Former NFL safety Matt Bowen describes the preparation for such a familiar foe in the Packers:
“Maybe offensive coordinator Mike Martz can install a new route scheme to take advantage of the Packers’ pressure defense, or get Devin Hester free in the open field on a new wide receiver screen that hasn’t shown up on tape. But those plays are small in comparison to what we will see Sunday. The Cover 2 defense from the Bears, Matt Forte in the run game and the empty, wide open looks from [Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers and the Packers offense.”
It would seem that this kind of preparation can be a challenge because players feel that they’ve seen it all before. In this respect cornerback Tramon Williams had some interesting comments on how Green Bay handles the problem:
“It’s going to come down to the small details. When you play a team like that, you may not feel that you have to put in as much studying because you feel you know that team. But you don’t take that approach. You have to go back in, pay attention to more details, and kind of go into Chicago Bears locker room and see [whether you] can understand their players like they understand it. That’s something that my coach just finished telling me that he’s going to do, detailing this work like that. That’s something that our defense has been doing, detailing their work all year. I think that’s what made us play the way we’ve been.”
Hopefully the Bears won’t be complacent in their study either. I doubt they will given how hard fought the last regular season game against the Packers was. Nevertheless, despite the comments of both Williams and Bowen, I wonder if someone won’t try to pull a major change this week end. ESPN‘s NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert wonders the same thing:
“Will that really be the case? This game features two of the most creative coordinators in the NFL. I heard Hawk’s quote and wondered if he wasn’t feeding into the cliché in the name of gamesmanship. With a Super Bowl berth on the line, do we really think that Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz and Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers will simply let ‘em play?
“The smart money says no way, a sentiment Bears center Olin Kreutz expressed in the moments after last Sunday’s 35-24 divisional playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks.
“‘With the coaches that are going against each other, Coach Martz and Coach [Dom] Capers, there will be some new stuff out there,’ Kreutz said. ‘So we’ll be ready.’”
Let’s hope so. I’m sure Tom Brady was thinking just as Bowen describes last week before the game against the Jets. He then walked into a buzz saw as Jets coach Rex Ryan designed what was by all accounts a brilliant game plan to take away the middle of the field. It was a scheme that Brady never solved and the result was an improbably Jets win. Michael Silver at Yahoo Sports describes the players reaction:
“When Ryan’s defensive players saw the X’s and O’s their coach had cooked up, there was no mistaking them for hugs and kisses.
“’It was an unbelievable game plan,’ veteran defensive lineman Trevor Pryce (notes) said. ‘It was out of sight. We did some stuff I’ve never seen a football team do. We flooded coverages, had man schemes that looked like zone, and zone that looked like man. Our first reaction was, ‘How are we gonna do this? How is this gonna work?’ I mean, 14 years in the NFL, and I’d never seen anything like it. Rex came up with some Madden [expletive], like it was a video game. He said, ‘Hey, let’s try this.’ And it worked! They couldn’t figure it out.’”
Such things are undoubtedly exceedingly rare. But nevertheless lets hope the Bears players and coaches are on their toes for anything this weekend because anything could still be what they’ll see.
(Thank you for supporting my sponsors.)