Surprise Element No Longer Packer Ally Against Bears
The element of surprise no longer comes down completely on the side of the Green Bay Packers, especially when trying to stop Mitchell Trubisky.
In the season opener for the Bears, the Green Bay offense could spring surprises from unscouted looks on offense and their defense came in completely revamped personnel-wise. The Packers defense, in particular, stunned the Bears.
"I think we talked about it after the game–it seemed like after that first couple drives, everybody was shell-shocked, and we didn’t react well, coaches and players," Bears offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said.
A season's worth of matchups exposes about anything a team can bring out of a playbook. And the Bears especially feel their offense is capable of facing the Packers with Mitchell Trubisky playing at a higher level.
"I just feel like we're kind of in a rhythm now," coach Matt Nagy said. "We're a different team. There were some things that we had to go through in the first game and the beginning of the season that just didn't go our way, and there's things we definitely learned from as an offense.
"I just feel like we have a new-found identity of what we want to do and everybody is really locked into what they have to do within their job description on the offense."
At this point in the season, injury attrition makes an impact as well. The Bears definitely are different on defense than in the first game without either starting inside linebacker on the field.
"They're going to have something different. We’ll have something different for them," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said.
Winning these four matchups can take the Bears a step closer to being true factors in the wild-card playoff race.
OLB Leonard Floyd vs. LT David Bakhtiari
Floyd's success at playing the Packers hasn't been so much beating Bakhtiari or Brian Bulaga on the other side straight out on his pass rush, but keeping pressure on while getting off the block once Aaron Rodgers starts moving around in or outside the pocket. Floyd has 7 1/2 sacks in seven games against the Packers, and 11 in his 44 other games. Bakhtiari fought through some back issues early, and has committed a career-high 12 penalties, although he is having a successful season from a pass-blocking standpoint with 2 1/2 sacks allowed according to STATS Inc. It's tied for a career low.
CB Prince Amukamara vs. WR Davante Adams
The Bears limited Adams to four catches for 36 yards in the opener. Adams then went on to an injury plagued year and has started nine of the 13 games. His catch total (56) and touchdown production (3) will likely be as low as he's had since his second season as a result. It's certain the Packers will try to get him matched up on Amukamara, who is coming into the game off of a week off due to a hamstring injury. Amukamara's hamstring withstood a week of full practices, but late in the year they're often softer practices. Whether he can handle the sharp cuts and backward movement in a game remains to be seen. And will be be able to go up and disrupt a back-shoulder throw or jump ball to the 6-foot-1, 215-pound Adams with his hamstring like it is?
WR Anthony Miller vs. CB Tramon Williams
The hot, young receiver goes up against the 36-year-old slot corner who mouthed off about Mitchell Trubisky after the Packers won in September. Miller had no role in the first game with the Packers but has 24 catches for 313 yards in his last four games. The Bears need his presence in the middle of the field running routes to take pressure off Trubisky and inexperienced tight ends. Williams should be able to handle Miller's speed downfield, but it's the shorter routes where the Bears would love to get Miller open for yards after the catch following a sharp cut and catch. Williams' experience allows him to reroute receivers and its here where Miller has gotten into trouble in the past. Running a route too long in the Rams game led to a costly Trubisky interception.
LT Charles Leno Jr. vs. OLB Preston Smith
Smith leads the Packers in sacks with 11 1/2 and doesn't do it with blazing speed or an overpowering bull rush, but rather overall technique and smarts. He plays the scheme the way the Packers need, and in this case it's designed to keep Trubisky pocketed. Leno Jr. needs to keep Smith occupied. He can't release at any point expecting a play is over or decided. It has to be to the whistle. Leno had a holding and illegal use of hands called in the first game. He has drastically cut back on penalties over the last five weeks, and has allowed six sacks according to STATS Inc.