Packers focusing on Bears' Forte

Packers focusing on Bears' Forte
November 3, 2013, 4:15 pm
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By Jim Owczarski

Special to CSNChicago.com from OnMilwaukee.com.

GREEN BAY — There are few secrets between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers, even as first year Bears coach Marc Trestman brings a new-look and far more potent Bears offense to Lambeau Field on Monday night.

The Packers do have seven weeks worth of film to break down after all, and nearly three quarters of plays to dissect backup quarterback Josh McCown running that offense.

The key word there is “offense.” For the Packers defenders, it’s about the system Trestman has been running more so than the individuals running it.

After complimenting the skill sets of Jay Cutler and McCown, Packers inside linebacker A.J. Hawk admitted as much.

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“I don’t know if I’d sit there and talk about how different their offense is,” he said. “It’s not like you’re going from, I don’t know, a guy like Tim Tebow to Peyton Manning. It’s not like that, different styles like that. We don’t really prepare for specific guys that much. It’s more of what they do as a whole.

“We try to look at it as a whole, as a scheme, as all 11. We don’t really want to single out on one guy even though they have guys that can beat you everywhere. You can’t really get zeroed in on one guy because they’ll find plenty of guys to beat you if you do that.”

One of those individuals is Bears running back Matt Forte, who is on pace for the most rush attempts (265) and yards (1,218) since his rookie season and the most number of catches (80) and receiving yards (598) of his six-year career.

And once Cutler went out with a torn groin with 10 minutes, 9 seconds left of the second quarter of the Bears’ 45-41 loss at Washington two weeks ago, Forte touched the ball 13 times (11 rushes, 2 catches) and was targeted once more in the pass game.

Washington did a decent job bottling him up — perhaps anticipating a less effective downfield passing attack — but Forte did break a 50-yard touchdown run and a six-yard scoring rush. Aside from a 12-yard carry on his first attempt after Cutler’s exit, his other eight rushes netted just 19 yards.

“Matt Forte is an awesome player,” said Packers defensive end Mike Daniels, who leads the team with four sacks. “We go against awesome players every week. We just have to respond. When you play great players, they’re going to show up, we just have to make sure we show up too.”

“He is so versatile and so good,” Hawk added. “You can split him out and he’s a bonafide receiver as well. He runs really hard and has that breakaway speed, so I think they just find ways to get him the ball.”

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The Bears surely will, but Forte should expect some tough sledding when he does get his hands on it.

Green Bay is fourth in the NFL in rush yards allowed (83.6) and haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 2 when Washington’s Alfred Morris ran for 107. During their current four-game winning streak, the Packers have allowed less than 85 yards on the ground in each contest.

That has helped set up the pass rush by forcing more advantageous down and distance situations, helping make up for the loss of All-Pro linebacker and pass rush extraordinaire Clay Matthews to a thumb injury. The Packers have recorded 20 sacks since.

“Your run defense kind of sets the tone for everything,” Hawk said. “If they feel like they can’t keep coming back to the run and pound you, then yeah, you can start to come after them a little bit in the pass rush. You don’t have to bring blitzes, you can have a four man rush and those guys have been setting them up and playing so stout against the run they can kind of set their moves up. They’re so good about that.”