Bears changed tactics vs. Aaron Rodgers: 'We’re not playing Superman'


Bears changed tactics vs. Aaron Rodgers: 'We’re not playing Superman'

In the days before Thursday’s throwdown against the Green Bay Packers, Bears defensive linemen and linebackers got together for a talk. That talk was about Aaron Rodgers and what amounted to concluding that the reigning NFL MVP was just another guy.

In Week 1 the Bears had managed not only zero sacks, but also not even a hit on Rodgers, who’d completed 18 of 23 unhurried passes for three touchdowns and a rating of 140.5.

“We met and told each other, ‘Don’t try doing anything you haven’t been doing these past couple weeks, just go out there and play,'" defensive end Jarvis Jenkins said.

“We’re not playing Superman ... We’ve got to go out and rush him like he’s just another quarterback and not worry about the outside stuff, because if you think too much on that, he can hurt you.”

[MORE BEARS: Win over Rodgers, Packers could be turning point for Bears]

Instead, the Bears set out to bring the hurt. If that involved some risk and defying convention, so be it.

With the secondary locking down on an under-performing Green Bay receiver group, Rodgers was badgered into 22-for-43 passing and his second-poorest passer rating (62.4) since the end of the 2010 season.

The point was to make Rodgers uncomfortable. 

“It was about bringing the pressure and getting him off that spot,” said defensive end Willie Young, credited with a sack among his three hits of Rodgers, plus a tackle for loss.

[MORE BEARS: Bears hold on to beat Packers on Thanksgiving night]

Ironically, some of what might have appeared at the time to be poor fundamentals against Rodgers was a calculated strategy with a measured degree of risk. Instead of a “safe” rush intent on keeping Rodgers from escaping the pocket, the Bears defensive line sold out and went hard after the Packers quarterback.

“We were asked to just rush him,” Jenkins said.

The risk lay in losing containment to the outside and leaving gaps inside, and Rodgers did escape four times for 33 yards. But 18 of those yards came on one scramble.

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Meanwhile, however, the Bears registered a total of six hits on Rodgers, in addition to the rush-and-cover combination forcing him to run those four times. Meaning: of the Packers’ 49 pass plays, 10 went off with some sort of Rodgers discomfort, whether sack, hit or forced run.

“In the first game we were a little bit cautious, worried about him not getting out of the pocket,” Jenkins said. “We didn’t worry about that [Thursday]; we just cut it loose, got after him and made him very uncomfortable and it worked.”

Power Rankings Roundup: Back down the Bears go

Power Rankings Roundup: Back down the Bears go

Well, it was fun while it lasted. 

After the Bears' fiasco in Miami, the Power(s)(Rankings) that be have cooled on Trubisky and Co. Squandering several chances to put away a probably-inferior team will do that. 

Here's what they're saying: #11, down 3 -- 
Football is often hard to explain. The Bears came into their Week 6 matchup in Miami flying high and having generated 18 sacks in their four prior games, putting them on pace to tie their own NFL record, set in 1984 (the year before they won the Super Bowl). Then Chicago was stonewalled by a mediocre Dolphins offensive line.

ESPN: #12, down 5 -- 
Chicago ranks in the top five in points allowed per game, opposing QBR, sacks and interceptions. Mitchell Trubisky has seen an uptick in production as well: He has thrown nine TD passes in his past two games, matching the total he threw in his first 15 career games.

Washington Post: #12, down 7 -- 
The Bears had every chance to establish themselves as the NFC’s third-best team and the primary challenger to the Rams and Saints. But they somehow found a way to lose Sunday at Miami thanks to RB Jordan Howard’s fumble at the 1-yard line, QB Mitchell Trubisky’s brutal interception in the end zone and the down-the-stretch breakdowns on their supposedly powerful defense.

USA Today: #12, down 4 -- 
Speaking of Osweiler, we can only assume Khalil Mack was taking pity on the man he once sacked five times in a single afternoon.

CBS Sports: #12, down 3 -- 
That was a bad look in losing on the road to Miami. The command of the division is gone.

Chicago Tribune: #13, down 6 -- 
Tough bounce-back spot with the Patriots coming to Soldier Field, but a long list of players is eager to atone after allowing a “W” to slip away against the Dolphins.

Sporting News: #15, down 7 -- 
Mitchell Trubisky came out firing after the bye, but not trusting Jordan Howard and the power running game enough in a positive game flow is inexplicable. Matt Nagy is going through growing pains, too.

Bleacher Report: #7 (!), N/A -- 
Despite a crushing 28-31 loss in overtime against a Dolphins team that fumbled in the end zone—giving Chicago another opportunity to win that they couldn't capitalize on—the Bears have proved to be a tough team so far this season.

Khalil Mack to undergo additional tests on right ankle this week

Khalil Mack to undergo additional tests on right ankle this week

My kingdom for a healthy right ankle. 

After Khalil Mack hurt his ankle during the Bears' 31-28 loss to Miami last Sunday, the team will reportedly send Mack for further testing: 

While we still don't know exactly what this entails, it's obviously not great news. Mack's been the leader of a defense that ranks as one of -- if not the -- NFL's best. He leads the team in sacks (5) -- for which he's also in the top-10 of all defensive players in the NFL-- and forced fumbles (4). 

And who just so happens to be coming to Soldier Field next Sunday? Tom Brady! Rob Gronkowski! A Patriots team that has succeeded for YEARS on exploiting bad linebacker matchups! Terrific.