Kyle Long has only been in the NFL for seven games, but he came in with a working knowledge of physics that will serve him well in Lambeau Field on Monday night.
“If you’re going to lift a refrigerator, you’re not just going to walk up to it and push against it,” Long said. “You’ve got to bend down, put your butt down, roll under things and use leverage. Those are things we’ve got to emphasize on Monday night.”
The reason, or rather “reasons,” are very clear: The Packers run a 3-4 defense with the three down-linemen weighing in the range of what the Bears’ front-four does.
The Bears front four (Shea McClellin, Stephen Paea, Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton) total 1,117 pounds. The Packers get their 1,002 pounds from three — Johnny Jolly (325), Ryan Pickett (340) and B. J. Raji (337).
But here’s the real problem:
“You’d be surprised at how well these guys can move,” Long said. “They’re very strong guys, with the ability to two-gap, but they’re not traditional two-gappers in that they have the ability to make plays.”
The lasting image seared into Bears memories over recent seasons has been Clay Matthews blowing past J’Marcus Webb and sacking Jay Cutler. The good news is that Webb is gone (to Minnesota) and for this week, so is Matthews, inactive the past three games because of a broken right thumb suffered in the Oct. 6 game at Detroit.
But even without Matthews, and with outside linebacker Nick Perry out the past two games with a foot injury, and with inside linebacker Brad Jones down with a hamstring injury the past three games, Green Bay still ranks fifth in the NFL with 3.29 sacks per game.
The reason is because the fall off to backups is negligible. Jamari Lattimore, starting for Jones, recorded a sack in both the Minnesota and Cleveland games the past two weeks. Reserve defensive end Mike Daniels had two sacks against the Vikings and one against the Browns.
“Anytime you combine good personnel with a good scheme, that’s what makes them successful,” said offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. “When you’re talking about their scheme, their scheme is a gap-control. They’re sound in what they do, and then you couple that with good players and you’re going to have success.”
What to watch for: The time-honored bromide of “Run at speed, run away from power” is difficult when a defense like Green Bay’s has power everywhere. The tipping point will be whether the Bears can keep Jolly, Pickett, Raji and the rush linebackers at bay enough with the help of Josh McCown’s quick-release passing.