A look at four keys for the Bears to beat the Green Bay Packers.
1. Interior line pressure; outside containment
The average fan and typical football analyst will look at this game and scoff at the Bears’ chances of upsetting the Packers. And maybe they’re all right. But it’s my task to find a way to get it done and this is what the Bears need to do. More than anything, the Bears have to beat the best quarterback in the game, Aaron Rodgers, by putting pressure on him right up the middle and in his face. Any great quarterback can be flustered by preventing him from stepping into his throws. The problem, of course, is getting that pressure up the middle. The other half of this equation, though, is to keep outside containment. Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks throwing on the move and if he escapes the interior pressure and moves outside the pocket, forget about it. He’ll either hit his deep targets or pick up yards with his legs.
2. Ground and pound with Matt Forte
Forte is one of the most versatile backs in all of football and maybe the most well-rounded. Might as well put him to use and get every ounce possible out of him. John Fox is an old-school coach who enjoys a ball control offense that chews up the clock, keeps the opposing defense on the field for prolonged periods of time while the other team’s offense is getting cold on the sideline. Rodgers and crew can’t hurt the Bears when they’re not on the field. The Bears need to feed Forte the rock and use him out of the backfield. With so many injuries to the receiving corps, they might be forced to rely on Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett, anyway.
3. Protect the football
One of the oldest and truest keys to a football game, the Bears can’t lay the pigskin on the field. That Jay Cutler has to take better care of the football goes without saying. Aside from pick-sixes or fumbles returned for scores, turnovers set up the Packers with short fields and make it easy on Rodgers to convert points. I have no doubts that the Packers will put up at least 24 points, but the Bears can do their best to make them work for it.
4. Force Packers offense into second- and third-and-long
Few quarterbacks in the league can handle long conversions like Rodgers, but why give him any extra help? If Eddie Lacy busts out big gains on first and second down, it’s going to be a long day for the Bears defense. They have to play sound, fundamental football and maintain gap integrity. I’d like to see a more physical defense that doesn’t shy away from tackles the way Marc Trestman’s defenses did the past two years. The other important reason to force the Packers into long conversion attempts is it gives new free agent acquisition Pernell McPhee an opportunity to showcase his abilities in passing situations.