Green Bay Packers' Studs and Duds vs. Chicago Bears
The Green Bay Packers bounced back from the physical pounding they took from the San Francisco 49ers on opening weekend in a 30-22 loss, by doing the same thing to the Chicago Bears in a 23-10 win last Thursday night.
A number of players led the charge for the Pack in that performance (the studs), and a few players were not so dominant in their individual play (the duds).
I'm listing the players who stood out to me as studs and duds in the Packers' matchup against the Bears.
Stud: Clay Matthews
What can you say about Clay Matthews' performance last Thursday vs. the Bears?
Incredible is one word. Matthews had seven total tackles in the game, which included 3.5 sacks.
He led the potent pass rush of the Packers, which saw QB Jay Cutler get sacked seven times. Matthews has to be the early leader for the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, as he now has six sacks for the season, which already matches his total for 2011.
Dud: James Jones
WR James Jones didn't do QB Aaron Rodgers any favors during the game vs. the Bears.
Jones only had two receptions for -1 yard, plus couldn't come down with a pass thrown by Rodgers which would have been a TD in the game. Granted, that catch was difficult, but this is the NFL.
The most glaring mistake Jones made was when he didn't follow through on a pass route when Rodgers threw to a spot he expected Jones to be. It led to an interception which also led to Chicago's only TD of the game.
Stud: Cedric Benson
Cedric Benson was playing against the team (the Bears) who had drafted him, and his performance was what the Packers want to see out of their RBs this year.
A week after gaining just 18 yards in nine carries, Benson had 81 rushing yards in 20 carries. He also added four catches for 35 yards.
All in all, Cedric was quite an entertainer.
Dud: Nick Perry
Nick Perry did not play a lot of snaps against the Bears after it was learned that he had injured his wrist in the game vs. the 49ers.
Perry did not have a tackle in the Chicago game, while his replacements at LOLB, Erik Walden and Dezman Moses, had four tackles between them, and Walden added half of a sack.
The competition at LOLB should lead to better performances by all three players as the 2012 season goes on. The better one man plays will lead to more snaps for that player, plus the quality depth will also keep Perry, Walden and Moses fresh.
Stud: Tramon Williams
When the Green Bay Packers were marching through the playoffs and then on to a win in Super Bowl XLV, no defensive player on the Packers was more dominant than Tramon Williams.
Williams had three picks in that postseason, including one for a TD, and it was he who knocked away a pass on fourth down from Ben Roethlisberger to Mike Wallace on the Pittsburgh Steelers' final drive in the Super Bowl.
Last season, Williams suffered nerve damage in his shoulder in the first game of the season and was never the same player he was in 2010, a season in which he was also named to the Pro Bowl.
Against the Bears, Williams looked like the same player he was in that 2010 season and postseason. Williams had two picks, plus four tackles.
Dud: Jarrett Bush
The secondary of the Packers played much better vs. the Chicago Bears than it did against the San Francisco 49ers.
Why? For one, a better pass rush. Secondly, Jarrett Bush did NOT play one snap in the secondary.
Sam Shields and rookie Casey Hayward played in Bush's place at RCB, and both played very effectively.
Now don't get me wrong, Bush is probably the best special teams tackler the Packers have, and he had another tackle vs. the Bears in that area.
But Bush is just not a very good coverage CB, and he should only be used in the secondary when it's absolutely necessary.
Stud: Tom Crabtree
Tom Crabtree and the rest of the field goal unit deserve special praise.
They faked a field goal against the Bears and instead saw holder Tim Masthay flip the ball to Crabtree for a 27-yard TD.
Crabtree's TD was led by Evan Dietrich-Smith and by Don Barclay, who both had key blocks in the 27-yard play.
It was the turning point of the game, and it gave the Packers a 10-0 lead.
Dud: Jermichael Finley
Jermichael Finley once again had some nice moments in a game, only to also have some glaring mistakes in his performance.
Finley had four catches for 26 yards, but he also missed making a catch in a deep seam route, a play that Finley has to make if he ever wants to get to elite status among TEs.
But the biggest mistake Finley made was when he fumbled as the Packers were driving for a score, and the Bears recovered.
Ball security is a key factor on whether or not one will get more looks or snaps in Mike McCarthy's offense. Drops and fumbles certainly don't help the cause of Finley.
Studs: Tim Masthay & Mason Crosby
The kicking tandem of P Tim Masthay and K Mason Crosby are among the best in the NFL, and their performance against the Bears certainly illustrated that point.
Masthay threw a 27-yard TD pass on a fake FG, plus had a 47.6 yard average on five punts, including one for 57 yards. Three of Masthay's punts were kept inside the 20-yard line as well.
Crosby was three for three in FG attempts, including a 54-yard kick, which is the longest FG ever by a Packer at Lambeau Field.
Studs: The 2012 Rookies
The rookie class of 2012 made their presence known in the game vs. the Bears.
DL Jerel Worthy and Mike Daniels both had a sack. CB Casey Hayward got playing time in the dime package and had three tackles. S Jerron McMillian played in the nickel and dime alignments and had two tackles and an interception.
Undrafted rookie LB Dezman Moses also added a tackle.
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