The Green Bay Packers… or, more accurately, the Green Bay Packers defense.
On a night when we were looking for the Packers offense to reassert itself and dominate, they played so-so, while the defense befuddled, throttled and pounded the Chicago Bears into submission by a score of 23-10.
The Packers actually deviated from their usual game plan of chuck it deep as often as possible, pass on every down and leave your guys exposed in coverage.
On offense, they ran the ball early and more often than they have in a long time. Cedric Benson actually finished with 21 carries for 80 yards and kept the Bears defense back on their heals. The running game made the play-action pass relevant, which is something that was a joke to opposing defenses for a while.
Aaron Rodgers continued what we’re going to call a slow start, however. He threw for 219, a TD and a pick. Rodgers looked fine delivering the ball, but he had trouble getting rid of it, taking five sacks on the evening.
Remember when we used to talk about Rodgers holding the ball too long? Well, that Aaron Rodgers was playing quarterback for the Packers Thursday night.
That isn’t to excuse the offensive line. Marshall Newhouse got used on a few occasions, but let’s get to brass tacks.
This game was won by two things.
First, the fake field goal call that resulted in a Tom Crabtree touchdown.
Brilliant call! Brilliant execution!
The Packers haven’t called a fake anything since Forrest Gregg was coach. Mike McCarthy — after all of his buffoonery last week — gets credit for not only devising a great game plan, but having the stones to call that fake with six minutes left in the second quarter up 3-0.
If it would have backfired? We’d be lambasting him. It didn’t, so we’re lauding him.
The second factor was the Packers defense killing Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
Although it’s obvious they still can’t tackle anyone properly or stop the run effectively, Dom Capers and crew showed something on Thursday — we will rush you, we will be relentless and we will pound your quarterback into the turf.
Why they didn’t do that against the 49ers’ second-rate line, we’re really not sure.
The Packers had seven sacks in the game. Cutler, the chinless wonder, was under 100 yards passing in the fourth quarter. He finished with 126 yards, a TD and four picks.
The Bears vaunted receiver — oh, good luck jamming our receivers, they’re so big and imposing! — Brandon Marshall had two catches for 24. He got them both in garbage time.
The pass rush came from all angles.
Clay Matthews continued his early-season dominance with 3.5 sacks, giving him six through two games. In his return from a one-game suspension, Erik Walden applied some much-needed pressure from the other side. Even the formerly clueless-looking Jerel Worthy got in on the act with a sack.
For the most part, that pressure led to the picks.
With the exception of Cutler’s first interception, someone from the Packers was in Cutler’s face and laid him out after each of the following three picks. Tramon Williams was the primary beneficiary, collecting two of Cutler’s failed tosses. He also shut Marshall the fuck down.
When it was all said and done, we knew this.
The Packers defense may not be the joke of a unit they were in 2011. In fact, they proved they can step up and dominate a game when the offense isn’t putting up 30-plus points.
Similarly, it’s nice to know Mike McCarthy can adjust his game plan to take advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses. Same goes for Dom Capers.
Is it time to start worrying about where the offense and Rodgers’ head is at?
They’ve performed well below last season’s standards through two games.
The important thing right now is this, though. The Packers aren’t 0-2. They’re not two games behind the Bears in the division. And, at the end of the weekend, they’ll likely be in a second-place tie with both Chicago and Detroit, who faces San Francisco on Sunday.
The Vikings travel to Indy, where they just might win. But hell, we all know those assholes are non-factors regardless of whether they go 2-0.
So, things are looking up.
Guess who’s back!