Chicago Bears: How Bears Defense Can Shut Down Each NFC North Opponent in 2012
There are some things in life that you just can't help, and for the Chicago Bears defense, that thing is geographical location.
What I mean is that being placed in a division with the potent offenses of the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions—coupled with the Bears' emerging offense—gives the NFC North three of the elite offensive juggernauts in the NFL.
In a general sense, the most important thing for the Bears defense right now is to nurse All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher back to health, because as any Chicagoan will tell you, he's the heart, soul and undisputed leader of the Chicago Bears defense.
Unfortunately, I can't just wish Urlacher back to health.
What I can do, however, is take a look at how the 2012 Bears defense will match up against each offense in the NFC North and pick out one point regarding how the unit can best stop each team.
I'll start with the Minnesota Vikings.
There wouldn't be much of an argument from most NFL experts that when it comes to NFC North offenses, Minnesota's is by far the easiest to prepare for and to ultimately stop.
Because aside from Percy Harvin and a healthy Adrian Peterson, they don't have much else in the way of playmakers.
So, my best take on how to stop the Vikings offense is to jam eight men in the box and to stop the run game, while at the same time, not falling vulnerable to the inevitable gadget play that looms when Percy Harvin is in the backfield.
Fortunately, the Bears employ a linebacking core and defensive ends to counter most trick plays that send Harvin off-end and towards the sidelines.
As a side note, current Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is young. I didn't need to remind you of that, but one thing that young quarterbacks always struggle with is pressure up the middle.
So despite the clear lack of weapons on the outside at Ponders' disposal, it wouldn't hurt anyone (except maybe Ponder) if the defensive line started breathing heavily down the second-year quarterback's neck.
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Packers offense is Aaron Rodgers. I mean, obviously. The guy is a freak.
How to stop him is another animal within itself, because even if you limit him through the air with stout cornerback play, he still has the athletic ability to scramble and move the sticks with his feet.
Not to mention, the Packers as a unit employ one of the deepest and most talented receiving cores in the NFL.
Let's put it this way, you can't stop the Green Bay Packers offense. You can only slow it down as best you can. And for the Chicago Bears, specifically, the best way to accomplish this is to put as much pressure on Aaron Rodgers as humanly possible.
Julius Peppers, Israel Idonije and company will need to improve upon their middle-of-the-league 33.0 sack total from a year ago. They will need to beat the Packers' offensive tackles and not let Rodgers set himself in the pocket, because if he does, it could be deathly.
If the Packers are the division's most potent total offense, then the Detroit Lions' pairing of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson is the division's most lethal duo.
Heck, they might be the most dangerous team in the entire NFL.
A year ago, the two hooked up for 12 catches, 211 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Bears, including a 73-yard touchdown bomb in an early season Monday Night Football affair.
That leads me to how the Bears can beat the Lions offense.
Limit the big play to Calvin Johnson, because, like Aaron Rodgers, Megatron is virtually impossible to shut down completely. So the best you can do is to not let him beat you over the top and let the game get away from you quickly.
With the absence of both Jahvid Best and Mikel Leshoure from the Lions' backfield, they don't possess the world's most devastating running attack, giving the Bears defense ample amount of bodies to send extra help toward Johnson's side of the field.
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