After watching tape of Sunday's 31-23 loss to the Packers, coach John Fox called the Bears' performance "a mixed bag" Monday and vowed that the team would improve moving forward.
Asked what he learned in his first game as coach, Fox said: "We didn't execute as well as we needed to in the red area. There were some elements of protection. There were some elements of the route running. The guys are in there watching that tape now. I think we're going to learn from it."
The Bears scored one touchdown on three trips inside the Green Bay 10. They settled for a field goal after reaching the 8 on the game's opening possession and turned the ball over on downs after Jay Cutler threw three straight incompletions from the 2 in the fourth quarter.
Asked about the inability to get into the end zone on the three pass plays, Fox blamed execution and not play-calling.
"It is easier after the play or after the series to make calls; even I figured that out," he joked. "But really at the end of the day it's about executing. Whether you're running the ball or passing the ball, you have 11 guys that need to do their job and that's what we refer to as execution. I didn't dislike what we were in and what we tried to do. We just didn't do it well enough."
On the positive side, Fox was impressed with a ground game that generated 189 yards and one touchdown on 33 rushes. Kyle Long gained 105 of his game-high 141 yards in the first half, helping the Bears dominate time of possession 18:20-11:40. The Bears also converted nine of their first 12 third-down opportunities and 11-of-17 overall.
"We did some good things," Fox said. "We ran the ball pretty efficiently. We executed pretty well on third down. We were able to minimize their plays on offense by keeping them on the sideline. But at the end of the day they executed better down there in the tight end of the field than we did."
The Packers produced four touchdowns and one field goal on five red-zone possessions. Aaron Rodgers threw TD passes of 13 and 1 yards to James Jones and 5 yards to Randall Cobb. On two of the scores, Rodgers beat tight coverage by defensive backs Alan Ball and Sherrick McManis.
"It's the difference in close games," Fox said of the contested TD catches. "It was a one-score game in the fourth quarter. They made great plays. Give credit to their protection or to the quarterback or to the guy making a difficult catch. That's the reality when you're playing against the best in the world at what they do."
The Bears defense did not record a sack or a takeaway and allowed the Packers to score on five of seven possessions, excluding the two at the end of each half when Rodgers took a knee to kill the clock. Green Bay converted 6-of-10 third-down opportunities to sustain drives.
"There's plenty of room for improvement," Fox said when asked about the defense. "As good as we were on third downs, we didn't do as well defensively."
Fox was pleased with two three-and-outs the defense forced. The first came on the Packers' first possession after the Bears had taken a 3-0 lead on Robbie Gould's 28-yard field goal. "That was an important way to start," Fox said.
The second three-and-out came after the Bears had turned the ball over on downs at the Green Bay 2. Marc Mariani followed the defensive stand with an 11-yard punt return to the Packers' 41. "That was key," Fox said. "Otherwise, if you let them drive 99 yards obviously it's not quite as good a decision [to go for the touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the 2]."
Cutler performed efficiently, completing 18 of 36 passes for 225 yards with one touchdown and one interception while also scrambling for 31 yards on four attempts.
The Bears quarterback excelled on third down, connecting on 8 of 10 passes for 123 yards—including completions of 50 and 25 yards—and a 117.9 passer rating. His one mistake came midway through the fourth quarter when he was intercepted by Clay Matthews. The Pro Bowl linebacker sprinted from one side of the field to the other to pick off the pass intended for Martellus Bennett.
Asked what the Bears could have done differently on the play, Fox said: "I think maybe just being a little more aware of where [Matthews] is as far as what side of the field we're working to. I think Jay was right in the way he was looking at his progression. He could have made a different decision. All in all, I thought it was a heck of a play on [Matthews'] part, both to get the pick and return it."