The Chicago Bears catch an unfortunate break ahead of Week 17 Packers’ game
The Chicago Bears are about to face off against their biggest divisional rival on Sunday. The game is the most important game of Mitch Trubisky’s, and quite frankly Matt Nagy’s, career. Yes, this game is even more important than the infamous double-doink loss to the Eagles in 2018. This is because Trubisky’s career has tapered off drastically since that game, but a win (or just a strong showing) could be key to lengthening Trubisky’s career well beyond 2020.
If the Chicago Bears win on Sunday, they will have found a way to finally beat the Packers. A 1-4 record during Nagy’s tenure is not good enough. Everyone should recall Lovie Smith’s goals when he came to be the Bears’ head coach back in 2004. He made sure to point out how the Bears must find ways to beat the Packers year-in-and-year-out should they want to be competitive. He split the matchup in his very first season and finished with an 8-10 record versus Green Bay.
It should be pointed out that two of those losses came in Week 17 when the Chicago Bears rested players since the team had already locked up a playoff spot. Another important factor to point out is how early on in his coaching career with the Bears, Lovie Smith was much more successful versus the Packers and it was not until the last couple of years of his career that things shifted.
Needless to say, Matt Nagy’s Chicago Bears have not had as good of a start versus the Packers. However, that could all change should the team find a way to beat the Packers on Sunday and earn their way into the playoffs. Now, the team could still sneak in with a Rams win over the Cardinals, but that’s probably not likely to happen with key players Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp both ruled out. The Bears must take care of their own business.
The Chicago Bears will have an opportunity to hit Aaron Rodgers often
As much as you hate to see a player go down with an injury, they are a part of every NFL season. As of now, the Chicago Bears are likely to be without rookie sensation Jaylon Johnson. He has missed the last two games with a shoulder injury and has yet to practice. He remains day-to-day.
The Packers have now suffered a major blow too. Yesterday, it was reported that the Packers have lost left tackle David Bakhtiari to a season-ending ACL injury. This is not good for the hottest team in the NFC right now.
Although I would prefer the Chicago Bears to beat the Packers at full strength, it should not stop Matt Nagy and Chuck Pagano from taking advantage of the unfortunate situation. I guarantee Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur will be testing fifth-round rookie cornerback Kindle Vildor should he have to start for Jaylon Johnson opposite Kyle Fuller. Pagano must get creative with his use of his corners on Sunday.
More importantly, Pagano needs to help scheme ways for his front-seven to get to Rodgers. With Bakhtiari out, Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols and Robert Quinn must hit Rodgers and they must hit him often. This will not be an easy task even with Bakhtiari out, but his absence is where the Bears defense must start their attacks.
Rodgers has only been sacked 19 times thus far this season — the second-best mark in the league. A three to five sack game for the Chicago Bears could be what differentiates a win vs a loss for this Bears team. Bakhtiari has only allowed one of those 17 sacks. Bakhtiari is a four-time Pro Bowl left tackle. Pro Football Focus has him graded at 91.8 (elite) this season. He is the voice and heart of the Packers’ offensive line. The Packers will clearly miss him on Sunday
Although this break is unfortunate, the Chicago Bears must take advantage. At times in this game, Pagano must overload that side of the ball. This might be more difficult without Jaylon Johnson as it exposes the corners more, but this defense cannot afford to be non-aggressive. The team must find ways to get to Rodgers early and often or he will pick apart the bend but don’t break mentality we have seen most of the season. This is how the Packers put up 41 points on the Bears in their Week 12 showdown.