Bears vs. Packers: Final Report Card, Player Grades for Green Bay
The Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears 23-10 at Lambeau Field to advance to 1-1 on the season. A stunning performance from the Packers' defense led the way as they picked off Jay Cutler four times on the evening.
The game started as a defensive battle with neither team getting anything going. A fake field which saw Packers' punter Tim Masthay flip the ball forward to backup tight end Tom Crabree for a 27-yard touchdown and a 10-0 lead. The Packers rode that momentum towards a 23-3 lead before closing out the 23-10 victory.
Let's take a look at the Packers' final postgame grades and evaluations.
Rodgers isn't quite playing at the level he did last season, but he did enough against the Bears to get the victory. His stats weren't overwhelming, but the only stat that truly matters is the one that now sits in the win column.
A few dropped passes and a couple miscommunications didn't do Rodgers any favors, but there were still some missed throws. All those factors combined have really taken the Packers' offense out of a rhythm.
Rodgers has some time to get it together with his receivers during the Packers long break before playing the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football on September 24th.
After getting only nine touches against the 49ers, Benson was a bigger factor against his old team. Benson carried the ball 20 times for 81 yards and also caught four passes for 35 yards. It was great to see the Packers showcase a semblance of a running game with Benson the main man.
Green only got two carries in the game, but managed just two yards on those carries. He looked unimpressive on those carries. It will take some time for Green to develop, but getting two carries a game won't do much.
It's hard to fault John Kuhn for failing to get a third-and-one when everybody in the stadium, including the defense knew he was getting the ball. The play hasn't worked in the past and didn't work against the Bears. In the passing game, Kuhn caught three passes for 23 yards. He also did a great job on special teams, notably chopping down Hester on a punt return.
Nelson was the most reliable target for Aaron Rodgers and he caught six passes for 84 yards. Down the stretch, Nelson definitely looked like Rodgers' go-to guy. That could just be because Greg Jennings was out of the lineup, but the chemistry between Rodgers and Nelson is undeniable.
With Jennings out, Jones had a big opportunity to follow up a good game last week as the starter tonight. It didn't happen for Jones who was targeted five times by Rodgers and only came up with two catches for -1 yards. He caught a quick pass for a loss of five yards and then later a four-yarder. Jones had a ball thrown in the end zone that he should have caught. It would have been a tough catch, but it's one that Jones is capable of making.
Cobb wasn't the same type of weapon as he was against the 49ers, but still showed he can be a threat on any play. He caught one pass for 20 yards and carried the ball once for 28 yards. He had another hand-off that went for close to 10 yards, but the play was brought back on a hold.
For Driver, it was all about patience. After playing just three snaps last week after Jennings went down, Driver saw more action tonight. Despite playing more, Driver was only targeted once. Driver made the most of that target as it was good for a 26-yard touchdown.
Often the most frustrating player on the Packers, Finley was unusually bad against the Bears. Known for having much success against Chicago, Finley struggled this time around. He caught four passes for 26 yards, but a big fumble in scoring territory cost the Packers points. Finley needs to improve his ball security. It wasn't drops, but a fumble. Neither are acceptable and need to be cleaned up.
Williams didn't see much action as part of the offense, but made the most out of his own target by catching the pass for six yards. With the heavy offensive depth the Packers' have, it will be hard for Williams to get opportunities, but making the most of those is impressive.
While Crabtree's touchdown "catch" and run on the fake field goal was incredible, he also did a great job blocking throughout the game. Not typically a receiving tight end, Crabtree is one of the most reliable blockers on the team and did a solid job against the Bears. The play on the fake field goal was absolutely huge and Crabtree did a good job by selling the fake. He found the hole and went on to change the game with that play.
Once again, Newhouse struggled early and picked up his play as the game went on. The Bears' defensive front-seven is always a tough task and Newhouse did enough to keep Rodgers upright for the majority of the game. A couple of the sacks Rodgers took were coverage sacks with Rodgers holding onto the ball too long.
Lang had a very good game both in pass protection and run blocking, actually opening up some holes for Cedric Benson. While Lang had a solid game for the most part, he was whistled for a holding penalty in the first quarter that killed a Packers' drive. It kept points off the board and contributed to the slow start.
Signing Saturday is probably one of the most underrated additions of the Packers' offseason. Changing centers can cause problems and with Saturday, the Packers haven't missed a beat. In addition to not missing a beat, Saturday did a great job in pass protection and run blocking.
Sitton continues to be an anchor of the Packers' offensive line. He is the most reliable of the group and consistently offers a solid performance. Sitton was solid in pass protection and was a force in the running game, opening up holes for Cedric Benson.
Bulaga didn't have the strongest game on the offensive line, but his contributions on the Packers' fake field goal can't be understated. He got down field and blocked, allowing Tom Crabtree to run through and into the end zone.
Pickett did a great job helping to contain Matt Forte and Michael Bush. As the leader of the Packers' run defense, Pickett was huge with five tackles, one for a loss, and also got in on the pass rushing with a QB hit. After giving up 186 rushing yard to the 49ers, the Packers gave up only 94 yards to the Bears.
Raji was another piece of containing the run game and getting pressure on the quarterback. His constant driving back of the interior linemen collapsed the pocket and allowed the edge rushers to get sacks and hits on Jay Cutler.
With C.J. Wilson inactive, Worthy took advantage of his starting opportunity. He finished the game with three tackles, including a sack and another tackle for a loss. Worthy looked very impressive for a rookie and will need to continue to grow on the defense line. He had one tackle in particular that stood out. A.J. Hawk blew the play up, but Worthy attacked the ball carrier and brought him down.
