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Week 15 Game Recap: Green Bay Packers 21, Chicago Bears 13


Green Bay Packers

QB Aaron Rodgers, Pass: 23 - 36 - 291 - 3 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 4 - 14 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)

Rodgers started off slow, but by the end of this game, he was rolling and showing us why he's an elite and invaluable player for this team. Early on, he suffered from some heavy pressure and seemed to be out of sync with his receivers. There were some brutally bad throws throughout the game really, including a pass to Greg Jennings in the third quarter which should have been picked off by the Bears' Charles Tillman. On that play, Jennings had the inside on Tillman, but "Peanut" was pretty much on top of the Packers receiver. There was little chance that the pass was going to be complete, and it was just lucky that Tillman couldn't hang on. This is what you get from Rodgers though--that supreme confidence that any throw into any coverage can be completed. More often than not, a guy like Rodgers is right too. It's what makes Rodgers arguably the best quarterback in the league. Not only does he have the will to throw it, the arm to get it there and the belief he can make any throw--he's right. Case in point, an absolutely wonderful throw to Randall Cobb in the early second quarter. This throw is everything that makes Rodgers, for lack of a better term, an elite quarterback. With plenty of time, he sees Cobb's route splitting the zone. There is almost no room for error--cornerback D.J. Moore is just underneath Cobb, while both safeties (Chris Conte and Major Wright) are shadowing over the top. Moore reacts too slowly to get his hands up, but even if he had, the pass was a rocket and in perfect position for Cobb to catch it without breaking stride. Cobb gets taken down quickly after the catch, but the throw was beautiful. Rodgers hit Cobb for another big gain a little later. On this play, the Packers quarterback was flushed out of the pocket to his right, with the Bears pass rush in hot pursuit. Cobb, again pursued by a trio of Bears defenders, headed towards the sideline. Rodgers launched the ball on the run and hit Cobb with a throw which, while a tad high, was placed where only his receiver would get it. Cobb made an outstanding catch, extending his body up and grabbing the ball before being knocked out of bounds. That seemed to spark the offense, as shortly thereafter, Rodgers hit a streaking James Jones down the sideline for a 'looked too easy' touchdown. He would hit Jones two more times for scores, with the final touchdown coming despite Bears' cornerback Charles Tillman having perfect coverage and being in great position to make a play. Rodgers threw the ball away from Tillman towards Jones' outside hip and Jones hauled in his third score of the day.

RB Alex Green, Rush: 13 - 35 - 0, Rec: 2 - 6 - 0 (5 targets)

Green got the most carries for the Packers, but seemed to have the hardest time gaining yards for stretches during the game. The Bears met all three running backs (Green, DuJuan Harris and Ryan Grant) at the line and behind it pretty often. That said, Green continued to show flashes of ability and while he wasn't great against a determined Bears front seven, he had some runs where you can see the patience and determination which has really stood out since he took over for James Starks. On the plays where the line did a good job of blocking for him, such as on an eight yard run in the first quarter, Green hit the hole decisively and showed good speed getting past the line of scrimmage. It's not a sure thing he will turn into a full time lead back, but he definitely has looked good the last few games and earned a share of the backfield touches.

RB Ryan Grant, Rush: 8 - 32 - 0

Grant's first carry could well have been his last since it resulted in a fumble. Luckily for him, coach Mike McCarthy doesn't give up easy, so Grant had chances to atone for his error. On the fumble play, Grant had a huge hole to run through, and quickly got to the second level. He got wrapped up by the Bears' Major Wright who knocked the ball from Grant's hands. The Bears recovered it. It didn't result in any Chicago points, but it's the sort of mistake that had Grant unemployed for most of the season.

RB DuJuan Harris, Rush: 5 - 27 - 0

Harris didn't get a carry until the beginning of the second half but he picked right up where he left off last game with a big run up the middle which he broke for a large gain. Harris had a giant hole to run through, which he got through quickly before slipping a tackle and getting to the second level. It was a very nice 21 yard gain and shows he's pretty dangerous when he gets past trash at the line of scrimmage. Unfortunately he didn't get that wide a gap again and he's not going to beat backfield penetration all that often, so he had a lot more carries like the very next one, where he was stuffed at the line. He's got the raw skill and speed to be a real factor, though and it just will take some time before he's polished.

