Chicago Bears football is so close to being back.
Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears (I cannot believe we can say that) are preparing themselves to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. For the Bears defense, a key for them will be to find a way to stop Rodgers. The issue is, it’s near impossible to stop Rodgers, so the team must find ways to stop the players around him.
As all of us have come to know that Green Bay Packers have a pretty special quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. The offense, and likely the team’s whole success’ is based on Rodgers, as Green Bay fell apart rather quickly when he went down last year. The Bears defense must do everything they can to stop him.
The rest of the offense around him is not nearly as solid. Starting at the running back position, the Packers made an interesting depth chart decision, as the team originally looked like they were going into week one with two running backs on the roster, but the Packers added Darius Jackson to the 53 man roster. The team will go into week one with Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery, and Jackson on the roster, with Aaron Jones on the suspended list.
For right now, Williams appears to be the starter for week one, and he will probably get the majority of the reps. The Bears know they have to keep an eye on Montgomery as well. He’s had some big games against the Bears in recent years. He will likely be put in as a sort of change of pace back.
The wide receiver play is huge for the Packers because if they can find an opening, Rodgers will likely find them. For right now, the two known wide receivers to look out for are Davante Adams and Randall Cobb. Adams is going to be one of the more productive receivers in the NFL and proved that he is talented without his hall of fame quarterback last season.
He finished last year with 74 catches for 885 yards and 10 touchdowns, and getting those stats with Brett Hundley at quarterback makes that a much bigger deal.
Cobb was looked at as one of the top wide receivers in the NFL just a few years ago, but times have changed quite a bit since then. He has not been as productive over the last few seasons. Cobb will spend most of his time in the slot.
Geronimo Allison is also looking to be a starting wide receiver. Allison has been pretty hit or miss in his career, so the Packers will be looking for more consistency from him in 2018. Hopefully, he doesn’t show that this week.
The team also has a group of young wide receivers that may get into the rotation. None of them screamed out to me as guys that will make a big impact, but they will get some playing time.
Jimmy Graham was a very interesting addition for the Packers. Graham may not be the same tight end as he was when he was with the Saints, but with Rodgers throwing the ball, he may have a bit of a resurrection. Rodgers can improve almost anyone, and with the skills that Graham has displayed over the years, the Bears need to watch out for him.
Now, back to where it starts, up front with the offensive lineman. The Packers offensive line is solid, especially at the tackle positions. Starting at left tackle, protecting Rodgers blindside is David Bakhtiari. Bakhtiari has gotten himself well recognized as one of the best left tackles in the NFL. Right tackle features another great player with Bryan Bulaga as the starter. He is viewed as one of the better tackles in the NFL.
The interior offensive line is a bit weaker.
Lane Taylor starts at left guard next to Bakhtiari. Taylor was seen as a big part of the future for their offensive line, as he was given a three-year extension this offseason. Center Corey Taylor was the only packers lineman to play every snap last season. While he was consistent, he is not a great center and someone who could be attacked. Right guard Justin McCray is the biggest weakness in the Packers offensive line. He is viewed as a below average guard, and someone the Bears should absolutely be looking to exploit.
Those following the Bears have been really getting excited about what the new offense will look like. While all the focus is on that, the Packers could have a very different look in 2018.
This offseason, the Packers brought back the offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who coordinated the offense for there Super Bowl title in 2011. When Philbin was hired back in January, McCarthy mentioned that they would be practically starting from scratch on the offense.
The new offensive coordinator makes it a bit difficult to scout what the offense is going to look like. Similar to the Bears, you can look at what the team did in the preseason, but that is usually a bit of a vanilla version of the offense. You can also scout last year’s film, but again, the team appears to be having a relatively new offense.
I have been attempting to make comparisons between this preseasons film and the 2017 Packers film, and one notable thing is that I am seeing much less motioning this preseason. This fits what I am seeing when I am looking back at film of the Packers offense back when they won the Super Bowl in 2010.
That team had a couple of motions that mainly involved the tight end moving to the inside, not nearly as many different motions as the Packers have shown the last couple of years. The Packers possibly simplified their offense this year. We could see motions return, as it is hard to fully trust what is shown in the preseason.
For the offensive line, the big thing in regards for this first game for Green Bay is that when a team has an elite edge rusher, they must pay a bit more attention to that man, and put an extra man for extra protection. The Packers have used tight ends, running backs, and fullbacks to attempt to help the tackles to make the block on the edge rusher. Look for a guy like Marcedes Lewis to be involved in that.
When watching the Packers offense, they use many different formations. Often times, Rodgers is given the opportunity to get outside the pocket because, as we know, that is where he is often the most deadly. So Rodgers will be given the protection necessary to get to the outside. Sometimes that means that he is given extra help by fullbacks and running backs to chip whatever is coming to the inside.
The Packers do like to spread out their wide receivers and get into shotgun. This gives Rodgers the flexibility to get creative, which again, is where he is his most deadly. The receivers use many routes in the route tree, but when Rodgers get out of the pocket and scramble.
The Matchup the Packers Can Exploit: Aaron Rodgers vs. Any Defense
Bears fans know very well, that no matter the defense, Rodgers still finds ways to make plays. If there is a slip up by anyone on the defense, there’s a good chance that Rodgers will notice it and take advantage. The Bears have seen this song and dance too many times to not prepare for Rodgers to pull something out of nothing.
The Matchup the Bears Can Exploit: Khalil Mack vs. Packers Offensive Line/Marcedes Lewis
The Packers offensive line is solid but has its weaknesses. They have solid tackles, but when looking at the interior lineman, they are not as good. They have a tough task coming up against a now dangerous looking front seven.
Now that the Bears have Mack, according to some fans, Lewis has instantly become the best blocking tight ends in the entire NFL. For some reason, they believe that Lewis can be the reason that Mack doesn’t get to Rodgers. Don’t get me wrong, Lewis is actually one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, but he alone will not stop Mack. Again, look for him to just be used to help assist him.
Look for Mack to have a big first night as a Chicago Bear, as even if he doesn’t make it into the backfield for multiple sacks, he will create such a distraction that other players like Akiem Hicks or Leonard Floyd could step up and get the sack.
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