Studs and duds from Bears’ brutal 24-14 loss to Packers

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Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers came into Soldier Field and had their way with the Chicago Bears, beating them 24-14. It’s a tale as old as time as Rodgers gets his 21st victory against the Bears, throwing two touchdowns and running in another.

On the other side, rookie Justin Fields had his ups and downs against the Packers defense, throwing his first career touchdown at home, but was also picked off on a play that likely should not have counted due to a missed penalty. Fields was also sacked four times on the day.

This game went beyond the quarterbacks though, with some players stepping up to the big stage while others fell flat. Here are the studs and duds from Sunday’s divisional loss.

STUD: RB Khalil Herbert

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

With David Montgomery and Damien Williams both out this week, the backfield was left all to Khalil Herbert, and he did not waste his opportunity to shine. The rookie back out of Virginia Tech was the lone standout performer on offense, rushing 19 times for 97 yards and a touchdown. He also had two catches for 15 yards. Herbert displayed excellent vision on many runs and bounced off tacklers quite a few times to move the ball for the Bears. With Williams likely coming back next week after being put on the COVID-19 list, it will be interesting to see how many touches Herbert gets going forward. But make no mistake, Herbert has earned more playing time after this performance.

DUD: S Tashaun Gipson

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Since coming back from injury last week, Tashaun Gipson has struggled at the most inopportune times. He’s not tackling well and it showed up in a big way during the game. In the third quarter, Rodgers dumped the ball off to Aaron Jones in the redzone and Gipson had him dead to rights. But the safety weakly dove at the running back’s legs to miss, leading to the easy score. It was the most egregious of his misses, but he’s had a few on the day. With the offensive weapons the Packers have, those plays can’t happen and he could see his playing time limited going forward.

STUD: TE Cole Kmet

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We’ve been waiting for such a long time for Cole Kmet to get involved in the offensive gameplan and it finally happened on Sunday. Kmet caught four passes for 49 yards, a career high. He made an impressive leaping grab to help set up a touchdown in the fourth quarter and was a force in the middle of the field at times throughout the day. It was an encouraging sign for the second-year tight end, who hopefully will continue to see targets in the upcoming games as Fields gets more comfortable with him.

DUD: CB Jaylon Johnson

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

We know how amped up Jaylon Johnson is to guard Davante Adams, but the second-year cornerback has failed to live up to the challenge so far. Johnson shadowed Adams for much of the day, and it’s safe to say the receiver won the battle. Adams caught four passes for 89 yards, including a key 41-yard gain where Johnson appeared to give up on the play that set up Green Bay’s final score. Johnson was also beat on a 32-yard slant earlier in the game when Adams beat him off the line of scrimmage. While he’s still had a good season, Johnson still has a ways to go in his development when covering the top receivers.

STUD: EDGE Robert Quinn

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I think we’re officially past the point of saying how surprised we are at Robert Quinn’s start to the season. He continues to show up on nearly every play, both in the run and pass game. Quinn had yet another sack on the day, giving him 5.5 on the year. He also had two tackles for loss and blew up multiple plays in the backfield. He and Khalil Mack are playing as advertised and there’s no reason to believe he’s going to slow down anytime soon.

DUD: S Eddie Jackson

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Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Just once, I’d like to see Eddie Jackson make the game-changing play we saw a few years ago. Not even once every few games, just once a season at this point. Jackson continues to play well below expectations after signing his mega extension last offseason. He’s still missing tackles, clearly on display on the Adams completion mentioned earlier, and he had a shot to pick off Rodgers earlier in the series, but couldn’t catch up to the ball. Jackson’s tackling woes, which admittedly have been somewhat better as of late, would still be excused if he was able to intercept the ball. He’s an overpaid, below-average safety at this point and until he gets his hands on the ball, he’ll remain one.

DUD: The Officiating Crew

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I usually don’t put the blame on the NFL referees often. It’s a useless exercise and nobody wins in that argument. But I have to make an exception after watching them in this game. The officiating crew, led by Brad Rogers, was extremely inconsistent and downright bad for both teams. They blatantly missed an offsides call on the Packers, leading to an interception by Fields in the first half that should not have counted and also incorrectly called a personal foul on Mario Edwards Jr. after Rodgers grabbed his facemask. On the flipside, they also called a questionable offensive pass interference penalty on Packers wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown that negated a touchdown.

Balls were spotted poorly on multiple occasions, timeout calls were missed, and questionable penalties were called on both teams. I understand bad calls happen from time to time, no matter how good the crew is, but Sunday was an example of why the NFL needs to hire full-time officials.

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