I have listened to some radio shows in recent days talking about the Packers/Bears game. And one thing few people seem to be talking about is the defense of the Bears. Most of the attention (around here anyway) is on how awesome Rodgers is, how great our WRs are and how easily Cutler will be rattled by Matthews. All of those things are/may be true. But nobody seems to be giving the Bears’ D any credit here.
I am really concerned about the Bears’ defense. Lance Briggs is a very good player. Urlacher isn’t as good as he used to be but he is essentially the soul of the defense so he maintains a significant on-field presence (and he’s still savvy enough to make big-time plays). Peppers is the guy people refer to now when talking about the Bears’ D – and he’s back and as good as advertised – but to me, the one thing over time that is often overlooked is the Bears’ D-Line. Mark Anderson and Tommie Harris are also disruptive players. The line seems to be able to get pressure often rushing just 4-5 (and sometimes even 3). I realize their overall defensive personnel has been better in the past, but they still have some quality players. (I should throw Charles Tillman in there with the good ones, not because he’s technically that good of a CB anymore, but more because he can be standing still picking dandelions and somehow cause a turnover.)
Last Sunday, the Bears’ D held the Dallas running game (Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice – 3 very good backs), to 36 yards. And after two games, the Bears are leading the NFL in rushing defense giving up an average of just 28 yards per game. I know it’s only been 2 games but that’s ridiculous. So, assuming we struggle with our running game, that puts extra pressure on Rodgers and frankly our O-Line to keep Rodgers standing if he has to throw all day. And of course, without much of a running game, our clock management, offensive balance and ability to give our defense a rest all suffer.
So to me, these are the key questions for tonight’s game: will McCarthy still try and force the run, and if so, can Brandon Jackson deliver? Will the Bears play the run as aggressively as they did last week or will they disrespect it like Buffalo started to do last week?
I think this will be a better game than most people seem to think.