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Defense against Aaron Rodgers is key for the Chicago Bears

Chicago will try to stop Green Bay's quarterback with a four-man rush, leaving seven players to drop into pass coverage.

January 19, 2011|By Sam Farmer
  • Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings, right, tries to sprint away from Chicago defensive end Julius Peppers during the Packers' 10-3 victory on Jan. 2.
Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings, right, tries to sprint away from… (Jeff Hanisch / U.S. Presswire )

What the Chicago Bears need to do to defeat the Green Bay Packers in Sunday's NFC championship game (noon PST; Channel 11):

Do more with less

As usual, defense is the star of Chicago's show. The Bears will need to be at their best in that department, and that means rushing four players and dropping seven into coverage. They need to pressure Aaron Rodgers and get him out of rhythm. If Rodgers is feeling the heat on his five-step drops, the Bears are doing their job.

Be like Mike

The Bears need to rush Rodgers the way they contained Philadelphia's Michael Vick. That means guarding against over-running him. For the most part, when they're in their rushing lanes they don't want to run past him, unless it's a planned strategy to, say, loop speedy defensive end Julius Peppers around the back side. Rodgers is elusive and does a great job of buying more time by stepping up into the pocket.

"Peppers is the key to their rush," NFL Network analyst Matt Millen said. "But if you just focus on Peppers, you miss the rest of it. The underrated guys that are playing well for them right now — [defensive tackles] Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams — are getting a big push inside."

Know thyself

The historically pass-happy Mike Martz is Chicago's offensive coordinator, but he isn't running a variation of the "Greatest Show on Turf," the system he used with the St. Louis Rams, nor is he trying to. The Bears have become very balanced, relying not just on the arm of Jay Cutler but also mixing in a healthy portion of runs. That's less risky and keeps a defense honest. It also gives Green Bay cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams fewer chances to make big plays.

Play Where's Waldo

The Bears can't afford to lose track of where Packers linebacker Clay Matthews is on the field. He's incredibly disruptive and moves around quite a bit. Minimizing his impact will be a top priority, although the Bears can't be too focused on that and let another defensive player beat them.

Make Forte their forte

Against the aggressive Dom Capers blitzes, Cutler needs to take short drops and get the ball out quickly to running back Matt Forte. The Packers had eight sacks in two postseason wins and 47 during the regular season. Try to use their aggressiveness to their detriment.

Next: New York Jets

sam.farmer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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