As Pro Football Talk by NBC Sports puts out their initial preseason Power Rankings, they include a choice quote from quarterback Aaron Rodgers speaking about the team’s lack of playmakers on defense:
“We haven’t had the kind of physical talent as far as size here in a while,” Rodgers said last month. “I think there’s been times — I think back to playing Jacksonville in ’08 in Jacksonville, some of the battles we’ve had with our division teams at times — where you walk on the field and feel like you’re kind of a JV team.”
Despite going up against a JV defense, the Bears offense performed well enough to win, but were not dominant a year ago. The team scored 27 points in the first matchup, a Monday night in November when Shea McClellin broke Rodgers’ collar bone, and then scored 28 points in the season finale that saw them fall short of the division title 33-28, due in large part to Chris Conte‘s continued ineptitude.
Josh McCown took the field for the first game and threw for 272 yards with two TD’s, while Jay Cutler put up a rating of 103.8 in the finale. Matt Forte was the highlight of both games though, rushing for 125 yards with a TD in game one and 110 yards with two TD’s in game two.
Despite decent offensive performances, the downfall of the Bears when facing the Packers last season was an inability to contain running back Eddie Lacy.
The hope in Chicago is that a revamped defense will be much more effective against the run, but another way to limit the impact of Lacy is to score enough points early that the Packers get out of their game plan and are forced to throw the ball on most downs. While Aaron Rodgers is no picnic to defend, the Bears can have success against the Packers this year if they can keep them one-dimensional.
It all starts on offense for the Bears as the defense will still need all the help it can get this year. By taking early leads and running down the clock with a balanced attack, the Bears offense will truly be their best defense and that will never be more necessary than when facing the Packers. The first game between the two teams will be at home on Sunday, September 28 while the second will take place on November 9 at Green Bay for a Sunday night game.
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