Monday, November 10, 2014

Packers Easily Defeat The Bears: 55-14

If it wasn't clear before the Green Bay Packers crushed the Bears at Lambeau, the Packers are a lot better at home than on the road this season. Since they got off to a slow start in their home opener against the Jets, they've dominated their visiting opponents. Though they've also played four home games against four teams who probably won't make the playoffs (Jets, Vikings, Panthers, Bears). They'll get a test of their home field dominance next Sunday when the Eagles come to Lambeau.

It's also clear that teams who don't double cover WR Jordy Nelson (or cover him at all in the Bears' case) are going to lose. The Lions and Saints put a safety over the top and a corner underneath of him for most of their two games and they held him to his lowest performances of the season (59 and 25 yards, respectively, and no touchdowns). The best way to beat the Packers is to take Nelson out of the game and put as much pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers as you can, and the Bears didn't come close to accomplishing either of those tasks on Sunday night.
They have to keep pace with the Cowboys, Seahawks, and Lions, and that is what they did with the win. It'd be nice if one of those teams would slip up and open up a playoff spot for the Packers right now, but if they keep winning, it will happen eventually.

The major analysis has to be the decision to move LB Clay Matthews to inside linebacker (though he did line up outside as a pass rusher on several obvious passing downs). This is a really good idea and it worked very well in Game One of the experiment (he led the team in tackles and had a sack).

Ideally, this is not what I had in mind this season. Ideally, Clay circa 2010-2012 would be on the outside and GM Ted Thompson would have drafted another inside linebacker who is like Desmond Bishop circa 2010-2011 to play alongside him.

Moving Matthews inside, letting him watch the play develop in front of him instead of having him guess (usually incorrectly this season) at the line of scrimmage, should take advantage of his relentless pursuit while not running him out of the play altogether. He's good at dropping back into coverage and he can run sideline to sideline. He should be a very good inside linebacker and they'll still be using him occasionally as an outside rusher and inside blitzer.

This hopefully means more playing time for LB Nick Perry, who's been having a good 2014 season with limited snaps. Replacing one of the disappointing inside linebackers (Brad Jones, Jamari Lattimore) with Mike Neal isn't a big help (Neal's provided next to nothing as a pass rusher), but more snaps for Perry alongside Matthews would effectively replace his 2014 performance while solving their problems on the inside.

This was a really great game for the Packers and a historically bad one for the Bears (the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons?) but it only counts as one win. Now they'll immediately have to start looking ahead to the Eagles.

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