Bears-Packers Match Up: Advice Galore on Things to Look For

There are, of course, all kinds of articles this morning previewing the Bears-Packers game.  Here is a straight up summary of some of the better points.  I left out some of the really obvious ones if you are a Bears fan like winning the turnover battle, getting pressure on Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rogers without blitzing, and running the ball more than you did the last time the teams played.

The Chicago Sun-Times asked coaches from the Lions and the Vikings to comment upon the Bears-Packers game.  The comments were surprisingly pro Bear.  Here are some samples that I think are especially good points:

“The Bears can slow Clay Matthews by having a running back or tight end chip him to help the offensive tackle. RookieJ’Marcus Webb has steadily improved, but his performance may affect whether the Bears reach the Super Bowl. Then there’s another pressing concern — the Packers’ two behemoths, Cullen Jenkins and B.J. Raji.

“‘They don’t get enough credit. Those two are forces in there.'”

Could not agree more.  The Packers get great pressure up the middle and it flies under the radar.  While the tendency will be to watch Webb, keep an eye on Olin KreutzRoberto Garza, and Chris Williams.  If they’re getting pushed into the backfield it will be a long day.

“The Bears’ outside receivers also need to step up. Devin Hester had two catches for 32 yards in the two games against the Packers, and Johnny Knox — after four catches for 94 yards in the first matchup — was shut out in the finale.

“‘Because they have such a wide variety of schemes and get single high safety, they’re more susceptible to big plays. You can have a catch-and-run.'”

The Packers might be the best team in the league at press coverage.  The Bear wide receivers have to get off the line of scrimmage and into their routes.  Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz obviously agrees via Neil Hayes at the Chicago Sun-Times:

‘‘’They obviously are the best in the league at bump-and-run and pressing and getting ahold of that receiver,’ Martz said. ‘They do a great job at that. They are well-schooled in all the details of doing that.’

‘‘’You have to have a plan. As a wide receiver, you’ve got to go into that game with a plan for how you’re going to deal with that. Some of it we can use formations and help, but by and large, it’s a technique issue that you have to resolve.’’’

Matt Bowen has some advice for Green Bay defensive coordinator Dom Cpaers in regard to the Packers coverage via Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune.  Like he needs it:

“[If I’m Capers] I’m going to go after [Bears tight end Greg] Olsen and take him completely out of the game because the rest of the Packers DBs, especially their nickel personnel, can win against Johnny Knox and Devin Hester.”

Bowen also makes this point which is always a good one for every game, not just this one:

“If the Bears can’t stop the run with their front seven, which I believe they will do, that will be huge for the Packers. If you can keep those two safeties deep, which you do in Cover-2, and let your linebackers chase down the running game, that is an advantage.”

One of the Sun-Times NFC North experts agrees that the Bears should be able to accomplish this:

“‘Everyone talks about the resurgence of the Packers’ run game, but look at their schedule. They haven’t run on anyone that’s good at stopping it.'”

I don’t want to quote the whole article but Bowen makes another excellent point about the mobility of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler vs. the Packer defense:

“Any time you play Cover-1 and play your corners in a press alignment and your pressure does not contain the quarterback, you’re asking for trouble. Cutler is not Michael Vick, but he’s athletic enough where he can pick up 10, 12, 15 yards. Start putting those things together, and all of a sudden you’re at midfield. It’s a killer for the defense.”

Hayes thinks the Bears will try to isolate Packer nickel back Sam Shields in the same way that the Packers  will try to isolate the Bears nickel backs, usually D. J. Moore.  Moore acknowledges the difficulties with the Packers through Vaughn McClure at the Chicago Tribune, by giving us yet another thing to look for – the Bears need to limitthe run after the catch:

“‘[Green Bay quarterback Aaron] Rodgers is smart,’ Moore said. ‘He gets the ball out to his receivers; short passes. If I want to have a good day, get to (the receiver) fast and don’t let make a move where Rodgers throws it 5 yards and (the receiver) takes it 20.'”

