly opened gaping holes. By halftime the Packers had racked up 138 yards on the ground and, combined with razor-sharp passing by Aaron Rodgers, took a 17 – 3 lead.
Grant came on big-time last year at mid-season and his return to form now bodes well for balancing the Packers’ offense for the second half of this season. Successful teams in cold weather environs need a strong running game when the howling winds and freezing fingers often stifle passing attacks in November and December. Grant now being 100% healthy for the first time this year, and the offensive line once again performing like hairy-chested football players rather than little girls, is indeed good news for the Pack.
The second half of this game brought more and more Cheesehead smiles as the Packers finished off their finest performance of the season. Unlike last week, Rodgers got excellent pass protection Sunday. The Packers called pass plays when the Bears’ safeties crowded the line of scrimmage, and running plays when the safeties laid back…. classic successful textbook play-calling stuff. Probably most of the credit should go to Mike McCarthy, but at least on a couple occasions Rodgers used an audible to change the play… he is a very smart player.
Middle linebacker Nick Barnett suffered a season-ending knee injury last week so the Packers decided to shuffle A. J. Hawk into that position. Hawk hasn’t played middle linebacker since high school but I thought he looked like a natural in his first go at it in the pros. Middle linebackers usually are in a position to get in the mix with lots of gap stops and Hawk did just that. He also provided tight pass coverage when called upon. The move allowed Brandon Chillar to take over at weak side linebacker. The physical Hawk just might be ideally suited at middle linebacker and, combined with the athletic Chillar, their new roles might just make the Packers’ defense stronger.
The Packers’ best performance by far this year has put them right into the midst of a playoff hunt. The road to the North Division title travels through New Orleans next week where the Pack has a date with the Saints on Monday Night Football. The Saints’ offense leads the entire NFL in yards per game this year. Quarterback Drew Brees is a very talented quarterback and Reggie Bush is a treat anytime he touches the ball. Defensively, the Packers should be able to move the ball against the Saints. It will be interesting to see if the Packers can bring the same intensity that made them look so awesome against the Bears to the field again next Monday.
Talk back! Tell us what you think of this year’s teams. What would you do if you were in charge?
Go to winonapost.com, click on Football Forum to discuss this year’s season.