Not unexpectedly, with two presumed rookie starting linebackers, veteran James Anderson will move into the role of directing the Bears defense against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.
“James has done it this week so far,” defensive coordinator Mel Tucker said Thursday. “He’s done it before. Jon’s also going to have a role in helping us get lined up. So I think we won’t have any issues.”
In the process Anderson becomes the fifth different voice in the huddle relaying the defensive signals within the span of 13 games. The job was Brian Urlacher’s through Game 12 last year, then Nick Roach’s after Urlacher was injured in the Seattle game.
Lance Briggs took over the job at the outset of this season. When he suffered a fractured shoulder in the Washington game, the helmet with the communicator went to rookie Jon Bostic.
And now Anderson takes over. But he is a linebacker, not a babysitter, and Bostic and fellow rookie Khaseem Greene, the presumed starter with Briggs out, are not being given Anderson as a crutch.
“Absolutely not,” Anderson said. “You coach them up off the field, you try to give them tips when they’re in the meetings and they go through practice. But when they’re on the field, as far as getting them lined up, I tell them basically what the alignment is and then they have to go play. Those guys have been doing a great job of learning their jobs, and now we have to be able to trust that they can do their jobs.”
The Green Bay game plan is expected to put pressure on the rookies in particular to make difficult decisions fast, but that’s what Rodgers does anyway. And he did not expect a big advantage from a new signal caller in the Bears’ defensive huddle.
“I’m sure anybody who’s making those calls, regardless of who they put the helmet on, will be ready to go,” Rodgers said. “Those guys have been in that defense for a while so the faces may change, but schematically it’s not going to be a lot of huge changes. It always comes down to execution in these matchups.”