http://www.chicagotribune.com/sport...oughts-chicago-bears-20131105,0,6212901.story Some good info from Biggsy, as usual. Enjoy, fellas. 1. The Bears find themselves in a three-way tie atop the NFC North at the halfway point, sitting at 5-3 along with the Packers and Lions. If this season winds up leading the Bears somewhere special, and the postseason would certainly qualify, they will look back on Marc Trestman’s decision to go for it on fourth-and-1 from their own 32-yard line with 7:50 remaining and the Bears leading 24-20. Here is how it was set up. On third down, tight end Martellus Bennett had fought through tacklers to gain eight yards before Morgan Burnett and Datone Jones brought him down within what the officials spotted to be inches of the first-down line. It wasn’t an immediate decision for Trestman, who used a timeout. “I can’t say there was great analytical reasoning involved,” said Trestman, who has the resources of a director of analytics, Mitch Tanney, who was hired by the club during the offseason. “It was a sense that we needed to stay on the field and I felt that we could. I knew that one way or the other I wouldn’t look back and regret the decision that was made.” The call, in the Bears playbook, was Sprint 39 Zeus. The plan was for Matt Forte to go around the left end. Bennett was lined up on the left side of the formation next to tackle eligible Eben Britton. Center Roberto Garza pulled to block Burnett. Fullback Tony Fiammetta picked up linebacker A.J. Hawk as soon as he closed in on Forte in the backfield. Bennett blocked linebacker Nate Palmer on the edge. Britton picked up linebacker Jamari Lattimore and left tackle Jermon Bushrod blocked defensive end Mike Daniels. Forte shook off Hawk and had enough momentum going forward to carry Palmer three yards for the first down. It was the fifth play on what turned out to be an 18-play, 80-yard drive that stripped 8 minutes, 58 seconds off the clock before a 27-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. In plain and simple terms, the Bears marched it down the Packers’ throat. “It’s a gutsy call,” quarterback Josh McCown said. “It’s a testament to what he thinks about our defense. It’s a testament to everything. It’s a huge call. Marty made the play of the game the play before, fighting to get us into position. We got this far away (holding his hand up to shown an inch). (Trestman) is there on the sideline and he is talking to (offensive coordinator) Aaron (Kromer) and he is like, ‘If we can’t make this then we have bigger problems. We’ve got to be able to do this.’ It was a gutsy call by him and the guys just executed it. Matt wouldn’t be denied.” McCown suggests the call showed the faith Trestman had in the defense if the play didn’t work. I tend to look at it from the other end of the spectrum – the coach went for it because he didn’t trust his defense back on the field. The result was the Packers didn’t get the ball back until 50 seconds remained and they were out of timeouts. It was the play the Bears had worked on in practice all week for a third-and-short or fourth-and-short situation. They expected the Packers to load the middle and just as they figured there were nine defenders in the box at the snap. “That fourth-down play, it was a big part of the game,” Garza said. “We had to keep their offense off the field. We talked about everyone doing their job and that was always good enough. That is what we did. It’s fourth and inches, we have to get that. They call it, we haul it.” Said Bushrod: “They are tough to run against up the middle. You saw when we tried to go two tight ends and run the ball, it was hard. Our best bet up the middle would have been QB sneak. That was our game plan run, third-and-short, fourth-and-short. With (B.J.) Raji, (Ryan) Pickett and 76 (Daniels), they stop the run up the middle. It was only an inch but we might not have gotten there. “Honestly, it’s drawn up that way, the back has got to make one defender miss and you’ve got to go get the inch and he got it. Shoot, that won the game for us because the momentum was on our side then. “That last drive, that is what you live for as an offensive lineman. You get tired, man, but you’ve got to hold onto that ball. We did.” 2. McCown was quick to credit someone you might not immediately think of for the success of the play. He singled out strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark and the work he has done since being hired to replace Rusty Jones. “I’ve never seen a group of five guys, plus Eben (Britton), that work out and lift and grind in the weight room like this,” McCown said. “I never have in 12 years. It is cool to see that manifest itself in the game because those guys were pushing on that last drive. That was neat to see.” There were 12 runs and five passes