HISTORY OF THE RIVALRY
There is no bigger game on the Chicago Bears schedule than the one tonight versus the Green Bay Packers. Tonight the Bears travel approximately 210 miles north to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Lambeau Field is the destination. According to my sources, this is the 185th meeting between the two rivals. Bears hold the overall advantage at 92-86-6. As you can see from the record, this rivalry is one that is very close and very heated.
When Coach Smith was hired to be the head coach of the Chicago Bears, he said his number one goal was to defeat the Green Bay Packers. Lovie said in order to get to the Super Bowl, Bears would have to learn to defeat the Packers on a regular basis. Lovie is 8-9 against the Packers in his career as the Chicago Bears head coach, including a loss in the NFC Championship game in 2010. From 2004-07, Bears were 6-2. Since Rodgers began taking snaps at QB, Bears are 2-6 from 2008-present. So the question now is, "How do we beat the Rodgers-led Packers?"
1. Have to Get Pressure on Aaron Rodgers
The number one thing the Bears must address is slowing down Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is not only the reigning MVP of the NFL, but he holds a record passer rating of 103.9 at Lambeau Field. DT Henry Melton, DE Julius Peppers, DE Israel "Izzy" Idonije, and backup DE Shea McLellin will need to get to Aaron Rodgers quick and often. The Bears front four did record 3 sacks last week vs. the Colts. The sack total needs to be higher in the 4 or 5 range tonight. Melton got 2 and backup Corey Wootten got 1 versus the Colts. Bears have had experience in holding Rodgers to low yardage games. For example, in 2009, Rodgers only threw for 180 and 184 in their two meetings.
Cutler agreed by saying, "Whenever we are playing our defense and the front four is getting the pressure, it's hard as a quarterback because your clock is speeding up," Cutler said. "You know you have to get rid of the ball. If we can get Pep [Julius Peppers] and Izzy [Israel Idonije] and Henry [Melton] and those guys rolling, the defense should have a good day."
The key to getting the pressure on Rodgers is not giving him a quick, first option. Packers will spread out receivers. Even if WR Greg Jennings cannot go tonight, which all indications are that he is going to try to play; Green Bay has a plethora of talented, explosive WR's. The likes of Jordy Nelson, James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Donald Driver are still very worrisome for Bears fans. Add TE Jermichael Finley to the list and its almost impossible to key in on all weapons. Rodgers has one of the quickest releases in the game and makes the "seam route" (WR runs straight up the field) look easy.
The secondary needs to jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage. This should give the front four more time to get to QB Rodgers. With LB Brian Urlacher not at 100%, I would predict that defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will dial up some nickel/corner blitzes to assist the front four in their QB pursuit.
Let's hope Julius Peppers and Brian Urlacher can go the entire game. Let's see if Shea McLellin can come in on passing downs and use his speed to get to Rodgers. Don't forget about Rodger's ability to extend plays and use his athleticism to run for first downs.
2. Putting up Points
The Bears have a high powered offense. I think it can be just as dynamic as the Packers offense. This offense (Bears) is a scoring machine. Just hear what Cutler and Coach Tice had to say.
"We're in the point scoring business," Cutler said. "If we can grind it out, we can grind it out. But we've got to score and we've got to be explosive, and that takes big plays and big chunks. So time of possession isn't really something that is on our mind."
"The main thing at the end of the day is we just want to score points," said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. "If it takes two plays to score points or 12 or 16, we want to score points. We're not going to count the minutes of each drive and say we have to slow down the clock. We're not going to play that style of game. It's just not what we're going to do."
As long as the offensive line can keep Jay Cutler upright, look for the Bears to be taking chances down the field. Coach Tice can help the offensive line by mixing up the play-calling. Bears will look to keep one of the worst defenses in the NFL (Packers) off-balanced and guessing. In order to keep the Packers defense off balance, the Bears will need to be playing from ahead or within 7 points. Cutler and the offense do not want to play "catch-up." Playing from behind makes the Bears take more chances, which increases the possibility of turnovers.
3. Turnover Ratio
Whoever wins this stat category will most likely come out on top. I realize I am not a genius by stating this, but if the above keys go to the Bears...then the turnover battle should go their way. BEAR DOWN!!