The Chicago Bears knew that their game against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday could be season altering, if not coach altering. The Bears entered Sunday with a one game lead over the Washington Redskins and Minnesota Vikings for the final spot in the NFC conference playoffs as the sixth seed. Not only were the Bears’ playoff chances on the line in Sunday’s game against the Packers, but the team also may have been playing for the future of Lovie Smith as the Bears head coach. If Sunday’s game against the Packers was any indicator for the Bears, then the team will not be in the playoffs and will also be looking for a new head coach.
The Packers defeated the Bears 21 t0 13 on Sunday. Now, there will be a lot of blame pointed in the direction of the referees. For whatever reason, the referees made an example out of Bears’ rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery who was flagged for several offensive pass interference penalties in the second half of the game. But suggesting that the referees are the reason why the Bears lost the game on Sunday would be a foolish and naive statement to make. For the record, the Bears were flagged ten times for a total of 91 yards,while the Packers were flagged eight times for a total of 104 yards. The Bears were outplayed in every facet of the game on Sunday.
Perhaps the reason why the Bears lost against the Packers on Sunday was becomes of the ineptitude of the offense. Look no further than how the Bears fared on third downs on Sunday. The Bears were a combined 0 for 9 on third down attempts in Sunday’s game against the Packers. The Bears struggles continued in the red zone as the team only converted one of their three red zone scoring attempts. Not a lot of games are going to be won with the efforts that the Bears showed on third down and in the red zone on Sunday.
Smith indicated that this is time when quarterbacks step up and lead their respective teams to the playoffs, and Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler failed to do so on Sunday. Cutler did have a touchdown pass to wide receiver Brandon Marshall, but the quarterback completed 13 of his 22 pass attempts for a total of 135 passing yards. Cutler also threw a costly interception towards the end of the second half. On the play, Cutler was able to look off the safety which opened up wide receiver Devin Hester but Cutler threw the ball directly into the hands of Packers’ cornerback Casey Hayward. The Bears opened the game with a commitment to the running game, however that commitment subsided as the game progressed. Bears’ running back Matt Forte rushed for a total of 69 yards on 20 carries. The Bears’ offensive line struggled with drive-stalling penalties and blocking as Cutler was sacked four times.
Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked three times by the Bears’ defense, but the common theme in Rodgers’ 23 completions on Sunday was how much time the quarterback had to dissect the Bears’ secondary. That is precisely what Rodgers did as the quarterback, who at times had 5 or 6 seconds to observe the field, picked apart the Bears’ defense. Rodgers seemed to put an emphasis on zeroing in on Bears’ cornerback D.J. Moore. Moore, more times than not, was covering James Jones–who scored all three touchdowns for the Packers on Sunday. The Packers did what they do best on Sunday and that was utilize the passing game, and the Bears’ offered no response.
Last week, Lovie Smith said the Bears were in a good position and that there are many teams that wish they could be in the same position as the Bears. With their loss to the Packers on Sunday, the Bears are the eighth seed as both the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings are ahead of the team. Remember, there are only six teams that make the playoffs from each conference. Meaning if the playoffs began tomorrow, the Bears would not be in them. Even though the Bears’ do have seemingly favorable games against the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions to conclude the season, the team is going to need to hope that either the Redskins, Giants, or Vikings provide the Bears with an opening. Had the Bears beaten the Vikings last week, then we would not be talking about a team on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Save the injuries excuse. The Bears’ started the season 7 and 1, and there is no reason that could justify the fact that the Bears are 1 and 5 in their last six games. If you’re going to point the finger, point the finger at Lovie Smith. In the past two seasons, the Bears are a combined o for 7 in the month of December. That is not how playoff teams finish the regular season. The Bears’ loss to the Packers should mean one thing, and that is that Smith should not be retained as the team’s head coach after the season.