I have a feeling that many of us are looking for more analysis at other portions of the defense coming into this week, and I don't blame you. The Packer defense looked soft and over matched by the 49ers. I'm not sure if that's a problem at corner, inside linebacker, or safety, but the problem was there and it was persistent. More troubling is that it may have invalidated the main assumption of the offseason by the Packers and their fans: that fixing the pass rush was the main key to fixing the defense.
I don't know if I'm ready to let go of that assumption yet, and so my first key match up is going to be Nick Perry and Gabe Carimi. The Bears had an interesting game against the Colts. In the first half their offense looked slow and lethargic. More telling was that when the Colts had both of their premiere pass rushers in the game the Bears' offensive line looked over matched. Once Dwight Freeney left the game with an ankle injury the Bear offensive line was able to settle in and the offense itself was able to move the ball.
I know what Clay Matthews can do and I have no problem with him facing up against J'Marcus Webb (or Chris Williams). What is interesting are the two unknowns on the other side of the field. Nick Perry's play was a mixed bag against the 49ers. He was able to get good pressure and penetration, more importantly he was able to free up Matthews and let him be a force of nature again. The problems that Perry had were in coverage, specifically when Perry was asked to cover wide receivers. His problems in coverage have to be noted, but at the same time I don't think many Packer fans would judge the success of Perry by his ability to cover this year. Next year, sure. This year, that may be a bit much to ask. Even next year I don't think many Packer fans would be dismayed if Perry struggles to cover WR's....that should be a match up that never ever happens with any of our OLB's.
The most common match up for Perry on Sunday is going to be Carimi, a former first round pick and bright shining hope for turning around the Bears offensive line troubles. To many Packer fans he is a bit like Bryan Bulaga. He is a solid tackle who may not have quite enough athletic skills to play LT, but should be a very good RT. The problem with him is healthy issues mainly. He suffered a knee injury early in the year last year and spent the rest of 2011 on IR.
If Perry is able to beat Carimi regularly then Cutler could be in for a long day. Jay Cutler is a better QB than Alex Smith, but he is also a QB with a bit slower a release and in an offense that needs a bit more time for WR routes to develop. This means that QB pressure (one area of the defense that did look okay last week) is once again the key to stopping the new Bears offense. Perry will play a critical role in causing that pressure. The man he has to be is Carimi.
Previous Packer vs. Bears Coverage:
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