on the drive with no throw bigger than the third-and-6 strike to Brandon Marshall for 11 yards. But it was the running plays that wore down the Packers. “These linemen get in that weight room and they frickin’ work,” McCown said. “I’ve been a part of some teams where it’s country club and you kind of go in and do that (go through the motions). These guys are power cleaning and squatting and doing things to make themselves stronger and it showed out there. That is the coolest thing about it.” 3. Shea McClellin said he had a sense Aaron Rodgers would be rolling to his righton the play that could change the complexion of the race in the NFC North for the remainder of the season. The Packers said after the game that further evaluation of what they called a shoulder injury for Rodgers is needed. He was knocked out of the game on the last play of the game’s opening drive when McClellin corralled him and tackled him into the turf, driving his left shoulder into the ground. “He likes to roll out to his right a lot,” McClellin said. “We knew that coming in. There was a pocket there and I just came back and got the sack.” At first, McClellin had no idea Rodgers was injured on the play and he’s hopeful the former MVP makes an expeditious return to the playing field. “Rodgers is a great player and I wish him a speedy recovery because he is great for game of football,” he said. “Injuries happen. We have a lot of injuries on our team. The next guy has got to step up and adjust.” McClellin finished with three sacks and this was a big game for him, make no mistake about it. Amid a variety of struggles on defense throughout the first half of the season, his slow development has been one of the frustrations. The Bears have gotten old defensively and it’s clear a makeover will be coming this offseason. The Bears badly need the makeover to include McClellin as a young building block from the future and perhaps this will be a sign of things to come for the 19th pick from the 2012 draft. “We’ve definitely felt some pressure on us,” McClellin said. “We needed a game like this where we stepped up. For me I am just trying to get better each and every game. If I have a bad game, I don’t worry about that. If I have a good game, I just put that away and move on to the next game. I need to continually get better, not just in the pass rush but vs. the run.” Hall of Famer Dan Hampton is the only other Bear to ever have three sacks against the Packers. He had 3 1/2 in a 12-10 victory at Soldier Field on Nov. 23, 1986. McClellin has been good against the Packers. He had 1 ½ sacks in the Week 2 meeting at Lambeau Field last season. “That was great to see him get out there and play how he is able to play,” said Julius Peppers, who had a sack and interception and two passes defended. “We just have to keep it rolling.” That’s the question now. Can the defensive line, which had five sacks after totaling only four through the first seven games carry momentum from one week to the next? “It is definitely possible,” McClellin said. “When we start getting sacks that is when we start turning it up a little bit so hopefully this carries on to next week. It should.” 4. McCown knows every time he gets a chance to play, it could be his final shot in the NFL. That is reality for a 34-year-old who has already spent time out of the NFL in each of the last two regular seasons. So, for an opportunity to start at Lambeau Field, his wife came from Charlotte, N.C., with their two sons and his parents made the trip from Texas along with his older brother Randy, a former Texas A&M quarterback, and his two sons. “It feels great on several levels, just team-wise for how big it is for our team,” McCown said. “Personally, it is special.” McCown finished 22 of 41 for 272 yards with two touchdowns. The 23-yard touchdown pass he threw to Brandon Marshall required some nifty maneuvering in the pocket after Mike Neal whipped right tackle Jordan Mills and was closing in on a sack. McCown more or less twisted away and lobbed the ball toward Marshall, who made a great play with Tramon Williams all over him, to haul in the pass. The 6-yard touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery in the third quarter was a well-thrown ball with Davon House in tight coverage. McCown placed the ball high where it needed to be. “It would be hard to fund one (win) better than this,” said McCown when asked where it ranked in his career. “But they are all special at every level from back at high school to Sam Houston to now. This is really neat.” If McCown doesn’t play again this season, he’s put plenty on tape that will secure him a job in the NFL next season. There are teams that would do far better with him as their starter. Who knows what the future holds? For now, McCown isn’t considering it. 5. