Few teams have a plan for losing five offensive tackles to injury. Typically, the loss of multiple starters -- let alone every reserve -- completely short-circuits an offense and exposes the quarterback to dangerous hits. Yet impressively, Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy found a way to adjust to an injury-plagued O-line with just four days preparation.
With two guards kicking outside to cover the absence of David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga and all of the team's reserve offensive tackles, the Packers had to significantly adjust their game plan. To accommodate the makeshift unit, they leaned more on their running backs than at any other time this season: 23 attempts split between four ball carriers. McCarthy sagely opted not to abandon the run even after Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams departed with injuries. The heavy focus on the ground game played to the strengths of emergency starters Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick and wore down Chicago's defensive front.
In passing situations, the Packers utilized a bevy of route combinations to scheme open receivers quickly, largely negating the Bears' pass rush. Aaron Rodgers' four touchdown passes best illustrate McCarthy's approach. On the opening score, the Packers lined up two wideouts in a stack with Randall Cobb serving as essentially a lead blocker to open up the path for Davante Adams. Adams needed only to push through one tackle at the goal line to read pay dirt. Cobb received his chance to score less than a minute later, with Adams running a sluggo route to clear the zone for Cobb's ankle-breaking out-and-in maneuver. The final two touchdown passes went to Jordy Nelson, who scored first on a pick play and later on a brilliant three-receiver combo that left him completely unattended in the back corner of the end zone.
Those schematic adjustments not only allowed the Packers to improve to 3-1, but they helped the offense reach its highest levels of productivity thus far in 2017. Just as importantly, the Packers kept Rodgers cleaner than anyone could have reasonably expected. Less than a week after absorbing six sacks for 33 combined yards, Rodgers went down just twice for a total loss of 10.
The performance suggests that once Bakhtiari, Bulaga, and the cavalcade of injured contributors return, the Packers should re-establish themselves as one of the most versatile and potent offenses in the league. They have 10 days to rest before taking the field again against the Dallas Cowboys.
Packers might have seen Mike Glennon for the last time in a Bears uniform
While multiple factors conspired against the Bears on Thursday night, Mike Glennon ultimately did them in. The lanky quarterback turned the ball over four times, three of which resulted in touchdowns for the Packers. Glennon's stinker of a performance reignited questions about whether Chicago might finally turn over the offense to first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky.
After the game, Bears head coach John Fox offered little support for Glennon.
"We'll evaluate everything," Fox said in response to a question about a possible quarterback change. "We've got a lot of work to do before we line up against Minnesota Monday night and we're going to look at everything."
The Bears have 11 days between games, which provides plenty of time to get Trubisky ready to play. Additionally, the team's five preferred starters along the offensive line have finally returned to action and running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen can take much of the pressure off Trubisky's shoulders. Accordingly, Chicago might not have a better window in which to prepare the No. 2 overall pick for NFL action.
Even if they opt against starting the rookie next week, it looks increasingly unlikely that Glennon lasts until Chicago's next rendezvous with Green Bay. Barring an injury or an unforeseeable development, expect to see Trubisky under center when the two teams reconvene on Nov. 12.