Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
Posted: 1:00 p.m.
By John Mullin
You have the feeling that Aaron Rodgers and Lovie Smith have undergone some sort of Vulcan mind-meld.
Rodgers, appearing by phone on The Dan Patrick Show Tuesday morning on Comcast SportsNet, didnt hesitate even briefly answering Patricks question: Youll beat the Bears if you guys?
If we dont turn it over, I think, Rodgers said, in the first of three references to turnovers in one answer. They have a defense built by Lovie to really make you go the distance, not allow the big plays.
Big plays indeed cost the Bears dearly in their 2010 loss to the Packers as Rodgers had completions of 20 yards or longer to three different receivers, including ones of 33 and 44 yards to Greg Jennings. Green Bays winning touchdown in Green Bay last season was a 50-yarder to Jennings. The Packers first score in 2009s win No. 2 started with a 62-yard TD run by Ryan Grant.
But Rogers and Smith are of one mind especially on turnovers. The Bears committed 4 turnovers (Jay Cutler interceptions) to zero by the Packers in the 2009 first game. In game two, 2-2.
The Bears were plus-1 when they won in Game Three this season, even in the loss at Lambeau.
Simple point: The Bears need to win the turnover edge to win the game.
Rodgers ran through various defensive players, likening cornerback Charles Tillman to defensive player of the year Charles Woodson.
Theyre opportunistic on defense, Rodgers said. Theyre very athletic across the board so the key to playing Chicago is not to turn the ball over. I think thats the biggest key.
Rodgers confirmed a cordial relationship with Cutler, probably to the chagrin of rivalry purists who never had to ponder texting and Twittering by Sid Luckman, Bart Starr or Jim McMahon with their opposite numbers.
Jay and I are buddies and we hit each other up here and there throughout the season. We probably wont text much this week but Ill look forward to playing him Sunday.
What did we learn?
The Bears and Packers will be conducting their normal levels of scrutinizing each other, both from games against each other and also against particular opponents. What can be gleaned from those is always interesting in itself.
One difficult game to critique was No. 16, which meant everything to the Packers playoff chances and virtually nothing to the Bears. The Bears played their starters throughout but no player prepares to the max and beyond for a game that they know full well doesnt matter.
How much the coaches did is another matter. While it would be simple to assume that the Bears went vanilla against Green Bay on both sides of the ball, the results dont square with that.
The defense allowed 17 points and 379 yards of offense to Rodgers and the Packers. Green Bay owned time of possession with nearly 36 minutes on the field.
In the second, meaningless meeting, with nothing to play for, the Bears allowed nearly 100 fewer yards (284), only 10 points and 2.6 yards per rush vs. 6.3 in the teams first game. Green Bays time of possession: 29:20.
And if the Bears were playing not to lose (bodies as well as on the scoreboard), then calling 45 pass plays and getting Cutler sacked six times was a strange way to do it particularly considering that the Bears had won the first game with a saner, safer 30 pass plays (3 sacks).
Maybe what the Bears learned then was what not to do against the scheming of Dom Capers.
And what to do: Matt Forte and Chester Taylor ran 14 times in the first game for 38 yards (2.7 per carry). They called 18 runs tailback runs in the second game and averaged 5.6 (102 yards).
If Cutler is called on to throw 45 times and is sacked six times in a one-score game this Sunday, Mike Martz should be fired. On the spot.
John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.