Two more games remain. The string, as they’re casually known. The Bears must play them out. And we loyal Chicago Bears fans must watch them do so. What’s saddest about this 2011 season is the fact that I spent about an hour Tuesday looking at the Bears 2012 opponents and getting excited about trips to both Jacksonville and Nashville.
WHY DO I LIKE THE CHICAGO BEARS THIS WEEK?
- I don’t. I’m not an idiot.
- But I do think the Green Bay Packers are showing significant, exploitable holes along the offensive line. The Bears have continued to play terrifically up front throughout this disastrous month and think about this: wouldn’t it make you slightly happy to see Julius Peppers plant Aaron Rodgers into the ground and end the Pack’s Super Bowl hopes when Rodgers limps to the sideline?
- The scary mismatch in this game is Brandon Meriweather and Craig Steltz at safety. Can those two guys stay disciplined and keep the Packers passing game in front of them? Can they take smart angles at receivers on slant routes and not allow a six-to-eight yard game become a game-breaking 45-yard touchdown?
- Jermichael Finley is going to be a thorn in the LoveRod Deuce next season as well and if I were the coaching staff I’d use Sunday night to experiment with assignments. We know the linebackers and healthy safeties can’t stay with him downfield so what about staying in nickel all night and perching DJ Moore in front of him? What about sliding Charles Tillman inside on third downs and leave Moore, Jennings outside to press the wideouts? These defensive players (with the IR’d safeties) will basically be the roster in 2012. I’d like to see Lovie try some things.
- People who say the Bears defense packed it in against the Seahawks in the second half last week simply weren’t watching. Even with the game winding down they collapsed the line of scrimmage and shut down a hot Marshawn Lynch. The Bears defense plays tough.
- (Ultimately I think all of the above will probably be moot analysis because the Bears will most likely give Aaron Rodgers and the Packers too many offensive possessions.)
- Is Josh McCown an upgrade over Caleb Hanie? I don’t care. I said after The Marion Barber Game I never wanted to see Barber play for the Bears again and I feel the same way about Hanie. He should never take another snap for the Bears. McCown has a real opportunity the next two weeks to play his way onto the 2012 roster, or at least earn himself a visit to Bourbonnais in July. And I think he’s going to have to throw the ball thirty times in this game for the Bears to have any semblance of a chance to win.
- With Hester still hobbling and Knox out the Bears are severely lacking in speed on the outside. I don’t know, maybe we can throw the ball to our best receiver? Is Earl Bennett Jay Cutler’s invisible friend? Why can’t anyone else see him, even when he’s wide open?
- And they must stay committed to the run until the game is well out of reach. Being down two touchdowns can’t scare Mike Martz into seven-step drops. He’s got to keep pounding the ball with Bell until literally the clock determines it’s no longer feasible.
- Dom Capers is going to attack Josh McCown with blitzes. This should leave plays to be made in the screen game to Kahlil Bell and over the middle to Kellen Davis. (We should be seeing a lot of snaps for Tyler Clutts and Matt Spaeth as the Bears go max-protect.)
- You know who the Bears need a huge performance out of in order to win this game? Adam Podlesh. Podlesh has been a terrific improvement over Brad Maynard but has not been a dominant punter by any means. When Bears drives falter, and they’re going to falter, Podlesh needs to force the Packers to take the longest journey possible to the end zone. Not inside the twenty. Inside the five. A few times. If the Packers consistently start drives at their own forty, the defense will have no shot.
I don’t pick the opponent.