We all remember last years Week 1 game on Sunday Night Football, and in case you didn’t I added in the highlights. This game is going to be much different, first of all its the Thursday Night Kickoff game, Vic Fangio is out as the Bear DC, Mike McCarthy is out as the Packers HC, and the Packers on defense have a completely different roster. Bears fans have been very chirpy on the Twitter this offseason because they believe Bears are about to have another 12-4,13-3 season and their defense wont drop off at all and Trubisky is going to make a second year jump. Im not saying those things wont happen, but for the Bears to repeat what they did on defense in 2018 would be a remarkable feat. Its amazing what one good season does to a fan base that isn’t used to winning on a consistent basis. Enough on the off season, lets take a look at this game from the Packers and Bears perspective.
When the Packers Are on Offense
Matt LaFleur is bringing in a brand new offense that is supposed to look something like the Kyle Shanahan offense in San Francisco, with a little mix of the Sean McVay Los Angeles Rams. What both those teams don’t have that LaFleur has, is one of the best QB s in the game in Aaron Rodgers. Now lets get this out of the way first Packer fans: as great as Aaron Rodgers is, implementing this new offense is going to come with its problems. It does not help the Packers at all that not only do they have to open up with the Bears, but they have to play the Vikings, Broncos, and Eagles shortly after which all have very good defenses. So what does that mean for the Bears game? Don’t expect to see a finely tuned machine, more so in the passing game than the rushing game.
The best thing that can help the Packers offense is establishing the run early and being effective with it. The Bears obviously know this, as much as people drool over the Shanahan and McVay passing game, their offenses revolve around a great running game first and foremost. Aaron Jones has the ability to be a 1,000 yard rusher but he needs to stay healthy for one, and he needs a coach that will give him the bulk of the carries which I believe LaFleur will do.
In regards to the passing game, I’d expect to see new concepts but also some plays that look a lot like what McCarthy ran because this offense is going to be a mingling of McCarthy, LaFleur, Shanahan, and McVay. As time goes on I would expect LaFleurs presence to emerge from the other but for Week 1 in year 1 under LaFleur, don’t be surprised to see some familiar looking plays. We also have confirmation that in two minute drills Rodgers is going to be calling plays, which lends towards the idea that we’ll see some McCarthy concepts in this game.
Individually the Packers need production from someone outside of Davante Adams at WR. GMO had a good game last year against the Bears catching that bomb of a TD, and he needs to be big in this one. The Bears did lose Bryce Callahan who was one of the best slot CBs in the league last year, that is a spot the Packers can exploit. Also the Packers didn’t use their RBs out of the backfield much last year against the Bears. This year they have Jones and FB Danny Vitale who can catch the ball well, hopefully we find out how well the Bears LBs can cover the RB.
When the Packers Are on Defense
It’s year two for Mitch Trubisky in Matt Nagy’s offense and a ton of eyes are going to be on him to see if he can make the jump. I think it’s pretty much agreed on the Bears defense isn’t going to create as many turnovers (gives the Bears offense short fields), and score as many TDs as they did in 2018. What that means is the Bears need to be more effective on offense with Trubisky.
The Bears do have a lot of weapons for him to work with: Rookie RB David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton. Plus the Bears have a great offensive line. So what is the biggest challenge for the Packers?First off is stopping the run. Nagy runs a very unique offense that is a lot like the Chiefs and they’ll get rushing yards in any way possible: your basic RB designed runs, QB designed runs, and jet sweeps with WRs.
The Packers were not great at stopping the run last year but besides Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez the Packers are going to have a completely different front 7 then what the Bears went up against in 2018. To beat the Bears on offense you gotta make Trubisky be the guy to beat and there’s no better way to do that then to make him throw the ball. Secondly, is get pressure on Trubisky which the Packers were also poor at last year. Although the Bears have good weapons on the outside, Allen Robinson is really the only guy that scares you and with Jaire Alexander and Kevin King at CB the Packers should be well equipped to slow him down. Much like the rushing defense the pass rushers for the defense are all different besides Kyle Fackrell. The Smith brothers and Rookie Rashan Gary need to make an impact by getting consistent pressure on Trubisky.
I am not saying this teams needs to have 5 sacks at the end of the game to win but making Trubisky uncomfortable back there is critical. Finally the secondary for the Packers is also changed quite a bit. Last year guys like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kentrell Brice, Josh Jones, Raven Greene, Ibraheim Campbell, and Tramon Williams all manned the safety position at one point or another and well quite frankly, the Packers didn’t get a great play out of any of them most of the time. Now the Packers have Adrian Amos (from Chicago) and Rookie Darnell Savage Jr. back there to tighten things up. Combine that with a healthy Alexander and King, then Tramon Williams, and second year guys Josh Jackson and Tony Brown, and you have Packers secondary that looks very good on paper for the first time in awhile. So what’s the biggest thing here for the Packers? Limit the chunk plays. I can’t count how many times the Packers got teams behind the sticks and then gave up a huge passing play., most likely in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 17.
The biggest wild card here is going to be limiting Tarik Cohen on his catches. Matt Nagy is going to try and get Cohen at least 15 touches a game in my opinion and when he does get the ball, the Packers need to limit what he does.Everything the Packers defense comes down to one thing, one thing they did an awful job of in the preseason and that is tackling. The Packers need to fucking tackle win if they’re going to stop the Bears. I don’t care if someone grabs Trubisky on a passing play but lets him go, it won’t matter if CBs are in the right position to tackle Cohen for only a 2 yard gain but whiff. On paper this Packers defense should be a huge upgrade from the past couple year, but they need to make a god damn tackle.
As of this writing the Chicago Bears are favored by 3 points which means on a neutral field Vegas sees this game a coin toss. Biased picked here but I’ll take the 3 points with a healthy and motivated Aaron Rodgers over a Mitch Trubisky led Chicago Bears.