The Green Bay Packers used their bye week to reflect on their first eight games and rest up for the second half of the season.
It worked—as they trounced the Chicago Bears by a score of 55-14. Let’s take a look at how each positional unit performed during the team’s domination of all three phases of the game.
This would have been an A+ had Aaron Rodgers stayed in for the entire game. While some blame goes to Chicago’s secondary for blowing assignments and leaving wide receivers open, Rodgers was still flawless. As you watched him glide around the pocket and step into throws, his hamstring injury from two weeks ago was forgotten.
He did a nice job sharing the wealth on Sunday—spreading touchdowns around to Brandon Bostick, Andrew Quarless, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb.
Rodgers’ deep ball was sharp throughout the night—hitting Nelson for 73 and 40-yard touchdowns, while also drawing a pass interference penalty on another throw.
Since Aaron Rodgers said “R-E-L-A-X” he has a YPA of 9.8, has gone 5-1 as a starter, thrown 20 TD, 2 INT in 6 games.
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) November 10, 2014
He would finish the night with six touchdown passes, 315 passing yards and an equally impressive 11.7 yards per attempt. While fans wanted to see him try and break Packers’ single-game touchdown pass record, Mike McCarthy made the right move to sit him and bring in Matt Flynn for the majority of the second half. Flynn saw more action this season and once again showed why he shouldn’t be the backup ahead of Scott Tolzien. Flynn is slow with his decision-making and velocity, severely limiting anything he could do. It should only be a matter of time before Tolzien surpasses Flynn on the depth chart. Grade: A Running back: Once the offense started attacking Chicago’s secondary and the rout was on, Green Bay shifted away from the running game. As a result, Lacy finished with just 14 carries for 50 yards, but he found other ways to have an impact. His biggest play came on a screen pass where he patiently followed his blocks. He then cut toward the right sideline and broke free for a 56-yard touchdown. James Starks was quiet with five carries for 10 yards, but DuJuan Harris took over in the fourth quarter. It was a flashback to 2012, when Harris showed off his explosiveness bursting through holes. He did it all behind the Packers’ second-string offensive line, finishing with eight carries for 52 yards. This is the type of performance that can help elevate Harris into the Packers’ weekly gameplan when they want to rest Lacy. Grade: B+ Wide receiver/tight end: Green Bay’s wide receiver corps has earned recognition for strong play throughout the season. But now it’s important to recognize their tight ends emerging this week. Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick came through for Rodgers with two touchdown catches in the red zone. Bostick’s return to relevance was welcomed. He was expected to start at tight end entering training camp, but missed time with a slight fracture of his fibula. He then couldn’t get on the field after struggling in practice. Bostick is the most gifted tight end on the roster and could fight his way back into a prominent role in the offense.
Jordy Nelson with his fourth 100-yard game of the season. And it’s the second quarter. — Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) November 10, 2014
Nelson and Cobb certainly came to play as well, while Chicago learned a valuable lesson about leaving Nelson wide open. He showed excellent awareness by getting two feet down on Rodgers’ 40-yard touchdown strike and again contributed as a blocker later in the game. Cobb made a few mistakes—he fumbled inside the Chicago 5-yard line and dropped a deep pass over the middle. But his diving one-handed touchdown grab more than made up for it.
The icing on the cake was Jarrett Boykin kicking the ball away from Pat O’Donnell before the Bears punter even had a chance to boot it away. While Boykin has slipped behind Davante Adams on the WR depth chart, it was great to see him make a play on special teams.
There were concerns heading into the game regarding this group. All-Pro OG Josh Sitton was questionable with a severe toe injury, while fellow OG T.J. Lang was questionable with an ankle sprain. If both players were inactive, it would have forced J.C. Tretter and Lane Taylor into the lineup.
Taylor and Tretter made it into the game, but it wasn’t until the third quarter when the Packers had already secured an easy victory. Sitton and Lang played well through the pain, keeping the interior pocket clear for Rodgers. Jared Allen found some success against LT David Bakhtiari, but Chicago was held without a sack the entire game.
Tretter made his NFL debut after missing the first eight games with a knee injury. He spent time at both left guard and left tackle, showing inexperience and some rust. But it was important to get him game reps and experience, while grooming a versatile lineman who can play anywhere on the line.
No group was facing more scrutiny than the defensive line heading into Sunday’s game. After allowing 172 rushing yards to Mark Ingram and 122 to Matt Forte in Week 4, there were signs of improvement tonight.
Chicago never committed to the run once they got down early, but Forte still finished with a modest 17 carries. He was unable to find many holes. And the star running back was held to just 54 yards and 3.2 yards per carry, his lowest YPC mark since Week 3 versus the Jets. Mike Daniels and Datone Jones did a nice job taking away inside lanes for Forte, allowing the linebackers to wrap up Forte and keep him from breaking big runs.
It was certainly a surprise when Green Bay lined up on defense and Clay Matthews was playing inside. And when Jamari Lattimore was ruled a healthy scratch before the game, fans were confused, but it made more sense upon seeing Matthews’ new position. The Packers have been looking for help at inside linebacker all season and Matthews performed admirably.
It was Matthews’ best game of the season. He seemed to have an easier job reading and reacting to the action in the backfield, quickly slipping past blockers and blowing up plays. While his sack and quarterback hit were nice positives, his presence versus the run was even more appreciated. Green Bay found success moving him inside versus the run and outside on passing situations, taking advantage of his athleticism.
Tramon on Peppers’ speech: “We went out there and did everything he said. It was a really good speech. I wish y’all could have heard it.” — Jason Wilde (@jasonjwilde) November 10, 2014
Julius Peppers made up for his disappearance in Chicago a few weeks ago, showing his old team he had plenty left in the tank. He was a major thorn in Jay Cutler’s side all night—forcing a strip-sack in the second half and deflecting two passes, one leading to an interception. This game clearly meant a lot to Peppers and he delivered.
While Green Bay took its foot off the gas pedal after jumping out to such a large lead, the team’s secondary could have played better this week. They came in knowing Cutler would provide them plenty of turnover opportunities and he did exactly that. Unfortunately, Green Bay dropped multiple interceptions and was fortunate enough to be in a game where it didn’t cost them.
Brandon Marshall had his way with Green Bay’s corners, finishing with eight receptions for 112 yards and a touchdown before he left with an ankle injury. He beat Sam Shields on a double-move to get open down the sideline, then came back to the football after Cutler underthrew it. He then slipped out of a tackle and dashed to the end zone.
Shields and Tramon Williams were effective enough, but did not consistently shut down Chicago’s physical wide receivers.