Despite a very strong showing from the Chicago Bears defense this season, there are certain areas that can be exploited by an offense like the Green Bay Packers.
In fact, the Bears defensive philosophy has a weakness by design. In their Tampa 2 style of defense, middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is vacating the usual spot of the middle linebacker to become a third safety and cover the middle of the field. Most teams try to attack this the same way they would attack a Cover 2 and send their tight ends and slot receivers down the seams.
But when they do that, Urlacher is usually running with the receiver step-for-step. So instead of attacking the Bears in the seams, the Packers would be better served running a plethora of underneath routes right into the middle of the field.
You know, the spot where Urlacher would be standing in a usual defense.
With receivers like Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson who are very good at gaining yards after the catch, it will be difficult for the Bears to keep those guys under wraps with a running start. And if Aaron Rodgers can consistently hit them in stride (which he can), it’s going to be hard to stop them at all.
After hitting a few of those passes, Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli will be forced to keep Urlacher in the middle of the field to defend it. Once that happens, the Packers can then attack the seams as the Tampa 2 turns into more of a traditional Cover 2.
And once the Packers offense begins dictating what the Bears must do defensively, it’s going to be very hard for Chicago to adjust before Rodgers throws four touchdowns and puts the game almost entirely out of reach.
That all sounds very easy, but the key is going to be protecting Rodgers. If the Bears front four can get in his face, it won’t matter how open the receivers are. Rodgers has shown that, while he can be great at times, he will succumb to a heavy pass rush. If the Bears defense can hit him a couple times he will start making mistakes and forcing passes.
And with that opportunistic secondary lurking, forcing passes could mean disaster for the Packers.
Andrew Quarless, Brandon Jackson, and James Starks will have to be counted upon more as blockers than playmakers. Chad Clifton is a Pro Bowl left tackle, but does anyone trust he can handle Julius Peppers on his own? Clifton might not even believe he can handle Peppers on his own.
Chipping him and just straight double-teams will be a necessity. The young players will also be asked to diagnose and block Marinelli’s blitzes as well.
If the Pack can contain Peppers, they should be able to out-duel Jay Cutler and the Bears offense. But containing Peppers has proven easier said than done.