Chicago Sun-Times

Keys to the game for the Bears at Green Bay

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I'm going to point the car north toward Green Bay here very soon and make good use of cruise control. No need to catch the attention of Wisconsin's version of Ponch and John. Before I push off, let's go over what I believe are some keys to the game for the Bears:

1. Pass rush. We can just cement this one atop the list just about every week. The Bears have to be able to get after the quarterback, Aaron Rodgers in this instance, with their down linemen. Otherwise, the Tampa Two scheme is really compromised. Say you want to blitz Rodgers? You better get there. His passer rating was over 107 last season vs. the blitz. That's a real roll of the dice.

2. Matt Forte. The quickest way to take what will be an energized Lambeau Field crowd out of the game will be a nice, long drive. Jay Cutler has been the focus ever since the Bears traded for him back on April 2, but Ron Turner will show you quickly that the Bears, indeed, got off the bus in Green Bay running.

3. Wide receivers. I broke it down in Saturday's paper how the Bears' wide receivers totaled just seven receptions in two games vs. the Packers last season. Charles Woodson and Al Harris simply manhandled the Bears' receivers. They're going to need to make some plays for Cutler, particularly on third downs. They don't have to have huge games--we'll see very quickly that Greg Olsen is probably his go-to target--but they have to make plays at key junctures.

4. Weak lead. That is the play Ryan Grant ran for huge chunks of yardage in the game at Lambeau Field last season. He was getting 10 yards before a defender would be near him. Basically, it's a run play that is designed to let the back pick his hole. Grant runs along the line, looks for one player to be out of position, and hits it upfield. The Bears must maintain gap integrity, or he will gash them again. If the Packers are running the ball, Rodgers will be even more difficult to stop.

5. Special teams. The Bears have been one of the best units in the league since Dave Toub arrived. The Packers traditionally have struggled, but they have improved of late. Devin Hester had a punt return for a touchdown in his first game at Lambeau Field. It sure would be a boost for the Bears if they can win the battle of field position with special teams.

10 players to watch

1. Pisa Tinoisamoa. He might have had a better preseason than any other linebacker. He's only going to play two downs, he comes out in the nickel, but look for the impact he makes on the defense.

2. Charles Tillman. If he plays, how does he perform? The Packers are going to go right at him. How will he respond?

3. Orlando Pace. Let's see how the aging left tackle responds when the lights come on. He got better as the preseason went on, and Cutler was not sacked once in what amounted to about 4 1/2 quarters of action.

4. Chris Williams. On the flip side of the line, this is the first start for the 2008 first-round draft pick.

5. Tommie Harris. The Bears paid him a $6.67 million roster bonus in March. They're interested in seeing a return on their investment starting tonight.

6. Al Afalava. The rookie sixth-round draft pick is expected to start at strong safety. Will he be the only contributor from another "redshirt" draft class?

7. Zack Bowman. He should get his first start at one of the corner positions. The hope here is he stays healthy.

8. Adewale Ogunleye. The drive for a contract for the 32-year-old free agent to be starts right here. He's going against a new starter in Allen Barbre. This is the kind of matchup Ogunleye needs to win to convince the Bears to re-invest in him.

9. Mark Anderson. Where have you gone?

10. Earl Bennett. His next catch will be his first as a pro. Our guess on Bennett's production for tonight? How about six receptions for 72 yards.

Now, we're off to avoid the speed traps.

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Couldn't agree more.

Strategically, the pass rush is critical in this game as in all when you're running the Tampa Two.

Tactically, #2 is paramount. Having gone to school in WI during "We'll never forget you Brent" Favre's heydays, I know that the average PackerBacker is about a shorty deep on his way to two dozen pops on opening weekend, Sunday night football against their most hated rival. Yeah, that stadium will be more intense than the Denver preseason game and a long 98-drive would set an incredible tempo for the game. Here's looking at you Jay Cutler.

Good news for the BEARS, ESPN talking heads all took slackers for tonight's game. The team is still getting no real respect Nationally, this is typical when it comes to the team, either we are strickly one dimensional (No QB), or we play a weak schedule (division-lack of respect) to get our wins. We make a statement tonight that we have a well rounded football team if we go in and get win.

