Larry McCarren: Secrets to Success
To avoid going 0-2, the Packers need to improve on defense and the running game to beat the Bears.Photo: Video by nbc26.com
1. Take advantage of Interception opportunities. If there's one thing to bet the ranch on, it's that Jay Cutler will throw to Brandon Marshall, whether he's open or not. There will be chances for INT's and Tramon Williams et al can't get out-muscled for the ball.
2. Control Julius Peppers and Lance Briggs. They are the special players in the Bears front 7 and have to be blocked. Peppers isn't a one dimensional player who only rushes the passer either. His size, strength and quickness make him formidable against the run as well. What about Brian Urlacher? He's never been good at taking on blocks and playing just a month after knee surgery he isn't moving around all that well. (At least he didn't in game 1 vs. the Colts)
3. If need be, have some Patience on offense. The 49'ers didn't re-invent the wheel keeping safeties deep. They didn't want give up "the" big play defensively. If the Bears employ the same tactic (they normally don't play their Cover "2" all the time), so be it. Play mistake-free football, take what's there and get to the end zone a little bit at a time. Touchdowns count 6 points, be it after one play or ten. Patience is a virtue.
4. When running the ball, get respectable results. As currently constituted, the Packers will never be a "running" team but when they do put it on the ground, 2 yards per attempt ain't going to cut it. That invites opponents to sit back in a two safety shell and keep everything in front of them. The Bears defensive line does play a penetrating game but they're also moving into a gap at the snap of the ball. I've always thought the Packers O-Line is better against movement than defensive lines that just squat and make you move them.
5. Contain the Bears running game. 186 yards and 5.8 a carry vs. San Fran. If you take away quarterback scrambles, it's 156 yards and 6.0. Obviously, plenty of room for improvement. Chicago likes to block down on the edge and pull lineman around it. Whoever gets the down block has to fight pressure with pressure and not get caved to the inside. Ideally, the defender needs to stuff that blocker back into the path of the pulling linemen. He may not make the tackle, but by doing so others will.
6. Limit mental errors. Receivers, wide open in the end zone, (as in Moss last Sunday), can't have it.
7. Win on special teams. Limiting Devin Hester's production almost goes without saying but the Bears are good on special teams overall, traditionally ranking at or near the top league-wide. Of the offense, defense and special teams, only the Packers special teams played winning football in game 1. Need more of the same in game 2.
We'll be back, hopefully with good news, on Friday.