How ‘self-inflicted wounds' cost Bears' defense vs. Packers


GREEN BAY, Wisc. – In their Week 1 upset of the San Francisco 49ers, the Bears leaned on Matt Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. (hustle, intensity, takeaways, and smart football) principle to help them slow down Trey Lance and Kyle Shanahan’s vaunted offensive attack.

Those Bears were nowhere to be found Sunday night in Green Bay. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon combined for 193 yards on 33 carries in the Packers’ 27-10 trucking of the Bears at Lambeau Field.

Everyone knew the Packers were going to lean on their two-headed running back monster Sunday night. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur promised more touches for Jones after the Packers’ Week 1 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

The Bears knew it was coming. They were powerless to stop it.

Why? You can’t stop what you can’t tackle.

Jones forced 13 missed tackles on 18 touches on the night, per Pro Football Focus. He had 85 yards after contact and 33 yards after the catch. Per PFF, the Bears had 23 instances Sunday night where they made first contact but didn’t make the tackle.

That sums up the Bears’ defensive effort Sunday night.

“It’s frustrating,” safety Eddie Jackson said after the loss. “They did good stuff, they a good team. A lot of that stuff was self-inflicted wounds. We shot ourselves in the foot. We wanted to come out and start fast. That’s something we wasn’t’ able to do. That’s something we wish we could have back but we just got to live with that bad taste in our mouth and continue to come out and start fast.”

Aaron Rodgers gets most of the attention when game planning for the Packers’ offense. He’s a Hall-of-Fame quarterback who is one of the best to play the game.

The Packers played like they hardly needed Rodgers at all Sunday night. The 38-year-old went 19-for-25 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. The Packers’ R.P.O. game gave the Bears’ defense fits all night. The defenders in the back seven were a step slow, giving Rodgers easy openings to move the chains when the Packers needed.

But, for the most part, the night belonged to Jones, Dillon, and the Bears’ inability to stop the run. On the rare occasions they didn’t get gashed by Jones and put the Packers behind the sticks, the Bears’ front four was able to pressure Rodgers and get off the field. Trevis Gipson had two sacks, and Robert Quinn had one.

Those opportunities were few and far between Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

“A lot of the things they had were either in the run game or some R.P.O. throws, some boots, a lot of that really came off the run,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “We have to do better as a collective unit stopping the run.

“Once we stopped the run, I feel like the pass wouldn’t be as heavy. I feel like if we would have eliminated the run, the pass game wouldn’t been that difficult. It was on us.”

The Bears will have a long week of practice ahead. Monday’s film review won’t be pretty. The discipline and fundamentals that helped them beat the 49ers went missing Sunday night in Green Bay.

They are going to have to spend the next week relearning the H.I.T.S. principle. Because if the shoddy tackling that reared its head in Green Bay sticks around, it could get late early for the 2022 Bears.

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