Its also worth mentioning that the Packers receivers have their problems, as well.  They’ve been dropping balls all over the field lately.  It didn’t show up in Atlanta but it was very evident in the last regular season game against the Bears.  If they do that again, the Bears have an excellent chance of limiting Rogers.

Mike Mulligan at the Sun-Times points out correctly that we can expect to see a lot of “sky punts” near the sideline which have limited Hester’s returns in the past.  That will largely limit the Bears advantage on special teams.

I’m going to mention one more major point on my own.  Nearly everyone is lauding the improvement of the Bear offensive line in pass protection.  But I have to point out that the Seahawks got very good pressure on Cutler when they blitzed.  This game will be unwatchable for Bear fans if that happens this Sunday.

When asked to make a prediction the five sources from the opposing NFC North teams that the Sun-Times interviewed went 3-1-1 Bears, Packers, and a cowardly “I don’t know”.  And surprising number of experts elsewhere are actually picking the Bears.  But when Vegas talks, I think people listen and with the spread being the Packer -3.5 at Soldier Field, we know who the real under dog is in this match up.

In any case, blitzkrieg of the Bear offensive line aside, it promises to be a deep, entertaining game on many, many levels.  No matter who wins, its the entertainment that brings which will will count the most this weekend.

Low Class Decision from Otherwise High Class Organization

Though I’m usually more than happy to acknowledge when the Packers players or coaches show an extra degree of class, I’m still mildly perturbed at one particular less classy decision in the offseason.  Via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Of all the rejections the Bears faced in hiring coordinators in the offseason, [Packers coach MikeMcCarthy denying the Bears permission to interview Tom Clements for the offensive coordinator position was the most egregious — because he was denying one of his position coaches an opportunity for a promotion.

“It was an awkward subject for McCarthy earlier this season, and he was no more thrilled when it came up again Thursday.

“‘I don’t know why I have to answer something like that right now,’ said McCarthy, apparently forgetting that he never wants to talk about it. ‘I am pro-career advancement with my staff. When a request is made of anybody on our staff, there’s conversations that take place. So Tom and I .?.?. talked about it, and a decision was made and we moved forward. I think Tom’s very happy in Green Bay.'”

Nonsense.  If Clements was happy in Green Bay as quarterbacks coach and didn’t want the Bears job, McCarthy wouldn’t have had to deny him permission to interview.

David Haugh at the Chicago Tribune reflects upon the decision and the comment from McCarthy:

“The move reflected the changing times of the rivalry. After the 1958 season, Bears legend George Halas recommended Giants assistant Vince Lombardi to the Packers because he thought it would be good for the league.

“Compare that magnanimity with coach Mike McCarthy’s testy reaction Thursday when asked about the organization’s decision to prevent Clements from interviewing with the Bears.”

All I can say is that, even if it isn’t immediate, people everywhere usually have to face the consequences for their actions.  These things often come back to bite people in the rear and I’m sure assistants around the league took note when McCarthy kept his Clements from advancing.

Jon Stewart Has a Message Just for You Patriots Fans and Other Points of View


  • A shout out to Bear Goggles for the Packer jokes found in this post.
  • Kudos to Packer running back James Starks for being classy, at least publicly, about being passed over by the Bears in the draft in embarrassing fashion (via Mark Potash at the Chicago Sun-Times):

“Starks said he had no hard feelings over being snubbed by the Bears, who told him they were going to draft him in the sixth round, then had to tell him they had changed their mind. The Packers selected him 12 picks later.

‘‘’I was thankful, actually, that they thought of me,’ Starks said. ‘Most teams wouldn’t have thought of me in situations like that. I prayed on it. I knew things would fall my way. Now I’m a Green Bay Packer, and I’m lovin’ it.'”

A first grade teacher explains to her class that she is a Cheesehead.

She asks her students to raise their hands if they are
Cheeseheads too.

No one really knowing what a Cheesehead was, but wanting
to be like their teacher, their hands explode into the air like flashy

There is, however, one exception. A girl named Kristen
who has not gone along with the crowd. The teacher asks her why she has
decided to be different.

“Because I’m not a Cheesehead.”

