The Nick Collins loss hurts. Peprah did fill in nicely last year for Burnett when he went down. And Burnett has flashed some moments already of serious talent. But Burnett is not Collins and the Packers will miss Collins. Collins is fast, a good hitter, generally takes good angles and has a knack for causing turnovers. He will be missed.
That said, it’s not all doom and gloom in the secondary. In fact, when considering the present state of the pass defense – a fair argument could be made that it’s simply not possible to play any worse as a pass defense. It can only get better from here. Tramon being back will help.
So far the Bears have given up 11 sacks in two games. That’s really bad. Now that Gabe Carimi is out, that could make them even more vulnerable. However, if Martz and Cutler truly do change the offensive game plan (like they’ve said they would) to run more and to throw quicker/shorter passes, they may be able to reduce the damage a bit. Only problem with that is that I’m not sure Cutler is well-suited to a quick passing game. There is just something about Cutler’s style – he doesn’t seem to play with the sense of urgency the great QBs of today play with. I think, at least sometimes, Cutler isn’t thinking/deciding quick enough and that’s part of the reason he gets sacked so much.
This is a strange game. I can see the Packers losing or the Packers winning comfortably. The thing I can’t see is a close, exciting game. If the Pack loses, the team will shrug it off and quickly move on. A loss for us would be far less damaging to the Pack than a loss for the Bears. And a blowout by the Packers, which is very possible, would result in the Bears being done for the year. As you may remember, I have the Bears going 5-11 this year. One of these weeks their team direction (down) will become very apparent.
Dom Capers needs to step up his game some. Not only has the D looked ragged, but already in just the first 2 games there have been some specific defensive play calls that were really bad. In game 1, with the Saints driving at the end he called a blitz for two of his most exhausted defenders (Hawk and Bishop) – one of whom continues to prove he’s too slow to EVER get a blitz call (Hawk). The call led to an easy completion by Brees of 20+ yards keeping the drive alive. At that moment, it was an incredibly bad call. But the horrendous pass defense needs to be figured out asap. I know Collins’ injury hurts but like I said before, it can’t possibly get any worse. Capers needs to figure out different blitz/rush packages to take advantage of the attention paid to Matthews. And/or he needs to start lining Matthews up all over to throw offenses off. If S’oto were healthy I think he’d fill this role nicely. But I’m not sure if he’s playing Sunday and the other guys aren’t cutting it. We may need to bring more regular pressure from Woodson and the CBs and safeties. Last week Cam Newton had a few plays where he had so much time back there that anyone could have completed a pass. If there is such a thing as a coverage sack, there ought to be such a thing as a no-pass-rush-completion.
If there is such a thing as a coverage sack, there ought to be such a thing as a no-pass-rush-completion. (I restated this as a separate bullet point because I like it.)
Forte is a huge part of the Chicago offense. Last week, we let RB Jonathan Stewart catch 8 passes for 100 yards. While we totally shut down the running game, we didn’t shut down the short passing game to Stewart. Forte can do this same thing to us and we need to do everything possible to wrap him up. I almost think we should consider having Woodson or Bishop or someone shadow Forte/have primary responsibility for him. Let the other guys beat us if they can, but don’t let Forte beat us.
Considering that the Bears play a cover 2 that for whatever reason seems to give Rodgers a bit of trouble (at least w/re to getting his WRs involved), I’d recommend that MM work particularly hard early on to get Starks and Grant involved in the passing game. Some running plays, play action, screens, RBs in the slot, fake handoffs – whatever. Get these guys involved to bring the safeties in and condense the field. Then take advantage of the inevitable cheating by the Bears’ safeties and take some shots deep – expanding the field.
* I actually thought once the Panthers went up 13-0, the defense looked pretty good. Here’s how the Panthers drives ended after that: Punt, Interception, Punt, Interception, Fumble, Interception, Field goal, Downs, TD.
* The defense has also looked very good in the redzone (a big part of the win in both games–I think that’s why CAR didn’t go for it when they had 4th+1 at the goal line: too much respect for the D)
* I noticed that, other than the long TD to Devery Henderson, Saints didn’t get any big plays on offense. I suspect that’s how GB@CHI is going to be: not a lot of big plays, and close into the 2nd half.
* The Bears are really going to want to win this game. Given the state of their o-line and WR corps, they’re going to have a very tough time of it, but I expect there’s going to be a lot of hard hits, and Urlacher, Peppers, and Tillman will all be fired up.
Dave you are a real Glass Half Full kind of guy. I wish I had that kind of optimism. Me, I fall on the Half Empty side of the ledger. 951 total yards of offense for the Opponents is not good defense its fllpin awful. If the Bears get 400+ this week chalk it up as a loss.
I am hoping Capers gets the problem solved this week. If he does, Pack wins no sweat. If he doesn’t it’s a big L
Starks will be key in this game. Bear D is bend and don’t break and hope one or two broken plays in row end your drive. Beating it takes patience and the most effective way is to run effectively on first down. Starks is the key.
On defense, it has all been about the lack of pass rush. I think Capers has been saving his best blitz stuff for this game. he sent Woodson a bunch last time we played them….
This game means everything to the Bears but packers prevail.
I’m expecting Lovie Smith to use a lot of screen passes. He’s got to be expecting us to rush his QB, especially with their depleted line. I’d expect coach MM to respond by keeping someone (Desmond B?) “home” and play the screen.
This speculation is related to your earlier words on keeping DB on Forte. I don’t know if Forte gets all the screens, but he’s the likely candidate.