Week 12. Bear Week. The oldest and greatest rivalry in the NFL. The black and blue division renews this historic clash. With the Green Bay Packers looking to stay atop the NFC North, while the Chicago Bears are fighting for their playoff lives. Both teams need to get back in the win column after losing their last game. While this foe might not be the old Monsters of the Midway, it will be an epic battle Sunday night at Lambeau Field. Let’s take a closer look at the longtime enemy in Know the Foe: Chicago Bears Week 12.
Offense Stuck in Neutral
Head Coach Matt Nagy and his offensive scheme has been lackluster and struggling most of the season. The Bears are in the bottom three in scoring this season with 20 total touchdowns. Chicago has struggled with its identity. All of that that starts with who is under center. Mitch Trubisky in his fourth season just hasn’t become the player the Bears envisioned when they drafted him. Veteran Nick Foles was brought in this year to either take over or spark Trubisky. This plan has backfired and led to musical chairs at the position. Nagy has yet to name a starter for this week but it looks like Trubisky will be the guy.
The Bears rushing attack is last in the league in yards and touchdowns. Second-year back David Montgomery gets the bulk of the carries. The north-south runner has 472 yards (3.6 per carry) with one end zone visit. Montgomery offers a nice size at 5’10” and 220 lbs. but is not an explosive runner. With scatback weapon Tarik Cohen out, wide receiver/specialist Cordarrelle Patterson has seen some carries. Patterson is a dangerous special-teams threat but has struggled on offense. Young back Artavis Pierce showed upside in limited snaps and the Bears also added season vet Lamar Miller to the mix.
The biggest threat on offense for Chicago is wide receiver Allen Robinson. In spite of lackluster QB play and being the focal point of defensive coordinators each week, Robinson continues to produce. The big target has 63 grabs for 755 yards and three scores on the season. He is a matchup problem every week. Anthony Miller and rookie Darnell Mooney are the other wide receiver targets. Both are built like slot guys and combined have four touchdowns and a little over seven hundred yards. 34-year-old former Packer Jimmy Graham leads all Bears pass catchers with five touchdowns in 2020. Though he is a huge human being he doesn’t move like he did years ago and offers nothing blocking. Rookie tight end Cole Kmet has yet to get going but the Bears hope for a bright future from the Notre Dame stand out.
As for the woes on offense, the offensive line can carry some of that blame. That group has given up 25 sacks so far. Charles Leno and Cody Whitehair have been mainstays on the left side. Whitehair was reserve/covid but should be back this week. Sam Mustipher, who recently has started at center, has been pretty good. He and right guard Germain Ifedi will have their hands full with a surging Kenny Clark. The Packers need to dominate in the trenches this game.
Defense Carries the Load
Year after year one thing is certain this Bears defense is tough and shows up for a fight. Alpha Khalil Mack sets the tone and identity of this unit. PFF grades him out Elite this year after a down 2019 campaign. The man is hell on wheels. Line him up anywhere and the offense tilts their attack. Robert Quinn has replaced Leonard Floyd opposite of Mack, but he only has one sack on the season. Inside linebacker Roquan Smith has been playing excellent of late also. The undersized but extremely athletic Smith has been flying all over the field. When kept clean he is a problem. Keeping him clean is a job of the bigs up front.
Eddie Goldman is out but Hakeem Hicks is still a force. Though Hicks might not get the recognition of the other big names he does the dirty work. Usually commanding a double team, he can still hold the point-of-attack freeing up guys like Smith to make tackles.
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On the back end of the defense, Eddie Jackson is the playmaker. The free safety should be a go after not testing positive for covid this week. Though his turnover numbers are down this year he is always a threat to make that game-changing play. His only knock is his not so good tackling. Next to him at strong safety is trusted veteran Tashaun Gipson.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller is their number one and he will probably follow Davante Adams around all day. Fuller is sticky in coverage but Adams should still eat on Sunday. Rookie Jaylon Johnson and slot corner Buster Skrine will be tasked with stopping the other Packer receivers. The 2nd round Johnson has played well for a rookie starter but Skrine has struggled. The Packers should find success with these matchups to get the big division win.
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