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Friday, September 14, 2012

What Have We Learned?

Well, that was painful. On the other hand, it might be a good thing to get this shellacking out of the way before the Bears get cocky (too late) or the fanbase anoints them potential Super Bowl Champions (guilty). The Bears are 1-1! That the second one involved the Packers makes it sting, but it doesn't change the fact that this is Week 2 of the NFL season. What's important here is to learn from this game's mistakes so that when Week 15 rolls around the Bears can finally (mercifully) take care of business against this team at Soldier Field. So what should the Bears have learned?

Lesson 1: We Fired Mike Martz for a Reason.

...and we don't want him back. Mr. Tice, last week you decided to try to set up the run with the pass (or more likely just tried to set up the pass with the pass). This resulted in a 2/13 start including a pick-6 for Jay. So what did you do against Green Bay, a team whose only defensive strength is pass rushing?

The same thing.

Interesting. So you have a top-5 RB on your roster (please don't be gone long, Matt), signed a separate running back in the off-season who is also excellent, are playing a team whose lone strength on defense is rushing the quarterback... and you choose to put the quarterback in the most imminent danger.

Here's your lesson, Mike: run the ball. All the receivers in the world can't help J'Marcus Webb. Did you notice how effective the offense was after Forte and Bush started getting handoff after handoff? The offense moved methodically down the field. The Packers had no answer. The receivers started to get separation. The Packers had to back off the pass rush to prepare for another bruising 8 yard run from Michael Bush. Imagine if you had started the game that way. Let's try it against the Rams.

Lesson 2: J'Marcus Webb is There. Deal With It.

The Bears aren't getting a new left tackle after week 2. Maybe Chris Williams takes over, but if he couldn't beat out Webb, do we really want that? So it's time to accept it and move forward.

For Jay, here's your lesson: every once in a while, you're going to get hit. Sorry. If you get hit in three seconds by some guy flying in from your blind spot, that's forgiveable. But if it takes longer than that to find someone downfield, dump that thing off. Stop looking downfield. Once 4-Mississippi passes you can be positive someone has run right past J'Marcus and wants your death. Get rid of it.

For Mike Tice; did you learn not one thing from last season? WE HAVE TIGHT ENDS. When you use them to help Webb block people, people get blocked! Amazing! Are you aware you can have a tight end blocking alongside Webb while also having four receivers on the field or even three receivers and an RB? Well you can! I suggest you consider this.

Lesson 3: Oh, Jay.

Well, Jay, I guess we could have seen this coming. It's true; inviting the Packer pass rush for the first two quarters was monumentally stupid. And Marshall dropped that TD pass. But you threw some of the worst damned passes I have ever seen last night.

Is it the Packer mystique, or do they have your number? Nope, you just had a bad game. Very bad. You made bad decision after bad decision. Whether it was throwing into double coverage, underthrowing open receivers, or just really bad decision-making, you really took the whole damn cake of failure and ate it too.

So, here's my lesson for you: calm down. Stop taking the game so personally. You were desperately heaving hail marys into double coverage when the Bears were down less than two touchdowns! If nothing is open? Dump it off or run. It's fine! I swear.

You know who else was having a bad night? Aaron Rodgers. He was getting beat to hell, his receivers were dropping passes, and he even overthrew two receivers open for big gains. But what did he do? Stayed calm. Observed the field. Threw short, quick completions to establish an offensive rhythm. Being down less than two touchdowns isn't a panic situation, and you saw, on that field goal drive, that underneath routes were plenty open.

If something isn't going your way, don't worry. You have the talent to turn it around. Just stop getting so desperate to get it all back in one shot.

Lesson 4: To the Fans

We overreacted. The Bears showed us all the potential we had been drooling over last week and more. It gave us, and the Bears, the confidence and swagger to think the Packers would go down. Obviously that was not the case.

But let's not overreact to this game either. The defense was incredibly stout. They gave up 16 points to Aaron Rodgers. I'll take that any day of the week. Tice is a new offensive coordinator, and it will take a few weeks to settle into the appropriate rhythm for this offense. Jay has been far too excited to throw it downfield in the first two games. Hopefully now he'll check down to shorter routes some as well. Thursday games are notoriously awful for the Bears, and the short week clearly took it's toll. With ten days rest until a game against the lowly Rams, let's see what the Bears change.

Titles aren't won in Week 2. What's important here is to learn. As long as the Bears can learn from this and develop, maybe that Week 15 game will be different. I'm actually more excited for that St. Louis game than I was for last night's game. The mark of a great team is to learn and rebound from adversity. The Packers did it last night. Here's to hoping the Bears do it next Sunday.