Our season is predicated by two things; 1) we need some new playmakers to emerge on the defensive side of the ball, not to say that Briggs, Harris, and Brian are done, but someone else needs to step up to make teams game plan for, my candidates for this role are Payne, and Harrison. Both have Pro-Bowl potential and play key positions in the defense to make us formidable again. Bowman, Adams, Izzy provide quality depth but are not Pro-bowl calibre types. 2) Offense-wide outs all the talking heads say we have no one to catch Cutler's passes, but we need to spread the ball around, which he has done in the Pre-season to be competitive. Bennett and Hester could catch 40-50 balls each at a minimum, expect to see 75 catches from Olsen and another 55-60 from Forte (if he stays healthy), this would mean that we need additional production from a third down receiver Aramashdou (20-30 balls) and Clark with 40-45 catches. This would give us anywhere from 280-350 receptions in the year, this and a solid running game should make our offense greatly improved and give us a shot at 10-11 wins which should be a playoff team.
Tonight I'm sticking with my ealrlier prediction BEARS 24-Slackers 16, and packerslacker eats crow on our blog in the first week. Go BEARS

I look for a heavy dose of Matt Forte tonight. The key, run blocking. Chicago needs to come out tonight and establish their running game, and its gonna start up front. I would love to see some push from Chicago's offensive line tonight. Packer rookie B.J Raji can get some push, Chicago can't have that, Garza and Omiyale need to earn their money tonight, so run-blocking is gonna be a major key.

Of course on the other side of the ball Chicago needs to be able to put pressure on Rodgers with their front four, this is key. I also like the matchup of Ogunleye vs Allen Barbre, a former guard. Ogunleye needs to take advantage of this and get constant pressure on Rodgers tonight. Alex Brown always comes to play, I'm not worried about him, but his understudy Mark Anderson needs to get back to his rookie form and be able to get to the quarterback coming in on third down like he did as a rookie. Tonight we get to see just how healthy Tommie Harris really is, if he is good to go, Chicago should have to problem inside with their DT's vs the Packs interior.

And yes, Chicago needs their receivers to make some plays tonight, especially on third down. The key, no drops. Simply catch the ball, a nice play of 20 plus yards would be nice, but don't drop the ball on 2nd and 5 or 3rd and 7 type plays. These type of drops are major drive killers, Chicago doesn't need to many of them tonight. The key, simply catching the ball. But I would love to see a couple deep balls down field to Devin Hester.

In the end, I say Chicago wins 24-17, hope I'm wrong and they win 49-0 GO BEARS!!

Brad when the Packers ran that weak lead do you know who were the defensive linmen that were not maintaining gap disapline allowing them to run at will? I myself do not recall, but I seem to recall Grant running to his right an awful lot.

If you believe in Karma then the Bears are about to loose this game on the arm of Cutler. Orton just won in Denver after looking horrible all game, he throws 25 yard a pass with 20 seconds left on the clock, the Ball bounces off a defender 12 feet into the arms of Stokley who then runs it 60 yards for a TD. Better to be lucky then good. Which would mean of course that Cutler must look good the whole game and then throw a pick 6 with 20 seconds left on the clock to balance out the universe. Lovie take Jay out the last min of the game if we are up.

I just hope it is close, Packers have the home field advantage, and every pundit I heard today said they liked either the Packers or Giants to go to the Super Bowl. Most saying the Packers. For me the game will come down to the Packers Defense and how effective they are.

27-23 go Bears.

By the way this is the Orton play, its as rare a play as you will see in the NFL.

Brad I almost forgot you should point out to Lovie that keeping it a secret as to who your starting corners are will not help you win. Mangenius tried that wih the his QB's and the Browns still got there butts kicked. I doubt the Bears change there defensive scheme based on Tillman or any player on the defense. In fact half of them could be injured and they would still run the same defensive plays.

You really need to tell Lovie he is acting like Mangenius, its not a good thing to act like him. Do you think GB is sitting there going "OMG what if Tillman plays, what kind of Defense will the Bears run, are they switching to a 3-4 and if so what style?"

Its really a little desperate, which is a bad sign.

Its tough for me take the Bears to win this game but I am doing it more with my heart than my head. The good news is the CLE, DET, SEA, STL, ARI and Bungles all look awful. Mcnabb may be hurt,

Defend your own field, split with MIN and and GB and beat the bad teams and the Bears are in the playoffs. Beating PIT who does not look all that great would really help as well.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on September 13, 2009 10:26 AM.

Tillman to be questionable for Sunday's opener at Green Bay was the previous entry in this blog.

Tillman, Vasher expected to start at cornerback is the next entry in this blog.

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