RB John Kuhn, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0

As always, Kuhn had more of an impact as a blocker than a running back. For some reason the Packers insist on running him on these short off-tackle plays which go nowhere now that everyone knows they run them. He'll break a nice run every once in a while, but not on Sunday.

WR Randall Cobb, Rec: 6 - 115 - 0 (8 targets)

Cobb continues to amaze and astonish. It's hard to pick out which of his six catches was his best but the one which stands out the most was a brilliant, leaping catch along the sideline. On this play, Rodgers was flushed out of the pocket to his right, with the Bears pass rush in hot pursuit. Cobbwas heading towards the sideline with a trio of defensive backs at his heels. Rodgers launched the ball on the run and hit Cobb with a throw which was a little high and forced Cobb to make an outstanding catch, extending his body up and grabbing the ball before being knocked out of bounds. The ball was where only Cobb could get it and illustrated the confidence Rodgers has in his young wide receiver. Cobb also excelled on numerous slant plays. The Packers seem to avoid those short passing routes, but when they use them, Cobb is often the target and his ability to make plays after the catch often turn those slants into big games.

WR James Jones, Rec: 5 - 60 - 3 (7 targets)

Jones had a huge game, scoring three times on five catches. While his first touchdown was a great route capped by a nice catch, the other two were far more impressive. On the second touchdown he just completely owned the Bears' DJ Moore. Moore allowed Jones to get inside on the route and Jones uses his body to block Moore out of the play. When Rodgers delivers a perfectly thrown ball to Jones, he just falls backwards into the end zone and Moore isn't in a good position to make the tackle. On the third touchdown, cornerback Charles Tillman had very good position on Jones, but Rodgers made a very nice throw, low and at the hip opposite of Tillman and the Jones made a very nice catch for a touchdown. For a guy who had taken heat in the past for bad drops, Jones has become a very sure handed option for Aaron Rodgers.

WR Greg Jennings, Rec: 4 - 50 - 0 (7 targets)

If the writing wasn't on the wall already, it's been posted in neon since his return--Jennings is not the primary receiver on this team. He still sees his share of targets, but he's not being sent on the vertical routes as much anymore and Aaron Rodgers is much more likely to look for Randall Cobb, James Jones or (when healthy) Jordy Nelson. Jennings saw a lot of short yardage work, running some slants and short outs. It was on one of these shorter routes that Jennings had his biggest play. With the Packers on their own 11, Jennings ran a short hook down the right side of the field. The coverage was much deeper, so Jennings had a giant cushion to make the catch, which he did. One defender flew past him as he made the grab and then Jennings shook off another would-be tackler. Jennings fought his way down field , hopping and spinning to evade defenders and finally brought down for a 19 yard gain.

TE Jermichael Finley, Rec: 5 - 61 - 0 (6 targets)

Finley had a more active than usual day, as Aaron Rodgers hit the big tight end for multiple underneath and slant routes. Finley has continued to have issues with drops this season, but made most of his targets this week, hauling all but one in. He isn't targeted at key moments though, and is clearly well down the list on the pecking order.


Chicago Bears

QB Jay Cutler, Pass: 12 - 21 - 135 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 1 - 9 - 0

Stop us if you've heard this before: Jay Cutler found himself under pressure almost all day as the offensive line failed to protect him long enough to deliver the ball on a consistent basis. Cutler did have some success scrambling for yards more than once, but most of the time he was merely running for his life. When he has time, he delivers a really nice ball, as he did to Matt Forte on a go route down the right sideline. The ball was beautifully thrown and had it been one of his receivers (the guys with a little more reach), could have been caught for a big gain. As it was, the ball was just out of Forte's reach. Even under pressure, he threw the ball well most of the day. Unfortunately, the one time he didn't turned into an ugly interception. On that play, the pocket collapsed around him and Cutler stepped up, looking for a receiver. The Packers had tight coverage, but Cutler must have seen something he liked about Devin Hester matched up with Casey Hayward. Devin Hester was in the slot and, at least appeared to me after the fact, well covered by cornerback Casey Heyward. It looked as if Cutler expected Hester to either turn upfield on the pattern or stop. Instead, Hester continued his pattern into the middle of the field. Cutler threw the ball before that though, and Hayward saw it. Hester continued and the ball sailed well behind him, an easy interception for the Packers' defensive back. Even if Hester was supposed to stop his route, it was a badly thrown ball that never should have been released. Hayward has perfect position and likely would have at best deflected the pass even in the best of scenarios. It was a rough day for Cutler, as the Packers' pass rush did an excellent job penetrating into the backfield and making sure he rarely had a moment's peace.

