We love Thursday Night Football, and love Packer week even more. At this point, there is no need for hype - This match-up is always one of the biggest highlights of the entire NFL season, and with both teams having a significant shot at the NFC North title, it's a huge games for both clubs.
1- Dom Capers has seen success nearly his entire career as a defensive coordinator, but it sounds like there may be some questions flying around right now as to whether he is to blame for much of the issues with the Packers defensive unit. Can you tell us what is going on with that, and how much heat Capers should be catching?
Kevin: I was willing to forgive Capers for the Packers' defensive issues last season because of his track record, the loss of Nick Collins, and the team's lack of a pass rush. The team improved their pass rush in the offseason and knew before the draft that they would not have the services of Collins this season, but the defense still looks terrible.
Most of the problems in the 49ers game had more to do with poor scheme than individual players not doing their jobs. The tackling was poor, but there were also a lot of instances where a linebacker was left in man coverage on a slot receiver. It's not Nick Perry's fault that he can't cover Michael Crabtree or Randy Moss. That's on the man calling the plays.
2- We all know about the superstars on your roster... Who are some guys that might be flying under the radar that we should keep an eye on Thursday?
Kevin: Randall Cobb probably qualifies as an under-the-radar player, though he'll be firmly on the radar of Bears coaches after his performance on Week 1. Greg Jennings isn't a lock to start on Thursday due to an injury, so Cobb is going to get plenty of snaps in the slot, and he'll also come out of the backfield quite a bit. The Bears might also see a bit of Alex Green on Thursday. He didn't play much against the Niners, partially because he was recovering from an injury and partially because the Packers were always playing from behind.
3- Who are some rookies and sophomores that could really impact the Packers season this year?
Kevin: Besides Cobb and Green, safety M.D. Jennings will get plenty of snaps. He had a mediocre preseason and Week 1, but he's the nickel DB nonetheless and will have a big impact on their season, positive or negative. Rookie cornerback Casey Hayward might also see some more time this week after Jarrett Bush had a rough Week 1. The most impactful rookies are Perry and Jerel Worthy, who are defensive starters. Perry looked strong (except in pass coverage) against the 49ers, while Worthy was not at his best.
4- One key match-up in this game will clearly be the Bears pass rush versus Aaron Rodgers... Who do you think has the advantage?
Kevin: I think that's entirely dependent on how well the Bears stick to the Packers' receivers and how well they disguise coverages. Obviously Julius Peppers has an advantage over Marshall Newhouse, but if Rodgers can get rid of the ball quickly, it's not going to matter. Also, Newhouse was surprisingly good against the Niners' fearsome right side, and he'll get plenty of RB and TE help on Peppers. I like the interior linemen and Bryan Bulaga against the Bears' DTs and Shea McClellin. It's going to come down to how quickly Rodgers can get the ball out of his hands.
5- Now that the dust is finally settling a little bit, how do Packers fans really feel about Brett Favre, and how does Aaron Rodgers stack up?
Kevin: I'm over Favre's departure. So are most fans, but some will never forgive him for playing for the Vikings. A large segment of the fans will also never accept Ted Thompson for running him out of town. It's tough to compare QBs from different eras, playing in different offenses, but Aaron Rodgers' last two seasons stack up favorably against anything Favre has ever done.
That wraps up this week's edition of Five Questions... Thanks a ton to Kevin for taking the time to chat with us!