The Green Bay Packers managed to bring home the NFC North title, despite winning only eight games, with a 33-28 win over the Chicago Bears.
It was gut wrenching to watch, but the good guys won in the end. Here are six more thoughts on the game. Yes, you get a bonus one this week!
We still don’t know what happened to the offensive line
The Packers ground out a very solid 160 yards rushing on Sunday. A good chunk of that is thanks to a 41-yard run by James Starks, though. Take that out of the equation and the Packers have 119 yards and the yards per carry go from 4.7 to 3.6. After a solid first half, Eddie Lacy was bottled up in the second. He finished with 21 for 66, which is 3.1 per carry. The offensive line has been good if not great at run blocking this season. The Bears have the worst run defense in the NFL. Yet, the offensive line opened up nary a hole in the second half. Lacy was continuously getting hit at and behind the line. If the Packers can’t figure that out, they’ve got no chance of beating San Francisco next week.
Why M.D. Jennings over Sean Richardson?
Jennings has been bad all season long. Last week, the Packers replaced him with Sean Richardson during the game. Despite that, they started Jennings against the Bears. Jennings wound up with six tackles, but the Packers ended up turning to Richardson again in the second half. Let’s be honest, neither of these guys are going to overwhelm anyone, but at least Richardson can lay the wood. It’s time to put him in the starting lineup. And then draft a capable safety high in the 2014 draft.
There are bad players and then there are guys who underperform
We’re looking at you Morgan Burnett. And you B.J. Raji. Unlike a guy like Jennings, these guys have talent. Both of them turned in a turd of a season, though. Burnett got a big-money extension in the offseason. All he did was regress. Burnett finished with 96 tackles and zero interceptions on the season. In addition to his inability to create turnovers, Burnett was also part of the Packers’ season-long tackling problem. Raji, on the other hand, was playing for a contract this year. He actually showed up on the stat sheet on Sunday for a change, with two tackles. However, Raji finished the season with just 17 tackles and no sacks. Do you ever remember Raji being a force at any point in any game this season? We don’t. The Burnett extension is starting to look like a mistake and Raji, well, he can move on.
Great work, Chris Conte!
We were talking about what a turd Bears safety Chris Conte was after he made that end zone interception in the first quarter. And hey, nice play. You read it. Not that Conte was a turd because he intercepted Aaron Rodgers. It’s just that he’s not a good player. But the sun shines on a dog’s ass once in a while. Until… the Packers final touchdown. The reason Randall Cobb was so wide open was because Conte sat down at the first down marker. He just stopped right there. Cobb kept running and because the Bears were in one-on-one coverage — touchdown. If you need a scapegoat, Bears fans, it’s definitely Chris Conte.
Tramon Williams and Sam Shields are the defense’s best
The Packers defense has been awful this season, with the exception of these two guys. Sam Shields is out there playing for a contract. He finished the season with 61 tackles, four INTs and 17 passes defended. Shields is our defensive MVP and a borderline shutdown corner. Pay the man. Williams, meanwhile, started slow. He finished like a boss, though. You know your defense is pretty terrible when the best tackler on the team is a cornerback. Williams was that again on Sunday, leading the team with six tackles. He’s one of the few guys who’s actually in position and fundamentally sound. Williams finished the year with 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, three INTs, 11 passes defended and two forced fumbles. There was speculation that Williams might be released in the offseason because he’s owed $7.5 million next year. The Packers need to find a way to keep Williams around.
And here’s one more for the road…
First-round draft picks are having zero impact
The most glaring example of this is 2012 first-round pick Nick Perry. The Packers were without Clay Matthews on Sunday, so clearly Perry will be in the starting lineup, right? Nope. The Packers went with converted defensive end Mike Neal and undrafted rookie Andy Mulumba at outside linebacker instead. Perry did get on the field, but he was out of position more than he was in it. On the season, Perry had 28 tackles and four sacks. How about this year’s first-round pick Datone Jones? Eleven tackles and 3.5 sacks. The Packers 2011 first-round pick, Derek Sherrod hasn’t been able to get on the field. The 2010 first-round pick, Bryan Bulaga, spent the season on injured reserve. Who does he replace in the starting lineup when he returns? Certainly not David Bakhtiari. He’ll probably have to battle Don Barclay for a starting spot at right tackle. The last time Ted got an impact player in the first round was 2009, when he grabbed Clay Matthews. We’re not going to throw out the bust label just yet, but the sheen has gone off the “Ted Thompson: Draft Master” moniker. When a former first-round pick can’t start over an undrafted rookie, that’s a problem.