SAME OLD SAME OLD
by Jerry Gilbert
As I watched the Green Bay Packers lose to the Chicago Bears 19-7, I realized that even as this team continues to play hard, they continue to do the same things that make them lose every week. On offense, defense and special teams, mental and physical errors stand in the way of success.
The first Packer offensive drive was a portend of things to come. Brett Favre missed three open receivers. The offensive line committed two penalties. To add injury to insult, Bubba Franks, who had been counted on to help both with the running game and in the red zone, had to leave the field for the second time in two weeks because of back pain resulting from a tackle Then, Punter B. J Sander compounded the futility by shanking a 17 yard punt. For each of those plays, 9-10 players on the field did what they needed to do. A mental or physical breakdown by one or two doomed the play.
This was a game that did not support the idea of continuing to build an offense around Brett Favre. The offense started to find its groove in the second quarter and a mix of Samkon Gado on the ground and Favre to Driver and Ferguson through the air produced a go ahead touchdown. As the half ended, the Packers mounted a drive that looked as if it would result in another. However, in a repeat of the Ahman Green fumble at the goal line from last season, Brett Favre, harassed by a blitzer, tossed a floater into the end zone, which was returned 95 yards by Bears Cornerback Charles Tillman. Only a hustling tackle by Tony Fisher prevented the touchdown, thus forcing a field goal as time expired.
That interception and field goal basically decided the game. The Packer offense in the first half actually had the Bear defense reeling. Perimeter runs and short passes moved the chains effectively right up to the closing seconds of the second quarter. Tillman's play changed the momentum in the contest, and the mistake prone Packers could not recover. Chief among the problems on offense was a second interception, this time for a game clinching touchdown. Two quarterback fumbles were also drive stoppers.
As they have most of the season, the Green Bay Defense played fairly well. After two of Bret Favre's four turnovers, the Packer defense created a turnover of its own to hand the ball back. On the other hand, against an inept Chicago offense, the Green Bay defenders gave up just enough yardage to permit three field goals, which by themselves provided the margin of victory. Brett Favre's two interceptions for 10 points produced the remainder of the Chicago scoring. It should also be noted that two more potential interceptions were thwarted by the aggressive work of Green Bay receivers.
Give the Bears some credit. As Favre began to have some success, the Bears began to blitz, and the Packers were unable to capitalize. One reason is the Bears' team speed, particularly at linebacker. The Bear linebackers have the speed and instincts to recover. They do not allow short gains to become game breakers.
On the other hand, if a team can control the Bears rushing attack, the offense has little else to offer. Bears quarterback, Kyle Orton, completed only two passes of respectable length. Both were to Bernard Berrian who beat Ahmad Carroll for one and Mike Hawkins for the other. Al Harris absolutely throttled Chicago's ace receiver Mushin Mohammed. In the whole game, the Bears never converted a third down opportunity and completed only 6 passes.
However, the Bears defense compensated for its inept offense. The Green Bay defense did not. Although the Packer defense produced a fumble and an interception, they also missed at least two other potential interceptions which could have produced or set up scores. They also broke down just enough to give Orton and company 9 points.
A surprising bright spot for the Packers was some effective kick returning by Ahmad Carroll. Rookie Defensive End Michael Montgomery also made some nice plays. The of
fensive line continued on their inconsistent ways. U-71 should be officially retired. The lineup with Kevin Barry at tight end is never effective any more.
Because they are highly paid professionals, I am not shocked that the ineffective Packers continue to try hard. They have pride, and they realistically could have beaten several teams this season but for a few lapses at key times.
The season continues, and some of the remaining games should be available to Packer Fans around the country. Draft choice, shamftchoice, I would like to see a couple more wins in 2005.