4 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 14 sacks, and QB rating of 57.5. If you ask Jay Cutler what defense he has struggled against the most thus far in his career, there's no doubt his answer would be Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers' 3-4. What makes Capers' defense so tough to move the ball on is for one, his defensive line not only occupies blockers, but they're also capable of rushing the passer to go along with Clay Matthews. Not only that, Capers has so much confidence in his corners in man coverage that he sends his best CB Charles Woodson on blitzes.
The Bears pass protection has had trouble picking up Capers exotic blitz schemes, and the receivers (specifically Knox and Hester) get punked out in press coverage against their corners - often throwing off the timing of the play which results in Cutler getting sacked or Cutler throwing a turnover. For this week's WCG key match-up, I am concentrating on ways the Bears can beat Capers' defense. The Bears are one game away from reaching the Super Bowl, and the guy that's in the way of that destination is the same guy that has had Cutler's number since he arrived here in Chicago.
Contain the 300 pound lineman
It all starts with these guys, and if you can effectively contain B.J. Raji, Cullen Jenkins, and Ryan Pickett; it eases some pressure off the tackles and tight End who will look to pick up the edge rushers and blitzes on the outside. Capers' defensive line is the foundation of his 3-4 schemes, because it keeps the opposing offensive lineman off those linebackers. The interior line has to play outstandingly, because it will be a long day if the defensive line is adding to the pass rush and plugging up holes in the running game.
Using Matt Forte and Chester Taylor on outside runs
Forte had a great 1st half against the Packers in the final week of the season, but Martz went away from the run game. I like Forte and Taylor's chances against the Packers' front 7 especially on a Solder Field turf, which would make the slow-footed Packers linebackers even slower. Yes, the Bears will run up the gut, but I expect Tice to use Forte and Taylor's speed on the outside because running up the gut against this defensive line is the equivalent to running into a brick wall. If the Bears can pop one on an inside run that would just be gravy.
Test J'Marcus Webb 1-on-1 against Clay Matthews
Yes you are reading this right, put Webb 1-on-1 against Matthews early on and see how he does. I get it that Matthews is a beast, but he can be neutralized by an offensive tackle, case in point Kevin Shaffer in the 1st meeting this year against the Packers. Webb is bigger, faster, and more athletic than Shaffer. Webb just needs to learn how to quickly get off the snap which he has improved on each week. If Webb struggles 1-on-1 with Matthews, we should expect Martz to line a TE next to him.
Rolling Out Jay Cutler
Moving the pocket and allowing Cutler to throw on the run not only frees him from pressure, but puts pressure on the corners and linebackers to cover ground. The two guys in the passing game that can take advantage of this are Greg Olsen and Kellen Davis. If they are matched-up on linebackers this will be a big advantage for the Bears. Green Bay in the past hs lined up a corner against Olsen and often shut him out of the game. This is why I hope Davis' 39-yard touchdown pass was the start of more playing time in the pass game. His height and size should give the Packers linebackers problems.
Locate where Charles Woodson is at on the field
We should expect Woodson to be the nickel guy when Capers has his defense in that formation. The best way for the Bears to avoid this is to stay out of 3rd and long because that is where they will use Woodson as a blitz rusher the most. If the Bears are in 3rd and long and they see Woodson setting up to blitz from the NB position, a wide receiver screen is a best way to combat a play like that. This particular route is best because best believe Dom has a guy taking away that hot route slant. Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are two guys that come to mind that I believe can break a tackle and get to that first down marker.
Attack Sam Shields
There's no weakness in the Packers secondary, but if I had to pick one it would be Sam Shields even though he's no slouch. However, he can be beaten and if there was ever a chance to dust off Devin Aromashodu for a game it is this one. Why not use a guy that is hungry and wants to prove himself again. I feel they should throw different looks at Shields in hopes that he has a brain fart. Shields is a solid corner and won't be rattled, but you hope the multiple looks he has on his side confuses him enough to open up a big play.