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported before the game that Jay Cutler “plans to return” for Sunday’s game against the Lions at Soldier Field. That is what teammate Brandon Marshall has been preaching all along and Cutler said he would push for that last week. But the Bears have not had a discussion about Cutler’s potential availability for the game yet. It’s a short week to prepare. Cutler has yet to practice since being injured at Washington and the original timetable, as we all know, was a re-evaluation of the situation after four weeks. It was worth a shot asking McCown who will start against the Lions. “Jay is the leader of our team and he is our starter,” McCown replied. “I’ll play if he’s not healthy.” Said left tackle Jermon Bushrod: “It’s all depending on how his body feels.” The good news for the Bears is the offense has proven it can score with McCown in the game. The Bears have put up 51 points in six quarters with him playing. 6. Big plays on special teams can really shift momentum in a ballgame and the Bears managed to overcome two disastrous plays. First, Jamari Lattimore blocked an Adam Podlesh punt in the first quarter. He blew past Dante Rosario, who was lined up as the left tackle in the formation. Rosario appeared to block a zone protection when he should have been in a man protection scheme. It was a terrible breakdown that gave the Packers the ball on the Bears’ 32-yard line where they scored on a one-play drive – a 32-yard James Starks run. Then, Lattimore made a big play again when Green Bay called an onside kick after Eddie Lacy’s one-yard touchdown run at the start of the third quarter. Mason Crosby got a nice, high bounce and linebackers Blake Costanzo and Larry Grant were outnumbered. Grant took a false step as he didn’t read the onside kick was coming. Costanzo got knocked out of the play. The Packers went on to score a field goal with the possession. “It was a good kick,” Costanzo said. “They just executed. I went up for it and got my legs taken out and then the ball was on the ground. I knew by the way he went to the ball so we weren’t surprised. They just made a play. It’s as simple as that.” Good special teams units don’t give up plays like these, especially two in one game. The Packers burned the Bears for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the Week 2 meeting at Lambeau Field last season. “I hope we burn this special teams tape,” Costanzo said. “We have been underachieving all year. We have to step our game up and help our team win because we obviously didn’t do that tonight.” 7. Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright were maligned following the loss at Washington and it will be interesting to see how their play is reviewed after the Packers rolled up 199 yards rushing with rookie Eddie Lacy gaining 150 on 22 carries. James Starks carried six times for 40 yards and Aaron Rodgers had a nine-yard scramble. Going all the way back to 1980, it was the 24th time the Bears have allowed 199 yards rushing or more. This marked just the second time they have won a game when the run defense, which now ranks 29th in the NFL (127.5 yards per game), has surrendered that many yards. Conte and Wright were guilty of some poor angles to the ball but when they’re being relied on to make stops on Lacy and Starks, it’s a sign the front seven has broken down on the play as well. I talked to defensive backs coach Jon Hoke on Saturday about the play of the safeties. He said Conte has graded out tops among the defensive backs so far this season, something you wouldn’t guess based on reaction to his work of late. “Really, going into the Washington game he had been playing very consistent football,” Hoke said. “He had a bad day. Obviously, we did a poor job of getting him ready because he is a reflection of how we get him prepared. And so obviously I didn’t do a good job of preparing him. He’s a better player than that game showed and going into the game he had by far been our most consistent.” Is it a matter of confidence at this point for Conte? “No,” Hoke replied. “Confidence is everybody’s issue. It’s your issue. It’s my issue. If you’re not confident to write a story, it’s probably not going to be a very good story. Confidence is a lot, especially in pro sports. Being in position, doing his job, Chris has been our most consistent.” 