The Bears and Packers will meet tonight in a game that many are already calling a “must win” for Green Bay. Aaron Rodgers left spectators un-dazzled in his first game of the season, but look for him to rebound with a dominating performance against Chicago.
Last Sunday, Rodgers completed 30-of-44 passes for 303 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 93.3. It took him until Week 16 to finish with a rating that low a season ago. It also took him until Week 16 to lose a game.
To say Rodgers had a bad opening game is ridiculous. For all the league-wide passing milestones in 2011, only five quarterbacks not named Aaron Rodgers produced an average rating of over 93.3.
The Bears allowed 254 passing yards/game in 2011, which was fifth worst in the NFL. Their only redeeming quality was that they grabbed 20 interceptions (fifth best). However, Cam Newton, Josh Freeman, Carson Palmer, Tim Tebow, Joe Webb and Christian Ponder were responsible for half of them.
Eventually, Chicago will need to admit that the Cover 2 is far too simplistic for Aaron Rodgers. Not that there exists any defense that can successfully stop him, but the Cover 2 (and all its variations) seems like one of the worst options.
In his two games against the Bears last year, Rodgers completed 73 percent of his passes for 580 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception.
Anyone who watches extensive football or plays Madden knows that the disadvantage of the Cover 2 is that the middle of the field can get left open when multiple receivers go deep along the outside, thereby occupying the attention of the two safeties.
Chicago will often use a Tampa 2 and give Urlacher the pivotal middle zone, but even this doesn’t solve the issue—or at least it didn’t in the two meetings last season.
Jermichael Finley and James Jones, who work largely in the vulnerable Cover 2 area, combined for 18 receptions, 179 yards and six touchdowns.
Not only did Rodgers shred Chicago through the air in 2011, he also had little difficulty avoiding their pass rush. He was sacked only twice for a total of just five yards.
This has little to do with Green Bay’s offensive line. One of the most impressive parts of Rodgers’ game is his quick release and ability to make slight adjustments at the line. With so many talented receivers, he can rely on quick hitches and slants if he is under pressures or senses a blitz prior to the snap.
The one thing working in Chicago’s favor will be the likely absence of Greg Jennings. Unfortunately, Charles Tillman, who is questionable, may not be at his best—assuming he plays at all.
Also unfortunate for the Bears is the development of Randall Cobb. The second-year receiver looks like the heir apparent to Donald Driver in Green Bay. Cobb caught nine passes for 77 yards in Week 1.
For most teams, a number of things need to go right to get a win, and all of these components are of equal importance. Green Bay is no exception in that they need to execute a complete game plan, but that bit about equal importance does not apply.
When Rodgers plays his best, Green Bay wins. It is that simple.
Some might call their reliance on one player a flaw, but I don’t see anything wrong with saying, “If the best player in the NFL plays as such, we win.” It’s certainly a lot easier than asking fifteen players to play at their peak.
Rodgers will turn in his typical 300-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bears and postpone the Green Bay panic for at least another week.