“Then”, asks the teacher, “what are you?”

“Why, I’m a proud bear Fan,” boasts the little girl.

The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks
Kristen why she is a rebel.

“Well, my mom and dad are Bear Fans, so I’m a Bear Fan too.”

The teacher is now angry. “That’s no reason,” she says loudly. “What if
your mom was a moron, and your dad was a moron. What would you be then?”

A pause, and a smile. “Then,” says Kristen, “I’d be a Cheesehead”

“We won’t play a player unless we feel like he can be effective and won’t hurt the team – that he can help the team. I don’t think any of our players would put themselves out there knowing that they can’t do their job and that would definitely be the case with Chris. He’s making progress. There’s no reason really to think that he can’t and won’t be able to perform the same way he normally does.”

  • The obligatory intermission:

“That’s who we are. We believe in our basic philosophy of eventually it’s going to come down me beating the guy across, a one-on-one battle no matter how you get in it. There is only so much you can do. The teams who have a philosophy just blitzing every snap, eventually, though, as you blitz you are going to have to beat someone to get there most of the time. You are not going to have a free guy. If you have a free guy, it’s someone on the outside. So it still comes down to a one-on-one football game. For us it’s the same situation. We just do it a little bit differently, but in the end, as our players said, we’re not going to change a whole lot. For the most part, you are going to know what we are going to do and we are going to try to out-execute you.”

We’ll see.

Q: Did you here about the Packer fan that died at a pie eating contest?

A: The cow kicked him in the head!

“The one thing we did see when we looked at Tim was he was a tough, competitive guy, but he’s taken that to another step. Both our corners are so physical. I’m so proud of what these guys do and how tough they are and how well they tackle and how well they compete. They have good ball skills, man coverage, but in our system you have to tackle. You have to be physical, there’s no ifs, ands or buts about it and both of them have done a great job with tackling. To answer your question, he’s a heck of a ballplayer.”

I would agree.  But I’ve been waiting all year for someone to take advantage of Jennings short stature.  Hopefully I’ll still be waiting next week.

Q: What’s the difference between a porcupine and Lambeau Field?

A: The pricks are on the outside of a porcupine.

  • Marinelli, again via the Tribune, on Brian Urlacher, who the Bears were missing all last year:

“The biggest thing he does is he brings a calming effect to the entire defense because he they know if something comes up that is a surprise or whatever, he’s going to handle it. It’s a tremendous calming effect for the defense. His verbiage, his communication, is always right. He’s able to put the players in the good situation all the time. So it’s a comforting feeling for a coach, but also for the defensive team.”

Q: What do you call a Packer fan with a sheep under his arm?

A: A pimp.

“It’s part of what we are, built in. You have to adjust all four guys that are rushing, unless we’re blitzing, they’ve got to work together. I always tell them four equals one. We have to know where each other is. Each guy has got to do his job and be accountable. You can’t let it take the aggressiveness out of our pass rush.”

Q: Why is it a good idea to bring a Packer fan along to a Vikings game?

A: You can park in the handicap zone.

  • Fred Mitchell at the Tribune points out that beginning Friday, the bronze lions guarding the Art Institute will sport a Bears helmet (south Lion) and earmuffs and scarf (north Lion) throughout the weekend.

Q: What do you call a sober Packer fan?

A: A liar.

Q: How do you save a drowning Packer fan?

A: Take your foot off his head.

  • Mark Schlereth at ESPN makes his pick. Jerk:


  • Eric Mangini discusses how the Jets might go about beating the Steelers Sunday with‘s Mike Florio:

Breaking sports news video. MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL highlights and more.

  • Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu missed practice again yesterday.  I’m guessing he’ll play but if he’s less than 100% it could be a huge blow to the Steelers.  Via Florio.
  • We’ve heard repeatedly about how good Bears long snapper Patrick Mannelly is but Pro Bowl coach Mike Smith chose to go in another direction (via Michael David Smith at
  • Todd McShay at ESPN has released his first mock draft:

One Final Thought

Jon Stewart has a message just for Patriot fans (via The Sports Pickle):