As they have since ancient times, the Chicago Bears have a strong defense. Bolstered by Khalil Mack, the Bears rank well in just about any defensive metric you choose.
Are there any weak spots the Green Bay Packers can exploit? To find out, we asked Jeff Berckes of Windy City Gridiron. If you haven’t already, check out Wednesday’s chat with Jeff to learn more about Chicago’s offense.
Acme Packing Company: As they always seem to, the Bears defense has scraped together some pretty strong performances this year. What’s the story on the defense overall?
Jeff Berckes: I… I don’t know if “scraped together” is an accurate description of this Bears defense. They’re really good. They have forced a lot of offenses to try and scrape together enough points to win games against them. They have “dudes” at every level of the defense. Khalil Mack is a top-five player at his position. Akiem Hicks, Kyle Fuller, Eddie Jackson are all established studs with Roquan Smith and rookie Jaylon Johnson putting together great campaigns. This group comes by it honestly.
If there’s a nitpick to be had with this side of the football, it’s that they haven’t been on the attack enough for my liking. The Bears defense has played some incredible bend-don’t-break defense this year, ranking near the top of the league in points allowed per game. Nevertheless, they’re middle of the road in sacks and turnovers. A lot of that has to do with a lack of positive game scripts for the defense to feast, but they haven’t unleashed the full power of this defense in neutral scripts either. It’s like hiring Picasso and having him paint your living room a dull gray. I’m sure he’d do a great job but really, he could do a lot more with his talents.
APC: If you were Matt LaFleur, how would you attack the Bears’ defense?
JB: I think the answer might be make sure to remind Aaron Rodgers that he’s playing the Bears and just sit back and enjoy the show. Let’s be completely honest with each other here. If the Packers can get to 20 points, take care of the ball so that the Bears defense doesn’t score, and they kick the ball out the back of the end zone away from Cordarrelle Patterson, they’re going to win this one without issue.
Fuller and Johnson form probably the best CB duo that GB will play this year but Buster Skrine can be bested from the slot. While the Bears have been much better in recent weeks, they have given up a lot of chunk plays in the running game. Stick to a balanced attack, be patient, take the points when they’re there.
APC: The big names are always foremost in our minds, but who are some under-the-radar players the Packers should be watching out for?
JB: I’ve already mentioned most of the team including Jaylon Johnson but since this is the first Packers fans will see him up close, it’s worth reiterating how good he’s looked overall as a rookie and how excited Bears fans are for his development. He’s among the league leaders in pass breakups and passer rating against. Having said that, I’m sure Rodgers will find a way to roast him, but he’s got a short memory and has been mighty impressive this year. If the Bears can keep that secondary together and maybe add an agent of chaos type at the safety opposite Eddie Jackson, they could really lead this team into the future.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday?
JB: You know when you’ve been watching a movie franchise or a TV show but it’s lasted a little too long? You may have liked one or two of the movies overall and there are moments or characters that you care about each time a new one releases, but overall, you’re just kind of sick of the series. Maybe the series will be better if they reboot it with a new lead actor but right now, you know who the hero of the story is and you’ve seen the same, tired script play out time and time again. At some point, you just have to ask yourself – what else is on Netflix?