Last year, the Packers embarrassed the Bears at Lambeau Field 37-3. Aaron Rodgers had all day in the pocket; completing balls to Driver, Jennings and Lee (and six others) by owning the center of our defense. To add insult, Ryan Grant and their big offensive line dominated our otherwise sturdy rush defense to the tune of 145 rushing yards and a fifteen minute edge in time of possession. It was the Bears worst performance of 2008 and it made me dry heave in the Josie Woods toilet.
Beating the Packers Sunday night will come down to breaking Rodgers’ rhythm. The Packers have had a much-ballyhooed preseason of offensive dominance and the only way to injure their confidence is to disrupt their rhythm right out of the box. An early sack. A well-timed interception. A three-and-out. Rodgers completed over 68% of his passes in the two games a year ago. He threw 69 times and was sacked nil. It’s not surprising that he was a massive Alex Brown hand from going 2-0 against the Bears in his first season as Packers quarterback.
And as successful a preseason as this was for the Bears, a dangerous trend continued. Trent Edwards went 10-for-10. Eli Manning went 7-for-10. Kyle Orton went 12-for-16. Starting quarterbacks this preseason completed 80% of their passes. The old axiom of establishing the run will be ignored by opposing offensive coordinators if the Bears continue to allow easy completions/yards in the passing game. When opponents are connecting at an 80% clip, why bother putting a tailback on the field? Teams used to run to setup the pass. Look for the opposite to be true against the Bears in 2009.
That’s why the first few series will be so important for the Bears defense Sunday night. This is the finest passing attack they’ll face all season long and if they allow Rodgers & Co. to move up and down the field at will, they’ll be in for a long evening. Our offense can not be expected to gel for 40 in their first full game of action. It’s imperative that the defensive unit – all but one of which returns from last season – set the tone for 2009.