Four Downs: Keys to beating the Packers (12/25/11)

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A swarming defense is the only way to get it done against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
A swarming defense is the only way to get it done against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.

A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Green Bay Packers.

1. Get quick pressure on Rodgers with front four

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the top quarterback in the game today and he finds himself in a zone right now, completing passes that not many quarterbacks can make. If the Packers offense gets into a rhythm, it’s one of the best offenses in recent memory. The key, obviously, is to prevent them from getting into a rhythm and to do that, the Bears defense needs to disrupt the timing of the offense early in the play. Not only do they have to get quick pressure on Rodgers to prevent the play from developing, but they have to get it from their front four, much like the Kansas City Chiefs did last week in beating the previously undefeated Packers. The Bears have to limit their blitzes because Rodgers will beat a team that blitzes and make them pay by finding the open man.

2. Contain Rodgers inside the pocket, or behind line of scrimmage

Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks in the league at making plays while on the move, so it’s not good enough if the Bears defensive line collapses the pocket and lets him escape because he will find an open receiver while on the run. Rodgers also is one of the top rushing quarterbacks in the league. He’s no Tim Tebow, Michael Vick or Cam Newton, but when a play does break down, he can tuck away the ball and run with it and pick up huge chunks of yardage. There’s nothing more discouraging to a defense than defending a play well, shutting down the receivers, and then having the quarterback beat them with his legs for a first down.

3. Run the ball effectively and keep the Packers offense on the sideline

The Packers offense can’t score if they don’t have the ball. Sure, their defense can, and judging by the way that Bears quarterbacks have been playing, that might be all the scoring Green Bay needs (but see Key No. 4 about that). The Bears have to move the ball better to have any chance at winning the game because the defense can’t possibly play any better than it has the past four weeks without Jay Cutler. If the Bears can’t move the ball against teams like Oakland, Kansas City, Denver and Seattle, how are they expected to do so against the Packers? They’ve got to find ways to make plays and pick up first downs while keeping the clock moving so that time of possession is in their favor and Rodgers and the Packers offense remain on the sideline.

4. Take care of the football on offense; take it away on defense

Let’s be clear: the odds of the Bears winning this game are slim at best. The Packers offense is too good and the Bears offense is too bad. One thing is for certain: the Bears can’t be doing the Packers any favors by turning the ball over and giving Green Bay great field position with which to start drives. Lovie Smith’s defense sets a goal of three takeaways every game because they know the value of turnovers and what they mean to a team’s chances of winning games. If ever there was a need to record three or more takeaways, this would be it. It isn’t going to be easy, though. Rodgers has a staggering 40-to-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. And the Packers are second in the league with a plus-20 turnover ratio. By comparison, the Bears are ranked ninth in the league with just a plus-4 ratio.

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