Daniels did a good job when he came into the game and recorded his first career sack. Daniels didn't get a ton of playing time, but there wasn't a big drop-off, if any, when he did in fact come into the game.
Merling played a quality game, despite it not showing up on the stat sheet. Officially, Merling recorded one tackle on the evening. The biggest contribution Merling gave was not dropping off and being a weakness when he was in the game. The Packers got a ton of pressure as a result of collapsing the pocket.
Matthews played one of the best games of his career against the Bears, totaling 3.5 sacks on the night. He was a complete menace and absolutely owned J'Marcus Webb. When he wasn't sacking Cutler, Matthews was either right there getting pressure or around the ball on running downs. It was a spectacular performance by Matthews, who now has six sacks on the season.
After a not-so-solid performance against the 49ers, Smith picked his game up and played well against the Bears. He got things started with a blitz, owned Forte as Forte tried to block him and sacked Cutler to set up the Bears' first three-and-out of the game. Smith finished the game with seven total tackles and the sack.
Hawk was solid against the Bears with five total tackles and one of those for a loss. One of his biggest contributions on the evening was getting into a scuffle with Bears' lineman Gabe Carimi. Hawk initiated the scuffle, but flopped upon receiving a shove from the lineman. Carimi was flagged for a personal foul and the penalty killed the Bears' drive. Hawk also did a good job in the run game. He blew up a play in the second half and allowed Worthy to stop Michael Bush for no gain.
While Clay Matthews had a feast in the Bears' backfield, fellow starter Nick Perry couldn't get anything going and was replaced by Erik Walden. It was a notable speed-bump for the rookie, but the important thing for the Packers' defense is that they got the production somewhere. Perry will have a chance to learn from this and move forward.
Walden replaced Perry and immediately got some pressure on Cutler. He offered a nice compliment to Matthews and the pair destroyed the Bears' offensive line. Walden was credited with half a sack on his combined with Matthews to bring down Cutler. Walden finished the game with three total tackles, .5 sacks and two QB hits.
Now that he's finally healthy, Tramon Williams is back to being a shutdown corner. He played a massively impressive game against the Bears and eliminated Brandon Marshall from being a factor. On the night, Marshall ended up with only two catches and 24 yards. Williams was a big reason why the Packers were able to cancel out Marshall's impact. In addition to his shutting down Marshall, Williams also came up with two interceptions. A more than solid day at the office.
After losing his starting job, Shields put together a decent performance last week. He got the nod this week and played a very solid game. He was heavily benefitting from the Packers' pass rush, but Shields didn't give up any big plays. Shields did make one mistake though. He accidentally ran onto a loose ball on a punt, touching the ball and making it live. He did a good job to pounce on the ball.
After talk of being washed-up, Woodson showed that the 35-year old still has it. He played a solid game with five total tackles and an interception. He broke on Cutler's pass and took the ball away for his 55th career interception.
The rookie had a decent game and didn't give up any big plays. He dropped what should have been an interception, but made up for it later by picking off Jay Cutler in the closing minutes. The interception probably should not have been ruled a catch, but it stood.
After miscommunications involving Burnett were discussed after the 49ers game, Burnett was good against the Bears. He finished the game with six total tackles, deflected a pass and got a hit on the quarterback. The biggest piece for Burnett was not giving up a big play to Cutler and the Bears.
Hayward came in for the dime package, ahead of Jarrett Bush. He did a decent job on the evening and came up with three total tackles. He looked a step behind in coverage, but the rookie hung in fairly well for his second NFL game.
Jarrett Bush– N/A
Bush was replaced by Shields and Hayward and is falling down the pecking order at cornerback. His strong play on special teams keeps him in the active roster conversation, but things will get interesting once Davon House is back from his shoulder injury.
Crosby made the most of his opportunities and hit field goals of 48 yards, 35 yards and 54 yards. He nailed both extra points as well. Crosby also had success on kickoffs, mostly keeping the ball away from Devin Hester. When Hester did have a chance at a return, Crosby got involved and contributed to the tackle that brought Hester down.
Masthay had the best statically game he will probably have. In addition to punting five times for a very good average of 47.6 yards and pinning the Bears inside the 20-yard line three times, Masthay also got credit for a 27-yard touchdown pass. On the Packers' fake field goal, Masthay caught the ball as the holder and flipped it forward to Tom Crabtree who ran the 27 yards for the score. Masthay's quarterback rating was a perfect 158.3 on the night.
Cobb didn't have many opportunities against a solid Bears' coverage unit, but did have one nice punt return for 16 yards. He returned one kickoff for 21 yards. It was a quiet night for Cobb, but the threat is always present.
McCarthy showed his aggressive side by going with the fake field goal in a close and very intense game. The call was huge and the play changed the game completely. McCarthy did a good job sticking with the running game throughout. While he called a fairly good game, there was only play call that was dreadful. On third-and-one, the Packers ran a fullback dive to John Kuhn. The Bears, and everybody else watching, knew it was coming and the Packers settled for a field goal on fourth down.
Capers put together a great response to all those fans that called for his head after the Week 1 disaster that was the Packers' defense. The unit dominated, giving up zero yards in the first quarter and no points in the first half. They got constant pressure on Cutler, forcing four interceptions and getting seven sacks.
The fake field was the play of the game and gave the Packers all the momentum in the game. You could see the mix of shock and disappointment in Lovie Smith's face. He truly never saw what hit him. The design of the play was flawless and allowed Crabtree to run untouched to the end zone. Slocum deserves a ton of credit for the play, while McCarthy deserves credit for going with it and running the play.