The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers were able to provide an intense showdown on Monday Night Football despite the absence of their starting quarterbacks. Josh McCown and the Bears were able to best Seneca Wallace and the Packers by a final score of 27-20.
Going forward, neither of these teams should sweat their respective quarterback situations after the performances delivered on Sunday night.
The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers early in the first quarter due to an injury to his non-throwing shoulder. Rob Demovsky of ESPN confirmed on Tuesday that Rodgers has a broken collarbone and will miss an uncertain amount of time.
This is truly a devastating injury. However, it is one that the Packers can overcome.
Led by rookie running back Eddie Lacy, the Packers showed prowess on the ground that has not exactly been typical of their offense in recent years. Lacy's bruising running style tormented the Bears defense to the tune of 22 carries for 150 yards—an average of 6.8 yards per carry—and one score. The Packers were able to rush for 199 yards as a team.
Wallace was not spectacular at the quarterback position, but he did show signs of efficiency. He completed 11 of his 19 passing attempts for 114 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception for a passer rating of 53.4.
Looking over Wallace's performance, he could certainly play the role of game manager going forward. The Packers can continue to rely on a solid rushing attack and allow Wallace to concentrate on high-percentage throws and ball security.
While this is a big change of pace for Green Bay, it's a formula that can be very effective.
The Bears were extremely impressive on the ground as well on Monday. Veteran running back Matt Forte was a highly viable workhorse, as he carried 24 times for 125 yards—an average of 5.2 yards per carry—and one score. Chicago rushed for a total of 171 yards as a team, taking a huge amount of pressure away from McCown.
With the Packers defense focusing on the running game, McCown was able to find time in the pocket. Routes were able to develop and he was able to come away with a nice performance. He completed 22 of 41 passing attempts for 272 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 90.7.
This was a faster recovery than initially expected, so a keen eye must be kept on the quarterback in case there are any setbacks. If Cutler is unable to go for another week, head coach Marc Trestman and the Bears have proven that they can provide a winning formula without the availability of their starting quarterback.
Both the Packers and the Bears have taken their current offensive situations and turned them into structured and effective schemes that hide weaknesses and highlight strengths.
Looking ahead, each of these teams may have to attempt to remain in contention with backup quarterbacks at the helm:
|Bears and Packers: Next Three Opponents' Defensive Ranks|
|Bears||Opponent||Rank vs. Run||Rank vs. Pass|
|Packers||Opponent||Rank vs. Run||Rank vs. Pass|
Of the six opponents listed, only three of the 12 defensive rankings include a top-10 unit. It certainly appears as though the backups should be capable of keeping playoff hopes alive if the starters are forced to miss the next few weeks.
These NFC North contenders will continue to put themselves in position to win games no matter who happens to be under center.