I was very impressed with just how hard the Bears played in Week 17 and just how hard they tried to beat the Packers and knock them out of the playoff running. What I watched on the coaches’ film this week was about as good of defense as a team could play against a very good Packers offense.
It was your classic black & blue division game.
The Bears knew going in to the game they couldn’t improve their No. 2 seed in the NFC. Still, they played like they had to win the game. It’s a testament to the players and head coach Lovie Smith. I think it was the right thing to do, and in the long run I think it will help Chicago. They left everything on the field at Lambeau and earned a week off. I think they’ll be battle-tested and sharp next time they play.
It would have been a mistake to give some players what would have amounted to two weeks off. I’m sure it would have disappointed the fans. It also would have gone against everything Smith said the day he got the job, that the first priority was to beat the Packers.
I think you can make a mistake giving players too much rest this time of year. I know rest is important, but playing well is more important. They ended up playing very well on the road against a team that was desperate to win. The Packers gave it everything they had, knowing if they lost, they were out. It’s not easy to know you’re already in the tournament and to play that hard.
Credit Smith. Unless they’re playing Tom Brady in the snow, the Bears are as good as it gets on defense in the NFL right now. They’re relatively simple defensively and don’t change a lot, but what they do they do well. The question is whether you can do what you do better than what they do.
Even in a loss, the Bears look like a playoff team to me.
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