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BEARS DOWN: Packers Win NFC North

LYRICS:

Bears down, We beat the Bears, it’s another Packers victory.
Bears down, We beat the Bears, never won a fight so easily.
With Aaron Rodgers in formation, we captivate the nation.
Bears down, we beat the Bears, and let them know why WE’RE wearing the crown.
We’re the ones who annoy Illinois, We beat the Bears, Bears down.

Some takeaways from today’s division-clinching game:

1. It’s terrifying to hear Mike McCarthy say, “We’re not changing our kicker, so you can write that down right now. [Crosby's] our guy.”

We’ve reached a point where I trust Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy unconditionally to assemble, train, and prepare the optimal football roster. They’ve been too successful for too long now to believe they’re anything but exceptional at their jobs.

That being said, I’m puzzled by the loyalty to Crosby. I know that there aren’t exactly hordes of elite kickers sitting at home collecting dust right now, but Crosby missed from 43 and 41 today. The miss from 43 would not have been good if the uprights extended the entire width of the field. He’s missed kicks in eight straight games. It’s reached a point where I want the Packers to go for it or punt 100% of the time.

2. That punt return lateral play was…puzzling.

I try my best to judge process over outcome. Obviously, the execution of the play was disastrous for Green Bay. I’m sure the coaching staff saw something on film that led them to believe the Bears were susceptible. An “eff you” exclamation point on the division title would have been phenomenal.

But, the play happened with a little over eight minutes left. Barring a turnover, the game was essentially finished. If the Packers had run into the line three times and punted the ball away, the Bears would have had about six minutes to get a touchdown, a two-point conversion, and a field goal. An onside kick or a Packers three-and-out in between would have been necessary.

Save that play for a time you need it.

3. Did anybody have James Jones leading the Packers in touchdowns this season?

No.

He had three today and has 12 on the year.

If everybody is ever all healthy at the same time, watch out for this offense.

4. Realize what Jones is doing now when hoping to get rid of Jermichael Finley.

James Jones has had a lot of killer drops in his career, but he’s become Aaron Rodgers’ favorite red zone target this season.

Hall of Famer and perhaps the best local beat writer alive Bob McGinn wrote this morning that Finley is likely through in Green Bay after this season.

His drops, some of his quotes, and his agent’s questioning Aaron Rodgers’ leadership have certainly been frustrating but I’m not so sure that he’s not salvageable. He had five catches for 61 yards today and drew a pass interference flag in the end zone that set up a Packers touchdown.

McGinn cited a scout who ranked Finley as the 22nd most effective tight end in the league this season. However, there might only be two or three others at the position who could match the athleticism of Finley’s 31-yard reception in the fourth quarter, which came when he was covered by a linebacker and a safety.

I trust McGinn’s sources and I trust Thompson and McCarthy to make the right move, but Finley has been a huge net positive over the last month. I don’t think I’d want to get rid of him if he plays the rest of the season like he’s played the last few days.

5. Huge performance from the defense today.

The unit performs at a completely different level with Clay Matthews in the game. He gets to the quarterback and commands extra blocking attention that enables his teammates to do the same.

Green Bay’s D really only gave up 10 points today–three came as a result of the special teams fumble.

The Bears generated less than 200 yards of offense. They were 0/10 on third and fourth down and couldn’t muster any offense in the second half.

Hope we see this type of performance in the playoffs.

What does everybody else think?


Twitter @sportsrapport

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