Packers @ Bears
Final Score: Packers 28, Bears 19
Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)
Death, taxes, and Aaron Rodgers beating the Bears in a heart-breaking fashion–some things never change. The Bears jumped to a quick 10-0 lead thanks to a 40-yard field goal from Cairo Santos and a 55-yard touchdown run by Justin Fields. The Packers responded in the second quarter with a 24-yard Mason Crosby field goal. The Bears kept rolling, finding the endzone again thanks to a 7-yd run by David Montgomery. It actually looked like this game might be different at this point. Green Bay was struggling, and the half was quickly coming to an end. With 17 seconds left, the Packers faced a fourth down in easy field goal range. They decided to go for it, and Aaron Rodgers found Christian Watson–who else–for a 17-yard touchdown strike. It was 16-10 at halftime with the Packers receiving the ball after the break. The third quarter was mostly quiet, starting with three punts before the Bears put up another field goal and took a 19-10 lead into the fourth quarter. I’m sure you’ve seen this movie before. The Packers went on an 82-yard drive capped off by a 21-yard AJ Dillon run to make it 19-17. Chicago stalled, and the Packers went on a 56-yard field goal drive to take the 20-19 lead with 4:49 left. The Bears took the ball into Green Bay territory before a Justin Fields interception brought the drive to a screeching halt. Green Bay found the endzone in three plays ending in a 46-yard touchdown run by Christian Watson. The two-point conversion was successful, and the game ended soon after at 28-19. Here’s what I saw today.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers: 18/31, 182 Yards, TD | 3 Carries, 4 Yards
Aaron Rodgers played well enough, but it’s clear this team has little confidence right now. Despite facing a non-existent pass rush from Chicago, Rodgers still struggled to find receivers, and he was even off-target a few times on what could have been easy throws. Rodgers threw a hilariously bad short pass intended for Randall Cobb in the second half, and it looked like both were stupified after the play; this isn’t what we are used to from the 4-time MVP. I think it ultimately comes down to the weapons and the lack of a true alpha here, as well as an aging quarterback who is close to the end. Christian Watson is emerging as a big play threat, but I don’t see him as a true number-one receiver. He is more of a deep threat and an explosive play waiting to happen. I think Rodgers will finish out this season and take a long look at retirement.
AJ Dillon: 18 Carries, 93 Yards, TD | 3 Targets, 3 Receptions, 26 Yards
Aaron Jones: 9 Carries, 26 Yards | 5 Targets, 5 Receptions, 24 Yards
Patrick Taylor: 1 Carry, 6 Yards
Aaron Jones started the game and this seemed like a recipe for a big day. The Bears’ defense has struggled, they’ve traded away their best pieces, and they are in a dead-end season just waiting for the end. Jones looked good on his first two touches before losses on the next two–more thanks to unfortunate play-calling than anything else. Jones left the game early with a shin injury, and the Packers played it safe. He eventually returned but was banged up again soon after and that was it. This looked like a great matchup and Jones still looks like a great weapon. It just didn’t work out today.
AJ Dillon ate today thanks in part to Jones’ injury. He looked strong and his best run of the day was his 21-yard touchdown. Dillon ran the ball to the outside and had good blocking from Sammy Watkins to help set the edge. He was met by a defender but stiff-armed him into irrelevance. Dillon is good enough to take the lead in this backfield, and I could see the Packers resting a banged-up Jones with a capable backfield mate ready to go. Dillon is an excellent play if Jones is out or limited.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Christian Watson: 1 Carry, 46 Yards, TD | 6 Targets, 3 Receptions, 48 Yards, TD
Allen Lazard: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 67 Yards
Robert Tonyan: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 10 Yards
Samori Toure: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 7 Yards
Marcedes Lewis: 1 Target
Randall Cobb: 4 Targets
Josiah Deguara: 1 Target
Christian Watson keeps it going in week 13 with another pair of scores and another day that will make fans ask if he is the next big thing. Watson is fast and explosive once he has the ball in his hands. He found space in the endzone and made a great catch on his first touchdown right before halftime. Watson almost had another long touchdown, but Rodgers underthrew it and it resulted in a pass interference call. Packers fans will be happy, but Watson could have had even more. On his run, Watson burst to the outside and followed a great block to run free. He is fun in space and hard to keep up with for opposing defenses. The weakness for Watson–in my opinion–is actually getting to the point where he can catch the ball. He still seems raw in route running and breaking free from tight coverage. These are things that can improve, but they are the reasons I am still a bit hesitant about the Watson hype in the long term. Still, Watson is eating right now and is an easy start for any fantasy team.
