Chicago Bears vs Green Bay Packers: 5 Things To Watch For

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Dec 29, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) is tackled by Chicago Bears nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (96) during the second half at Soldier Field. Green Bay won 33-28. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Will Depth Issues Plague the Defensive Line?

The short answer is yes.

For the life of me, I can’t understand what the Bears are doing with their defensive line. With Ratliff suspended, they’re carrying only five defensive lineman for the game. Only one of those – rookie Eddie Goldman – is a nose tackle, although Willie Sutton could probably play the part in a pinch. That leaves Ego Ferguson and Jarvis Jenkins as the likely starters at defensive end, with Cornelius Washington and Sutton as the reserve defensive ends.

Jan 1, 2015; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back Royce Freeman (21) makes a touchdown against Florida State Seminoles defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (90) in the 2015 Rose Bowl college football game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The depth at defensive end is fine in terms of numbers, if not talent. But with Ratliff out, that leaves only one viable option at nose tackle in Goldman. Coaches and players have praised Goldman during the preseason, and he’s looked solid in games. But to have only one nose tackle – and an unproven rookie at that – ready for game day against a team that has a pair of good backs and a great passing game is madness.

The team had another option at nose tackle – undrafted rookie Terry Williams – and another possibility in Brandon Dunn, but both players ended up on the practice squad. The smart move would have been to keep Williams, who played well at times in the preseason, to spell Goldman during the game. Goldman has looked good, but has never played in an NFL game before, and he’s also coming back from a concussion. The team has no idea how he’ll play or hold up against top-flight competition for a whole game.

Aug 22, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is sacked by Chicago Bears linebacker Pernell McPhee (92) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

If Goldman struggles, the only real option they have now is Sutton, thereby weakening the depth at defensive end.

The only solution I can come up with is playing McPhee more at defensive end, which is an option, or going with more four-man fronts, which is also an option. Four man fronts would likely mean McPhee at one of the end positions and Jared Allen possibly at another, thereby allowing the coaching staff to rotate other linemen at defensive tackle.

Regardless, look for the Bears to get gashed on the running game, especially in the second half, as the thin defensive line gets tired.

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