8. The rest provided by the week off wound up benefitting cornerback Charles Tillman, who started and finished the game. He’s been hobbled by a right knee injury but was out there and got credit for five tackles and a forced fumble on a carry by James Starks when the ball went out of bounds. I asked defensive backs coach Jon Hoke if Tillman’s lack of speed – he hasn’t looked the same with the knee injury – has forced the defense to adjust in the secondary with some of the calls or schemes. “It hasn’t really shown up where he hasn’t been fast,” Hoke said. “It’s not like anyone has run right by him. He has misjudged a ball. But it hasn’t been like he has just been out run. So, no we have kept things pretty much the same as they have been. What we haven’t been is we haven’t been as disciplined as we need to be and again, that starts with me, making sure they are disciplined in what they do.” Is he suggesting Tillman hasn’t been disciplined? “It’s been a different guy every other play,” Hoke answered. “It could be Tim Jennings a play, it could be Charles a play and that is on me to make sure we are disciplined. It’s not that they are doing anything way outside the program, they’re just off on their technique a little bit or just not exact in their alignment.” That is interesting because the Bears are playing the same defense these players are accustomed to, one they have thrived in during recent seasons. “It’s not new,” Hoke said. “But you know what? There are different words. There are different coaches. Schematically, it is pretty much the same but it is different a little bit. At the end of the day, we have not been as disciplined as we need to be.” I would submit Tillman is slowing down and that is showing up, but Hoke does not agree. There will be a heck of a test coming Sunday when the Lions visit Soldier Field with Calvin Johnson. It will be interesting to see what kind of practice work Tillman does during a short week of preparation. 9. Rookie Khaseem Greene was credited with four tackles in his first action. He didn’t start the game as the Bears played with nickel personnel on the entire first drive. The loss of Aaron Rodgers led to a shift in strategy by the Packers and that created a lot of opportunities for Greene. Obviously, the linebackers aren’t going to be pleased with a game in which the defense surrendered 199 yards rushing. “It felt good to just be out there playing defense, running and hitting a little bit,” said Greene, who played weak side in the base defense and got one defensive snap in the last game against the Redskins. “It wasn’t different. I guess just this time I was able to be out there more. We worked so hard during the week to prepare, I felt like I was ready when I went out there. “I can build off this. I am not perfect. I made a ton of mistakes. But the thing we say around here is if you make a mistake, make it full speed.” 10. There was an interesting story by Jason Wilde at ESPN Milwaukee last week. He reviewed how Packers general manager Ted Thompson has built the roster and what jumped out most was that 26 players, nearly one-half of the roster, entered the NFL as a sixth- or seventh-round pick or as an undrafted free agent. That shows why general managers place high value on even late-round selections. The Packers have only 14 players were taken in the first three rounds of the draft. 10 a. If you can quietly put up 974 yards offense in the first eight games, Matt Forte has managed to do that. He rushed for 125 yards on a season-high 24 carries and caught five passes for 54 yards. Forte has 658 yards rushing and 316 yards receiving. That puts him on pace to rush for 1,316 yards (career high is 1,238 in 2008 as a rookie) and 632 yards receiving. Forte is also on pace for 80 receptions. 10 b. Smart play by Forte to remain in bounds at the end of a 15-yard run with 3:32 remaining in the game. He reached the Packers’ 24-yard line and basically gave himself up to ensure he remained in and the clock continued to run. The next play was snapped with 2:54 remaining. 10 c. The most jacked up the Bears sideline got all night might have been when running back Michael Bush ran through a tackle attempt by linebacker A.J. Hawk, knocking Hawk’s helmet off in the process. Players were jumping on the sideline. 10 d. It was interesting Bears coach Marc Trestman elected to defer to begin the game after winning the coin toss. That put his defense on the field first against Aaron Rodgers. The Bears have done the same thing in all five games they have won the coin toss, including games vs. the Redskins, Giants, Lions and Vikings. The Packers got a field goal on the opening drive, the fifth straight game they have scored on their opening possession. 10 e. The Bears entered as the second-least penalized team in the NFL and had four penalties for 45 yards. The Packers had no penalties marked off against them, the first time that has happened for Green Bay since a Dec. 25, 2011 meeting against the Bears at Lambeau Field. 10 f. The Bears likely will make the signing of defensive tackle Jay Ratliff official on Tuesday. He could take the roster spot of one of the undrafted tackles – Christian Tupou or Zach Minter. Don’t expect Ratliff to suit up for a game for at least a couple weeks.