Four Downs: Keys to beating the Packers

December 11th, 2009 - 7:20 pm

A look at four keys for the Bears to beat this week’s opponent.

1. Generate pressure with the front four
The Bears’ defensive linemen ought to be licking their chops this week. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 45 times behind a patchwork offensive line. Furthermore, the Bears sacked Rodgers four times in the season opener. It’s not enough to simply say the Bears need to bring pressure; a pass rush from the front four alone is what’s needed. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league at handling the blitz, so if the Bears send extra pressure from their linebackers or defensive backs, it leaves them vulnerable against the pass. If they can’t sack him — they’d be one of the only teams not to do so — they at least need to rough him up much like they did in the first meeting between these teams. If they allow him to walk away with a clean jersey, I can guarantee the Packers will have won the game.

2. Protect the football
We all vividly remember what transpired in the first game of this season. The anointed savior, Jay Cutler, threw four interceptions and couldn’t possibly have had a worse debut in a Bears uniform. Since that game, Cutler has continued to turn over the ball to the tune of a league-high 20 interceptions. Only three of those interceptions have come at home, and that trend will have to continue if the Bears want a chance to win. The Packers are the most opportunistic defense in the league this year, picking off 21 passes and recovering 10 fumbles. It’s because of their defense and their reliable offense that they lead the league with a plus-18 turnover ratio. If the Bears don’t protect the football, they’re not likely to take it back and will have fewer chances to win.

3. Run the ball
The Packers have the No. 1 overall defense in the league thanks to their No. 3 pass defense and No. 4 run defense. What are the Bears to do? As we learned last week against the Rams, sometimes running the ball, whether it churns out the yardage or not, is enough to win the game. Sure, the Rams have one of the worst run defenses in the league and their offense doesn’t scare anybody. But the Bears had a game plan going in and they stuck to it. The same needs to be done against the Packers. If I had to point out one performance that I think the Bears need to emulate to get the job done, it’d be the 2007 game against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Brett Favre and the Packers’ offense moved the ball at will and did almost anything they wanted. Charles Tillman forced two fumbles and the Bears intercepted Favre twice. And Cedric Benson ran the ball 27 times for only 64 measly yards. The Bears won that game. If Matt Forte can run the ball 27 times and the Bears win the turnover battle, they have a shot at winning this Sunday no matter how many yards Forte gets off those carries.

4. Win the special teams battle
I think there’s little debate that the Bears’ special teams are having one of their worst seasons yet under Dave Toub. They’ve done it all. Mental blunders such as not enough players on the field. Muffed or mishandled punts and returns for minimal yardage. Poor tackling and coverage. That needs to stop this week. The Packers don’t make a lot of mistakes in any phase of the game and because their offense and defense are so much better than what the Bears trot out on the field, the Bears need some way of neutralizing them. Be it excellent kick coverage, good kick and punt returns, perfection from Robbie Gould, and coffin corner punting from Brad Maynard, the Bears need a near perfect week from their special teams.