Four Downs: Keys to beating the Packers (11/04/13)

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

1. Drop back extra players in coverage

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been on fire lately — then again, when hasn’t he been? Rodgers has been sacked a lot more than average over the years because he holds on to the ball longer than he probably should. But those sacks generally have to come from the defensive line — something the Bears are poor at this year. The normal thought when your front four struggles to generate pressure is to send a blitz, right? That won’t work against Rodgers because he will pick apart a defense that way. He’s good at making blitzing teams pay by finding the opening created. Instead, the Bears should do the contrary and possibly rush three and drop back Shea McClellin in underneath coverage. Julius Peppers has dropped back in coverage before, too. Defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will have to change up looks.

2. Don’t get beat deep; make Packers earn every yard

The Packers did not punt once against the Vikings last week. That’s right, not one punt. Because they scored over … and over … and over again. As bad as the Bears defense has been, I don’t expect the Packers to have to punt too often on Monday night. But the Bears can help out Josh McCown and their offense by limiting the quickness with which the Packers score. In order to do that, though, they have to cover the deep portion of the field. They cannot let the receivers get past them like they did against the Redskins. Keep all the action in front of them and make the Packers work the full length of the field. That’ll keep the Packers’ score respectable and give the Bears’ offense at least a chance.

3. Focus on stopping the run

Part of the problem the Bears face on Monday is that they’re not just going to have to contend with Rodgers and the passing game. The Packers’ run game, led by Eddie Lacy and James Starks, has been on a roll lately. They’re running over defenses, and given what we’ve seen from the Bears’ run defense this year with their poor tackling, that signals bad news. Tackling is a combination of fundamentals and will. And due to the current CBA and how little emphasis is placed on practicing tackling, teams aren’t able to hone those fundamentals during practice. So, it falls more on the “will” part of the equation. The Bears have to have the will to tackle. Get in there, stick your head on the numbers of the ball carrier, wrap up and bring him down. If the Bears can limit the big gains on runs, they’ll make it just a little tougher on the Packers’ offense.

4. Chew up clock and keep Rodgers on the sideline

Similar to the key about making the Packers earn every yard, the Bears have to sustain long drives offensively. We are witnessing an era in the NFL where scoring is ridiculously high. Between better quarterback play, spread offenses, and rules that are geared toward allowing offenses to succeed and defenses to struggle, the Bears cannot allow this game to spin out of control. They cannot keep up with the Packers offense in a shootout, at least not with Josh McCown at the helm. If they keep giving the ball back to Rodgers, this game could turn out to have a college basketball score, with scoring almost every possession and in a minimal timeframe. I know we like to see big, highlight plays that cover a lot of ground. But against an opponent like the Packers, give me three yards and a cloud of dust on run plays, and also dink and dunk down the field on passing plays while eating up the clock and keeping Rodgers off the field as much as possible.

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