Just rolled in from Green Bay and want to get some reaction to the wild season-opening loss up. I won't call it rapid reaction because nothing after the three-plus hour commute back from Lambeau Field is going to be rapid, but hopefully it will make a little sense. We can continue the discussion through the day. For starters, Jay Cutler Twittered about two hours ago, maybe when I was winding my way through Sheboygan, "Rough start to 2009 season. 15 games left, plenty of time left. We will get better, I promise you that." Sounds just about like what he said in his press conference afterward, verbatim. On to our 10 points before the head meets the pillow:
1. Cutler couldn't have been much worse. The guy who drew rave reviews in preseason for making plays on the run and being accurate when he was on the move was, well, terrible. As veteran Packers reporter Tom Silverstein said after the game, "Brett Favre was back.'' He made those types of interceptions. Just didn't look to play with much poise, especially when the game was so close. It's one thing to make bad decisions trailing big. The Bears were never trailing big.
2. Middle screen? The middle screen to Matt Forte inside the 10-yard line begged the question, how about throw the ball in the end zone? You know, sort of like John Shoop got beat up for three-yard passes on third--and-eight. Eight yards from the goalline, throw the ball in the end zone. Ron Turner called it a great play by defensive lineman Johnny Jolly. I agree. The call left plenty to be desired too.
3. Thought the defense played hard and fast. They were really flying around, and the pass rush was alive (although we're guessing Allen Barbre isn't the right tackle much longer). But Rodgers was sacked four times and he didn't get forced into the bad picks. Granted, Rodgers has far superior receivers and he's worked with his guys longer.
4. While we're on the subject of the defense, which played well enough to win (67-yard interception return to the one-yard line set up the Packers' only touchdown before the 50-yard Greg Jennings bomb), it still has to hold Green Bay at the end. The Packers got the ball on their own 28 with 2:35 to play and the defense needed a stop to win the game. Didn't happen.
5. Greg Olsen? So much for Olsen breaking out, at least in the opener. Press box statistics show he was targeted six times and had just one catch. There was definitely one drop too. Without proven threats outside, defenses are going to be able to pay attention to him.
6. Speaking of someone catching the ball, we threw out six catches for 72 yards for Earl Bennett. He had seven for 66 and Cutler targeted him 13 times, or more than one-third of the time.
7. The most disturbing thing about the Bears being 0-for-3 in the red zone looking for a touchdown? Those are your core plays. Football teams only call what they are best at near the goalline. Nothing the Bears think they are best at worked.
8. OK, so you want a silver lining? Looked like the lines played pretty well on both sides. Thought the run defense played pretty well, and Matt Forte would have had a better night had the Bears had a better rhythm running the ball.
9. Nice to see Johnny Knox involved. That's something the offense needs more of. He just blew past Charles Woodson. Solid effort for him in Week 1 because the fifth rounder from Abilene Christian is making a big jump.
10. Final point. This was a maddening game for the Bears. They turned the ball over four times, didn't get a single takeaway, and they should have won this football game. They found a way to right the ship in the second half when they held the ball for 19 minutes, 20 seconds, and they simply couldn't finish off the Packers. There were plenty of blunders, the fake punt was ridiculous. Cutler was downright bad. But through it all, the Bears were right there and they should have won. Had they pulled it out, the Packers would have to feel even worse than the Bears do right now, and I know that might be hard to imagine. Hopefully, this made sense. We'll tackle some issues some time after the sun is up.