RB Matt Forte, Rush: 20 - 69 - 0, Rec: 5 - 64 - 0 (8 targets)

The Bears started things off by leaning on Forte for four straight Forte runs to start the game, and the running back delivered for 37 yards on that opening gambit. Then Packer nose tackle B.J. Raji started getting into the backfield and it pretty much fell apart. Forte was hit often behind the line, either by Raji or Clay Matthews. Even when they didn't take him down, they slowed him enough for someone else to do it. Forte did have a very nice run called back on a Gabe Carimi penalty where the running back saw the hole closing and made a pretty cutback so he could get to the edge. On the other hand, without that hold, Forte doesn't get away. One of his best runs came in the middle of the 2nd quarter. Forte took the ball deep in the backfield on a play which looks like it was designed for an off tackle/up the middle run. However, Forte instantly saw he wasn't going to get any yards going that way, and switched directions to head outside. He shows some tremendous speed as he heads to the corner, leaving one defender grasping for air as he turns upfield and gains a first down. He finishes by lowering his shoulder and delivering a great hit on the tacklers. The Bears fell behind and got away from the run game, but still threw the ball to Forte quite a bit on checkdowns and screens, both of which were effective. They haven't been doing that as much this season, so hopefully this is something they'll do more of in the last two games because it works.

RB Armando Allen, Rush: 2 - 5 - 0, Rec: 1 - 15 - 0 (1 targets)

In the mix early, Allen made a gorgeous catch and run at the end of the first. The Bears were stuck at second and twenty and looking a little desperate. On the play, Cutler was under the usual massive pressure by BJ Raji, Clay Matthews and Eric Walden. However, this looked like it might be by design and set to collapse and suck the Packers too far into the backfield. This allowed Cutler to step up and deliver a short pass to Allen, who was moving out to Cutler's right and already had two blockers clearing a path for him. Allen then eluded several tacklers and went for a big gain. He didn't see much more work but with Michael Bush still clearly hurt, he will see the occasional play to spell Forte.

WR Brandon Marshall, Rec: 6 - 56 - 1 (7 targets)

Marshall's second catch of the game (almost a full quarter after his first) took place on a gorgeous route, where he totally juked the linebacker to find open space and make the grab. Marshall was able to take advantage early of the Packers' tendency to play too far off him and was able to get a score because of it in the second quarter. On that play, Marshall ran a short hook in the middle of the field and linebacker Brad Jones had to run up to make a play as was too deep. By the time he gets there, Marshall had the ball and then made him miss his tackle as he turned towards the end zone. Then Marshall obliterates cornerback Casey Hayward with a stiff arm, heads to the sideline and taking advantage of some great blocking by the other receivers, heads in for the score. Unfortunately, Cutler was just under pressure too often and couldn't find Marshall enough to pull the Bears back into the game.

WR Devin Hester (1 targets)

Hester was targeted once on an interception by the Packers' Casey Heyward. Hester had lined up in the slot and Hayward had him well-covered on his route. It appeared that Jay Cutler had expected Hester to either stop or turn upfield, but Hester ran a slant across the field instead. The result was a badly thrown ball way behind Hester which was picked off. Hester may have run the wrong route, but the ball never should have left Cutler's hand either. Hester was well contained on returns as well. It's befuddling to see him lining up as a wide receiver game after game with little result, while Dane Sanzenbacher hangs out on the bench. Hester looked better early this season, but has regressed and hasn't been a factor in some time.

WR Alshon Jeffery (4 targets)

Jeffery didn't see a ton of work, as he had a lot of issues getting separation from the Packers' defensive backs. He has a ton of ability, but he's not an elite route runner or speedster, and ended up handfighting too much. That resulted in three offensive pass interference penalties, one of which resulted in an overturned touchdown. Both that call and the last one came against veteran Packer cornerback Sam Shields and had Jeffery been a veteran, I'm not sure he gets flagged for them. Both were good flops and sell jobs by the veteran cornerback and and neither were good calls. Jeffery has to avoid getting himself into those situations though, as the result cost his team dearly.


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