SportsMonday: Identifying The Culprits

It was a last hurrah.

The conclusion of the Aaron Rodgers era is coming fast, and while of course he had to kick the Bears and their fans in the gut at least one more time, the guy will not be around to torment us forever. The end might not be nigh but it will get here faster now that we are in the Mack era. And when it arrives, won't it be awesome not to have to hear any more about how incredible he is?

I should say that conclusion of an era is probably coming faster. Unless the coaches suck and the players don't play better than they did in the second half last night.

Now is the time to vent about that 30 minutes of football. I don't want to hear about any goddamned linings around the Bears' 24-23 loss at Green Bay on Sunday night for at least 48 hours. It was a crushing and incredibly frustrating game. Let's identify the scapegoats most worthy of our scorn.

The defense, led by an experienced coordinator and many returning, at least somewhat talented players, deserves the vast majority of the blame.

Hey defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, what the hell happened in the second half? Sure, the Packers sped things up, made sure Rodgers was releasing passes faster than he had at critical times in the first half. But the Bears also blew up several plays quickly in the first two quarters and then did nothing of the sort after the break.

And then as the half went on, Rodgers held the ball longer more frequently and never paid the price.

The Bears defense failed to put this game away despite facing a gimpy quarterback whose play-making options were severely limited. How the hell did that happen? How the hell did you not send six, seven, eight guys if need be to hit this guy some more? This is not complicated.

Did you let the crushingly stupid "prevent defense" mindset creep into your brain? Because that's what it felt like.

One critical factor seemed to be a lack of conditioning. The Bears ran a half-assed training camp in terms of getting their starters any experience practicing football skills against live competition. But was it also half-assed in terms of fundamental conditioning? Because it seemed apparent early on in drive after drive in the second half that this team was out of gas.

I say "early on" knowing that even well-conditioned teams wear down as drives go on through the third and fourth quarters. I'm not going to slam guys, especially early in the season, if that is what is happening.

But the Bears had no jump on virtually any plays even early in drives after the intermission. Virtually every player in this unit deserved heat for screwing something up but special vitriol must be saved for the secondary.

Kyle Fuller and his $14 million a year salary didn't just miss the interception late in the fourth quarter that would have put the game away, it was as though he was trying to push the ball away from himself rather than pulling it in.

Fellow cornerback Prince Amukamara has what are believed to be the worst hands in the NFL after posting zero picks in 2017 and only one in '16, but Fuller, who dropped six possible interceptions in 2017 versus only two caught, is apparently determined to give Amukamara a run for his money for that honor.

On the final touchdown play, safety Eddie Jackson was right there with Randall Cobb as Rodgers wound up to throw it to him. Jackson needed to contest the pass but mostly he needed to make sure Cobb went to ground if he caught it.

Instead Jackson dove and made a pathetically futile swipe at the ball as it zipped past him into Cobb's hands. Not only did the Packers have a first down, but Cobb was also off to the races and didn't stop until he crossed the goal line. Oh and fellow safety Adrian Amos sucked as well but I'm not going to break that down here and now.

The offense wasn't much better for long stretches but the offense was led by a first-time head coach calling NFL plays for only the sixth time (after doing it as Kansas City's offensive coordinator for five games at the end of last year). The quarterback, who clearly could have made more plays but who also did a great job stepping up in the pocket all night long, did more than well enough.

The only excuse for the defense would have been if the offense had made big mistakes giving the Packers shorts fields with which to work. That didn't happen. The Packers had to go a long way every time they scored and they did that against Fangio's crushing failure of a unit.

Stay away from me for a while.


Jim "Coach" Coffman welcomes your comments - in about 48 hours.

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