7-on-7: Chicago gladly takes what Green Bay gives away

Andy Behrens
September 28, 2010
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OK, so the Bears may have needed a punt return TD, a blocked field goal, 18 flags on their opponent (a couple of which negated Jay Cutler(notes) interceptions), and poor end-game management by the other team's head coach, but, um … a win is a win.

Chicago is, at this moment, the NFC's only undefeated team. It's clearly time to fret about the Bears resting starters in Week 16. Let's toast this team with a few post-MNF observations…

* Neither Green Bay nor Chicago seemed interested in running last night, ever. These teams both feature formidable rush defenses, so that's part of the equation. John Kuhn(notes) and Brandon Jackson(notes) combined for 13 carries; Matt Forte(notes) and Chester Taylor(notes) had 14. Forte averaged less than 3.0 YPC for the third straight game.

* For the second week in a row, Greg Olsen(notes) reached the end zone. All those preseason fears about Mike Martz neglecting the tight end position were, in hindsight, ridiculous. (Points to self). Martz is using all the weapons at his disposal. In Chicago's offense, the running back and tight end might be the two most reliable receivers/route-runners anywhere on the depth chart.

* After the PI penalty on Morgan Burnett(notes) gave the Bears a first-down inside the Green Bay 10, the Pack really needed to let the Bears score quickly, no? Green Bay had 1:44 remaining, a timeout, and an Aaron Rodgers(notes)-led offense. Considering the field position, Robbie Gould(notes) was basically a lock for three points. But here's head coach Mike McCarthy via the Press-Gazette:

“I did not consider letting them score at the end,” McCarthy said. “They’d missed a field goal earlier in the game. It was talked about but that’s not the decision I went with.”

Gould's missed kick was from 49 yards; the game-winner he made was from 19, with just eight seconds on the clock.

* James Jones(notes) would pretty clearly be a No. 1 receiver for a few teams, including the Bears. Monday's game obviously turned on his fumble, but that guy is a talent. You don't often see a wideout move piles of tacklers down the field so routinely.

* Elsewhere, it was a pretty lousy day for bears.

* Devin Aromashodu(notes) was a surprise inactive for Chicago. That guy led his team in targets in opening week, but he's clearly doghouse'd now. It's not just the Week 1 drops, apparently, but also his downfield blocking and limited utility. (Martz: "Devin just plays the outside, so his opportunities are reduced dramatically because of his limited knowledge." Ouch).

Feel free to add your own Monday spin in comments. We now downshift to the usual player notes…

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Ray Rice(notes) apparently has a "significant contusion" on his knee, but there's been no report of ligament damage. Crisis averted. His status for the Pittsburgh game is not yet known, however. Willis McGahee(notes) is the handcuff-with-benefits here, but clearly the matchup isn't ideal.

Jimmy Raye is out as the Niners offensive coordinator, and he's been replaced by quarterbacks coach Mike Johnson(notes). Thus far, Vernon Davis(notes) has been unable to hide his enthusiasm:

"I strongly believe it's a good move, an awesome move." Davis said. "Mike Johnson is a talented young man, and he's hungry."

[…]

"You look at other teams; they take advantage of their talent. We've got a ton of guys. We want to use everybody we can, any way we can."

This change can't possibly be bad news for Davis, Michael Crabtree(notes), Alex Smith or really anyone else. The Niners currently rank No. 31 in the NFL in scoring (12.7 points per game) and No. 20 in total yards (310.3).

It's still early, but there appears to be hope for rookie running back Ryan Mathews(notes) this week. Mathews is expected to return to practice. Following a Monday workout, he had this to say about the injured ankle: "It didn’t hurt. I felt like my normal self." His normal self was a little fumbly in Weeks 1 and 2, and he lost goal line work to Mike Tolbert(notes). Nonetheless, the upcoming home matchup against Arizona is promising.

Denver head coach Josh McDaniels offered a few interesting nuggets on Kyle Orton, a quarterback who's on an unsustainable (but highly tradable) 5,700-yard pace:

"He's being productive, but I tend to think about the quarterback relative to wins and losses, third down and red zone," McDaniels said. "Yesterday, we weren't very good on third down, we weren't very good in the red zone and we lost the game.

"Certainly that's not a reflection solely on Kyle Orton(notes). I thought he did a lot of great things yesterday in the game, and I think he's done a lot of really good things all season long."

Ndamukong Suh(notes) doesn't foresee any more home losses for the Lions, so you'll want to factor that into your rest-of-season forecasts. Quarterback Matthew Stafford(notes) will finally do some light-throwing this week, although he's not expected to play in Week 4. Detroit hopes that Jahvid Best(notes) can play with his toe injury, even though he reportedly couldn't put any pressure on it last Sunday.

Jason Witten(notes) has an MCL sprain, so the bye week arrives at a good time for the Cowboys. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an MRI "revealed no significant damage" to the knee, and Witten believes he'll be ready to go in Week 5.

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Photos via US Presswire

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Postscript

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George Blanda, NFL Hall of Famer, was not principally known for being the first pick in the first fantasy football draft. We realize that. He's a legendary figure for many reasons, but not for his place in fantasy history.

Blanda was the first player to reach 2,000 career points, he played professionally from 1949 to 1975, he led Houston to back-to-back AFL titles, and he once threw seven TD passes in a single game. If there were a Clutch & Intangibles Hall of Fame, Blanda would certainly be an inner-circle member. In 1970, 12 seasons after his first retirement from pro football, he was named the AFC's Player of the Year.

Blanda passed away on Monday at the age of 83. As many of the obituaries have noted, he was, in fact, the No. 1 selection in the first fantasy draft back in 1962. The season he delivered in '61 is one of the greatest in his sport's history; Blanda threw 36 touchdown passes that year, a total that remains tied for the ninth-most of all-time. He occupies a unique place in both the real game and the fantasy version.

RIP, top pick.