Allen Lazard was the volume guy today, working to keep the chains moving. Lazard is a good second option in a so-so offense and not much more. Still, he does have use to the Packers. Just don’t count on that breakout ever happening.
Justin Fields: 20/25, 254 Yards, 2 INT | 6 Carries, 71 Yards, TD
Justin Fields was well on his way to the best game of his career before things fell apart a bit at the end. Fields was throwing a good ball, completing eleven straight passes at one point and ultimately showing he could play without just running the ball 27 times. There were short quick throws and deep shots making the Bears look like a competent passing offense. On his first pass, Fields found Equanimeous St. Brown for 25 yards, weaving the ball between two defenders. His next pass was a bad miss to Cole Kmet, but then he got hot. His second drive saw a sideline pass to Kmet for a first down followed by his big touchdown run. His third drive included a few nice passes–and one bad missed screen to be fair. The big highlight for me, personally, was the deep-passing game. Fields was a great deep-ball passer in college and I’ve been waiting t see it materialize in Chicago. On the Bears’ fourth drive, Fields found ESB for a 56-yard pass leading to a touchdown on the next play. Later, he found N’Keal Harry for another big strike.
If Fields is capable of this with guys like ESB and Harry, imagine what he could do with a full cast and a true number one? I’ve always loved the rushing, but seeing the passing develop today was a big win. The mistakes today were a couple of missed passes, and I find that Fields is still capable of a few ‘why did he throw that?’ decisions each game. They are getting fewer and farther between, but they aren’t gone yet. On Fields’ first interception, it looked like he threw the ball too late. The defender also made a great read on the play and the announcers blamed the wide receiver, so I wasn’t too upset. The second interception came in desperation time and looked like a pass Fields never should have attempted. He threw the ball late and his receiver had no chance. All this being said, things are still moving in the right direction and Fields could be a top quarterback next season.
David Montgomery: 14 Carries, 61 Yards, TD | 5 Targets, 4 Receptions, 6 Yards
Darrynton Evans: 3 Carries, 21 Yards
David Montgomery was the workhorse today, and he was miles ahead of anything else in this backfield with Khalil Herbert still out. Montgomery runs hard and fights for every yard he can get. He usually eats up some passing work as well, but there wasn’t much room to be had today. Montgomery will continue to be a great option here as long as Herbert is out. Long term, I don’t see a reason to keep him in the lead role as Herbert strikes me as the better runner.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Equanimeous St. Brown: 1 Carry, 1 Yard | 4 Targets, 3 Receptions, 85 Yards
Velus Jones Jr.: 1 Carry, 1 Yard
Cole Kmet: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 72 Yards
N’Keal Harry: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 49 Yards
Chase Claypool: 6 Targets, 5 Receptions, 28 Yards, 1 Fumble (Lost)
Dante Pettis: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 14 Yards
Chase Claypool was on the verge of a bigger day, but he was in and out of the game with a minor knee injury. Like Aaron Jones, Claypool was in and out of the game and looked limited after the fact–despite his reappearances into the game. Claypool caught five of his six passes–the one miss being an off-target pass from Fields on a screen play. The only bad moment for Claypool was a fumble at the end of a 15-yard catch. I imagine an offense where Claypool and Mooney–or WR1 to be added later–are catching the deep balls that went to other teammates today. Claypool is a name I am watching, but definitely not one I am counting on right now.
Cole Kmet ate today, and he looked like a poor man’s Travis Kelce. He was frequently getting open, and he was great at the catch point. Like Chase Claypool, Kmet’s one miss was an off-target throw from the quarterback. Otherwise, Kmet was great. He made a sideline catch on the second drive and just kept his feet in for a nice gain. Later, he found space over the middle between defenders for a 20-yard gain. Kmet was instrumental late as the Bears tried to come back from a 20-19 deficit and he saw a few passes in closing time. Kmet-like Claypool and Mooney–feels like a valuable weapon if the Bears can bring in a true number one to set the stage.
N’Keal Harry made an excellent catch on his one pass. He was running a deep route and Fields let it rip. Harry adjusted well at the catch point and pulled in the ball over his defender.
Equanimeous St. Brown made a few nice catches as well, including a 56-yard gain on the team’s fourth drive. Fields hit ESB in stride for the huge gain setting up a touchdown on the next play. ESB is a useful player and a great depth piece on the team.