I conducted a poll earlier in the week asking what’s the Bears biggest concern against Green Bay. Over 100 votes have been casted, and so far, the survey says:
1st: 27% Aaron Rodgers/Packers WR’s. 2nd: 24% Inability to convert third downs. 3rd: 22% Clay Matthews/GB Pass Rush. 4th: 14% Poor execution in run game. 5th: 8% MNF spotlight/high expectations. 6th: 3% Charles Woodson. 7th: 2% Jay Cutler vs. 3-4 Defense. 8th: 1% Limited Devin Aromashodu.
My thoughts/rankings: Very surprised to see how low Jay Cutler vs. 3-4 D ranks, that’s something that strikes me as a potential problem, it should be higher up as cause for concern. Jay is 5-12 against the 3-4, losing six times as opposed to winning three times as a Bear (1-0 this year, Dallas). Charles Woodson should have gotten more votes, he can lockdown a Knox or Hester. Basically, takes away one side of the field. Is he still capable of shutting down a young gun like Johnny or Devin? Nonetheless, he always seems to make big plays on us. The lack of running game doesn’t both me that much. We are 3rd in the NFL in pass yards at 316 per contest. Inability to convert on third downs is understandable. This has the makings of a close game, tight/dramatic finish, so you need to make your money, cash in on 3rd down. However, I have a weird feeling it could be a bigger problem on the other side of the ball, with our D not being able to finish, getting off the field on 3rd downs. Needless to say, this concerns me because of our Cover-2 scheme. What do you think? As for a limited Devin Aromashodu, I would love to see him get more playing time. He’s a playmaker, deep threat. However, I think Earl Bennett, the main reason why we didn’t see Devin #2, is a solid target for #6.
Rodgers/Pack WR’s- that’s going to be tough to contain, we will be seeing a lot of that. Surely, Clay/Pass Rush will be tough match for our weak OL, yet, I don’t see Clay getting as many sacks as he will hurries/QB hits. He can avoid, dodge bullets. Lastly, my choice, MNF spotlight/high expectations will be in play. This is the biggest game in the Jay Cutler era. I can see us getting a bit too crazy, out of hand early on, falling behind 14-3, or 17-7. That’s my biggest fear/worry. Why wouldn’t this be a bigger concern? My rankings: 1st. MNF spotlight. 2nd: Jay vs. 3-4. 3rd: 3rd downs (defensively more so, even though it was more in tune to the offense after 1-11 vs Dallas, and so far the D has been OK, better than the O on 3rd) 4th: Rodgers/WR’s. 5th: Clay/Pass Rush. 6th: Charles Woodson. 7th: Limited Aromashodu. 8th: Lack of run game.
Bears strengths vs. Packers weaknesses:
1st: Momentum, Swagger, Confidence, being at Home: As much as I think the MNF spotlight could be an issue, I think it could conversely help us out just as much. Wait, how does that make much sense? I just believe this team’s supreme confidence has great potential, led by its leader, Jay Cutler, who, just like the team’s confidence is its greatest strength, but also their greatest concern/weakness. Our over-aggressiveness was the reason we beat Dallas, but it also could be our downfall against Green Bay. Our greatest strength is our greatest weakness. I like it. You need to STAY confident no matter what, and I like how the team is conducting themselves. They believe they can beat anyone. You need that attitude to succeed in this league. Even if they are over their head. Carry over momentum from last week’s big road victory over Dallas, show the swagger in pass game with gutsy plays calls and defensively by continuing to pulverize opposing oncoming ballcarriers/targeted receivers, and swarm to the point of attack like Jeff said. Being at home factors in as well. Look at Aaron Rodgers wins on the road. Anyone impress you? NO.
2nd: Julius against GB’s tackles: Whoever lines up against Julius, whether it be the mountain of a rook from Iowa (too slow) or gimpy, old Chad Clifton (wait, isn’t he 42?), big-time advantage! Edge: Bears, by a landslide. This is why we signed Peppers, for games like this. His play will go a long way in determining the winner of this showdown. The outcome of the game could very well be in the hands of the most expensive player on the field. #90 make your money, show ’em what ya’ worth! Show ’em what ya’ workin’ with! Not only should he feast on whoever lines up in front of him, but he should be the guy everyone rallies around and follows. He is the model, the example, the motor, the guy that needs to energize and lead the way -without question, doubt, or hesitation, he’s the most talented player on either side of the ball come Monday night.
3rd: Packers ONLY option is to Pass: No Ryan Grant. Brandon Jackson? Kuhn? One’s a better receiver than a runner, the other’s more of a fullback if anything. On top of that, through two games we lead all of football with the best rush defense, only allowing 28 yards per game. The more one-dimensional they come, the more we can fire up the blitz and bring the attack to Rodgers. If we can nullify any balance they try to attempt, it’s a win for our defense. I don’t believe Rodgers can beat us throwing the ball more than 40 times. At the very least, I like our chances if that’s the scenario. And if that’s the case, we could see more Israel/Melton on passing downs/big 3rd down situations to help rev up the rush.
4th: Jay’s Bombs:
Green Bay’s secondary is very talented. Immensely gifted. Skilled, ball hawks, guys that can change a whole complexion of a game around. Yet, you can use that against them and turn it around in a hurry with a play-action fake, double-move from Knox or Hester, or just air it out when you see a golden opportunity. Take it to our advantage, right? Big plays=big momentum changers. Big plays=points. The more big plays, the better. Especially, when you consider we’re playing at home, the crowd will definitely help the cause. You know how BIG this game is, so any big play from Cutler’s arm will be a big deal. Cutler’s arm + Knox/Hester’s speed = Opportunity for big things to happen.
5th: Forte/Taylor, receiving threats: Just to re-echo what Jeff said, you gotta give the defense a lil’ somethin’ somethin’ to think about (added emphasis on a lil’ somethin’ somethin’). So the more things you throw at this defense, the more you can divert them off their track, and most importantly, their pass rush. We can hold off the dogs if we send out Forte/Taylor on passing routes. Make the LB’s cover in space, have them make plays in the open field against the impressively elusive combo of Forte/Taylor. I believe they are assets that can be used to prolong drives, wear the Packers defense out. Short passes are just as good if not better the runs. A short pass play is just like a run. High-percentage plays. Two of the best receiving backs will be used to our advantage. I wouldn’t mine seeing their time increased, boosted to provide a different look, to keep the D in a guessing game. Go to work Martz, make up guess, and when they do, make ’em pay for their cheating ways!