Well football fans, the Packers came out of their bye week and played against division rivals the Detroit Lions last week. And that’s all I really have to say about that. The team came out and fell flat on their face, not a terrific look for a team coming off of two weeks of preparation against an opponent which had lost its previous three games. But fear not! IF the Packers can win three or so of the next 6 games they will be sitting at 7-7 at the time when Rodgers becomes eligible to come off of IR. IF that is the case the Packers could potentially be in the hunt for a play off spot. IF they are and Rodgers’ collarbone is healed up enough he could return and potentially make a run at the playoffs. So although the team didn’t look great last week, there is only one direction to go; up! It starts this week against the Chicago Bears! Let’s get to it!
3 BURNING QUESTIONS
Will we see growth from the offense?
The most important thing to see from the offense this week, and from Brett Hundley is growth and rhythm. During Hundley’s first start positive passing plays and rhythm were very difficult to come by but there were some flashes of competency. During last week against the Lions Hundley most definitely looked better and on some drives the offense was actually able to move the ball efficiently. The offense didn’t look good consistently but there was enough to build on. If McCarthy deiced to not abandon the run game again this week and he gives Hundley more opportunities to play to his strengths the offense could really take a big step forward. BUT if McCarthy continues to refuse to use running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery and he continues to handcuff Hundley the offense could continue moving in the wrong direction.
Where is the pass rush?
When Aaron Rodgers went down we all knew that it would take a major step up from every other position group in order to get by until there was a possibility for him to come back. Unfortunately that has not yet been the case. The defense is really the unit that needs to step up the most but thus far that has not been the case. The lack of pass rush especially has been very concerning. Last week against a very banged up line there was only one sack to be had for the Packers defense. In order for this defense to succeed there needs to be consistent pressure to keep the quarterback off balance. This week against a young, inexperienced quarterback getting to the quarterback could be the best way to create some big turnovers and give the offense a bit of help for once.
Will Davantae Adams have his revenge?
The last time that wide receiver Davantae Adams took the field against the Chicago Bears he took one of the scarier hits you’ll ever see on a football field and ended up being taken off the field on a stretcher. He was miraculously able to play the following week and has been one of the few consistently healthy Packers. Will he come into this week with a little bit of extra motivation and come out and have a huge game? The Bears have a very solid ninth ranked defense against the pass but Davantae is one of the more talented receivers in the game and if he gets involved early and gets hot he could go off for a massive game.
2 KEY MATCHUPS
The Packers front 7 vs the Bears offensive line
This game is one that will be won in the trenches. The Bears offensive gameplan is very simple: they are going to run the ball on first down, run the ball on second down and if you’ll let them they’ll run the ball on third down too. The Bears are trying to keep as much pressure off of their rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky by giving him a consistent run game and keeping pressure off of him. Most of his positive passes have come off of play actions and bootlegs which are based off of the offense’s ability to run the ball. If the Packers are able to win this battle up front, shut down the run game and force Trubisky to attempt to convert some long third downs they could really shut this offense down quickly.
Justin McCray vs Chicago’s pass rush
Last week was not only disappointing because of the play of the team but also because the Packers received some terrible news along the offensive line. Right offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga has been lost for the season with a torn ACL. Unfortunately this isn’t really a new problem to deal with for the Packers. Bryan Bulaga has been in and out of the lineup all season and because of this Justin McCray has gotten used to playing some right tackle in his stead. He may need to get even more comfortable there because there is a chance he has to play there for a decent amount of time. If he is the one who ends up getting the start there his job will be very important. He’ll need to keep a clean pocket for Hundley against one of the better defenses in the NFL. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio will certainly do his best to test the young offensive tackle who will certainly be in for a battle all afternoon.
ONE BOLD PREDICTION
I asked earlier if Davantae Adams would be able to get his revenge this week against the Bears, and I am now predicting that he will go off. Adams is one of the players on this team best suited to turn a short pass into a massive gain. His speed and quickness in the open field are unmatched on this Packers team and the Packers would be very wise to attempt to involve him in the game plan early and often. Getting him rolling early will help get Brett Hundley into a rhythm and open up the offense for everyone else on the team. I think that Tae ends up taking one short pass a long way for a big score and he finds another red zone target that he ends up hauling in for a score. His final stats will look something like 6 catches for 110 yards and two scores.