Four Downs: Keys to beating the Packers (12/29/13)

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

1. Have a playoff attitude

The Bears are in the playoffs! They will host the Packers in a win-or-go-home contest Sunday at Soldier Field. Okay, so it’s not actually the postseason; it’s just Week 17 of the regular season. But Sunday’s game will have the same feeling and emotions involved as in a playoff game. Emotions will be high for this divisional battle, the winner will move on to the next game while the loser’s season will indeed end. As such, the Bears need to come out and play like this could be their last game, because it could. And not just for the team collectively, but many of the players who are free agents as well. They can’t just go through the motions, they have to be physical, play with a mean streak, play through the shadow of the whistle, mix it up with the Packers players after the whistle. Basically, let the opponent know that this is their field and they will not walk away with a loss.

2. Keep hitting/knocking down Aaron Rodgers

I’ll never root for a player to get hurt despite how much I might not like him. But with Rodgers returning from a long layoff, he’s going to have just a little bit of rust, no matter how good a player he is. The Bears can do themselves a favor by knocking Rodgers to the cold, hard surface all game. If the front four cannot get to Rodgers in time to sack him, they can still hopefully get to him in time to hit him after the throw — but not in a stupid, illegal Detroit Lions-like roughing the passer play. Rodgers has been standing comfortably on the sideline for the past two months. When you throw him back in the cold and keep bruising and battering his body, he’s going to be feeling it toward the end of the game and it’ll affect his performance.

3. Prevent any mistake bleeding

Last week against the Eagles, the Bears went three-and-out on their first possession, the defense got gashed by the Eagles and gave up a touchdown, Devin Hester fumbled away a kickoff return, and the Bears found themselves in a two-touchdown hole. The Bears had a similar start against the Rams. In neither game were the Bears able to recover, especially not against a good Eagles offense. The Bears simply cannot trip over themselves in this one. Every possession is crucial and ball security is of the utmost importance. And at worst, if the Bears do make a mistake and cough up the football, they can’t let that cause bleeding that leads to further mistakes. The Bears instead need to put the pressure on the Packers by scoring quickly and demanding that Rodgers recover. Given the poorness of the Bears’ defense, Rodgers probably would rebound and lead the Packers on a game-tying drive, meaning the Bears have to be extremely efficient and keep adding to their lead. Every drive has to accomplish one of two things: either it leads to points ideally, or it allows them to pin the Packers deep in their own end of the field, at the very least.

4. Show the Packers different looks

It’s difficult to generate pressure on Aaron Rodgers given that he’s one of the best quarterbacks in the league at picking apart a blitzing defense, but the Bears have to try anyway. They are not good enough to generate pressure with their front four alone and giving Rodgers ample time to throw would have him picking apart the Bears’ woeful secondary at a record rate. The Packers don’t have one of the league’s better offensive lines, so confusing them by bringing different looks could help increase the pressure on Rodgers.

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