On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers face the Chicago Bears, renewing the oldest rivalry in the NFL. Josh Sunderbruch of Windy City Gridiron was kind enough to answer some of our questions about the Bears and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.
APC: Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen have become the crux of the Bears offense so far this season. How healthy do they appear entering Thursday night's game, and how do you anticipate the team splitting the work between them?
Cohen seems to be pretty resilient, and there are no injury flags so far. Howard is tougher, because he seems to have reinjured his shoulder and legitimately could have come out of the Steelers games a couple of different times. My guess is Howard will play, but that the early plan will be to use Cohen to get the ball moving and to use Howard as a battering ram. Cohen has only gotten about a third of the carries so far, but I could see that sliding to 50/50 if Howard’s shoulder is still sore.
APC: The Bears come off an impressive and weird victory over the Steelers. Did the game reveal that Chicago has a higher ceiling than previously believed?
The Falcons game showed that the team has pieces in place, and so the theoretical ceiling was already there. The Steelers game, honestly, mostly just confirmed that the team has some playmakers and that anything can happen in football. Relying on special teams is a low percentage strategy, so I’d say that the Bears have set themselves up as “trap game” specialists this season, but nothing more until they string together multiple wins.
APC: In three starts, Mike Glennon doesn't seem to have improved since his Tampa days. At what point, if any, will the Bears' coaching staff consider a change, and what expectations do you have for No. 2 overall pick Mitchell Trubisky as a rookie?
Improved? Funny man. Glennon has regressed. His 4.17 ANY/A is lower than his career average in Tampa Bay (it’s actually lower than Mark Sanchez’s career average, somehow), and he is getting guys hurt. I mean that quite sincerely—he is throwing guys into trouble. Someone should take his helmet. That said, I believe the Bears have a plan that makes sense to them, even if it doesn’t make sense to anyone else, and so they are going to stick to that plan pretty stubbornly. Have I mentioned that Glennon is bad?
The hope around these parts is that Trubisky comes in after the bye. As for what to expect—I think a typical rookie performance with some real flashes of promise, maybe a brief surge before teams get tape on him, and at least three games that show how raw he is. I fully expect that he’ll struggle, but he almost has to be better than Glennon, and he’ll probably equal what Watson is managing.
APC: If tasked with game planning against the Bears, how would you attack them on offense? On defense?
Attack them on offense by putting the game on Glennon. Win in the trenches and cover the easy reads (which he lock onto). Make him uneasy and force his tendency to check down. This team goes nowhere without its running game, so forcing Glennon to carry the offense will more or less neutralize the ability to move the ball. As for the defense, having #12 is a pretty good plan for attacking any defense. In this case, it looks like Adrian Amos will have to come in for Quintin Demps at safety, and the next interception Amos manages will be his first. The Front 7 is pretty good against the run, but a mobile quarterback can roll out and attack the edges, because there just aren’t enough defensive difference makers to take away everything.
APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Which team wins on Thursday and why?
As long as scores stay low, this looks like an upset to me. I’ve predicted that the Bears will edge out a victory, and it’s really because of the lines. If Rodgers even had a mediocre line, or if the Bears had lost Hicks instead of Demps, then I think that Green Bay wins basically by showing up. However, the Bears do have a solid run game with a decent offensive line, and the same can’t be said about Green Bay. Rodgers should be able to make up basically all of that difference, but I also prefer the Bears’ D-line to Green Bay’s. The Packers’ biggest defensive strength, in my estimation, is being able to shut down a passer. Since Glennon comes shut down already, I think some talent goes to waste, there.
We'd like to thank Josh 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 Thursday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Bears vs. Packers.