On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers face archrival Chicago at Soldier Field. Kev H of Windy City Gridiron was kind enough to answer some questions about the Bears and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: The Chicago Bears opened up the wallet this offseason, handing out contracts to Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, and others. How have these free agent additions performed thus far, and what roles will they play this Sunday?
Generally speaking, pretty alright. We're not seeing quite as much on the stat sheet as we'd like (neither have an official sack), but they're logging a lot of pressure. I don't treat PFF as the end all be all, they both graded highly there last week.
This coming week, you can expect to see Allen playing an average run game, but teeing off against the pass like he always has. Houston will primarily play DE during running plays, but expect to see him kick inside and play DT while bringing in Willie Young for passing downs, as they'll send those four fast against the Packers to try and disrupt Packers.
APC: Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery form perhaps the best receiving duo in the league. However, both wideouts have struggled with injuries this season. What's their status for Week 4, and will their impact be limited?
Jeffery tweaked a hamstring in week 1, but has played in both primetime games with limited success. He seems obviously hampered by it, but is still able to go out and be productive (he's averaging about 74 yards/game, despite not playing over half of game 1). I don't see any reasons that he won't play and be effective.
Marshall suffered an ankle injury in the same game, and the following week went out and caught 3 TDs against the 49ers. This past week against the Jets, he aggravated that ankle injury and was limited, making only one catch for 6 yards. That said, I'd expect him to be taped up and ready to go because he's the kind of player you have to drag off the field. It's hard to say what that productivity level will be, but if the line can buy Jay time, I'm sure Marshall will have his standard game with plenty of targets.
APC: Kyle Fuller has begun his professional career with a bang, intercepting three passes and forcing two fumbles over the past two weeks. Has Fuller already established himself as the team's primary defensive playmaker, and what areas does he still need to work on?
He's getting pretty close to it, yeah. He's been a breath of fresh air for this defense, with everyone from coaches to players stating that he's just a different breed of football player. He's always learning, he's athletic, and he's hungry. The best three things you can ask for of any player, let alone someone who is now going to get the job of matching up against your Calvin Johnson's of the world. Losing Tillman hurts, but having him around to work with Fuller helps.
He's still young, and there's still a lot to be thrown at him. He'll need to continue to work on learning how to be physical in this league, as the rules continue to be stacked against his position. His plays so far have been based a little more on his athletic ability than his positioning would suggest, so he can continue to work on getting out of his pedal and reading quarterbacks, but he seems like he's going to be the real deal.
APC: If you were game planning against the Bears, how would you attack them on offense? On defense?
Attacking the offense, I'd work on contain and getting some pressure up the middle, particularly between the left guard and center. (Assuming that Ola and De La Puente are still the guys) Ola is the most green on the line, and the most susceptible to disguised coverages and stunts. If you can get to Jay early enough and often enough, he can sometimes see ghosts and play right into the defense.
On defense, I'd try to get a lot of misdirection, disguised, and packaged plays out. While Rodgers isn't known as a mobile quarterback in the sense of a Wilson or a Kaepernick, he's got some legs. If they can get the Bears to overpursue inside (and they will), it shouldn't be hard to let Rodgers do what he does, get outside, and extend the plays.
APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Which team wins on Sunday and why?
I think the Bears win, for a few reasons:
- I am a homer, and it is a home game.
- The Packers offense hasn't been quite clicking like we're used to seeing, and the Bears defense finally is clicking a bit after taking a year off.
- I think Martellus Bennett has a big game. I would imagine the Packers put a lot of focus on Jeffery and Marshall, and that will allow Bennett to work against the linebackers in pass coverage.
We'd like to thank Kev and Windy City Gridiron for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Bears. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Packers vs. Bears.