By signing a damaged tackle (Jay Ratliff) who is still some weeks away from being a factor in a struggling defense, the Bears arguably threw a strong spotlight on an area that has been unable to right itself without help. In the meantime, Ratliff projects to be an upgrade at some point but the Bears have immediate problems to worry about.
And not all of them are named “Aaron Rodgers.”
The only two times the Bears have beaten Rodgers were Monday night games in which they failed to sack the Green Bay quarterback. So while pressure and sacks are obviously important, the bigger issue may be even forcing Rodgers into passing situations.
The Bears were a respectable eighth-ranked defense against the run, giving up 102 yards per game. To this point of 2013, they are 25th at stopping the run, giving up 117 per game. But that is less the story than the fact that they have given up 159 (Detroit), 123 (Giants) and 209 (Washington) over the last four games, with New Orleans (64) the only “good” game, and the Bears lost that one.
Over the past four games the Bears are allowing nearly 140 yards per game and five yards per carry. And for all of the havoc Rodgers represents, it is the running of rookie Eddie Lacy and James Starks, averaging 4.5 yards per carry combined, that is of real concern to the Bears.
“They’re above the league average in yards per carry,” said defensive coordinator Mel Tucker. “It’s really about everyone doing their job in run fits. Playing with great power and great technique up front. And rallying to the ball and not leaving it up to one guy.”
What to watch for: Julius Peppers vs. Green Bay left tackle David Bakhtiari. Peppers has been largely a non-factor throughout most of 2013 and is beyond overdue for a dominant game, which he has had in his career vs. Green Bay (11 games, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles). The rookie Bakhtiari is among the lowest-rated tackles in the NFL, based on evaluations by ProFootballFocus.com, having drawn six penalties and allowed four sacks in seven games.
Peppers is the single most likely player to disrupt the Green Bay offense.