The Green Bay Packers own the NFC North as of last season. What must the Chicago Bears do to overcome their longtime nemesis?
Ride Matt Forte
Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery get all the attention these days for the Bears offense, but it doesn’t change the fact that everything begins and ends with running back Matt Forte. The Green Bay Packers know that better than most teams. In two games last year the Pro Bowl running back posted 235 rushing yards, 101 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He is the catalyst of the offense and he plays his best against the Packers.
Trust Marc Trestman to his work with Jay Cutler
Chicago Bears fans only wish that were true for quarterback Jay Cutler, who has endured an ugly 1-9 record against Green Bay since joining the team in 2009. Not all of it is his fault, but there is no doubt his inability to even modestly effective against the Packers is a primary reason so many people still doubt him. However, last season offered signs of a breakthrough when Cutler posted 226 yards and two touchdowns in the regular season finale, good for a 103.8 QB rating, easily his best against the Packers as a Bear. It was a clear sign that the work head coach Marc Trestman put in on him is having an effect. Could more time yield further results?
Get to halftime with the lead
Since 2009, Chicago is a dismal 2-9 against the Packers. Such streaks typically reveal trends in the chaos and there certainly is a big one. Out of those nine losses, the Bears trailed at halftime in eight of them. It’s a fairly simple stat that sends a clear message. Green Bay is exceptional at protecting a lead in the second half. If the Bears want to overcome this hurdle they keep stumbling on, then they have to start taking advantage of opportunities earlier in ball games and getting into the locker room ahead. In fact Jay Cutler’s sole victory over them in 2010 was a game where the Bears were up 17-10 at the break. It’s a very simple but difficult feat to accomplish.
Attack Aaron Rodgers
More than ever the success of the Green Bay Packers goes through Aaron Rodgers. People will talk about running back Eddie Lacy but the fact is without Rodgers starting and finishing a game the Packers were 2-5-1. When he is neutralized or at least contained, Green Bay struggles to function. That is why the Chicago Bears need their pass rush to wake up in 2014. Jared Allen and his new teammates up front have to generate pressure consistently, even if they don’t sack Rodgers. If he’s allow to survey the field, like any elite quarterback he will make the play. Yet also like any quarterback, constantly getting hit and having hands in his face will disrupt everything he does.
The Bears won’t earn any respect until they prove they can beat the Packers when it counts. To do that will take supreme effort and keen understanding of their situation.