Boomer at BearGogglesOn.com was nice enough to exchange a few Q & A’s with me this week.
MB – Lovie Smith will obviously start everyone for Sunday’s game, with a secured number 2 seed, how much do you think the starters will play regardless of the score?
BGO – When he came to Chicago, Lovie’s goals were 1. Beat Green Bay, 2. Win the division and 3. Win the Super Bowl If he rests his starters, it would be going against his #1 goal. I expect to see Cutler, Peppers, Urlacher and Briggs out there for at least a quarter, maybe a half.
MB – Jay Cutler has been sacked 46 times this year, yet he continues to be successful game after game. That should speak volumes about a quarterback’s ability, yet it seems he gets little respect in the NFL. Do you think he’ll reach “elite QB” status during his tenure at Chicago?
BGO – Cutler took a bulk of those sacks in the first seven weeks, before the bye. The offensive philosophy changed a bit after the bye week and the O-line has been steadily improving. I think those two factors have helped put Jay in a position to succeed. He’s shown that he can be dangerous when given time to survey the field and throw, like last week against the Jets. With another year in Mike Martz’s system and even more improvement from the offensive line, the sky’s the limit for Jay. He has all the talent in the world and we’ve all seen what Mike Martz was able to do with Kurt Warner.
MB – I have to admit, when the Bears got Julius Peppers this year, I was upset, he’s a monster of a player and certainly in the race for DPOY with 39 solo tackles, 3 forced fumbles, etc. How big of an impact has he made to help your team get where they are today? Besides the obvious double-team, what can the Packers do to contain him?
BGO – Peppers has been a monster for the Bears. He, along with the return of a healthy Brian Urlacher, has transformed this defense. It’s amazing what a difference he has made in generating pressure. The best way to negate Peppers is to call a lot of short passes. The Jets were able to marginalize Peppers by using 3-step drops. I’ve also seen teams have some success running screen to Peppers’ side too, but be careful; he’s got a couple of picks already this season.
MB – What do you think the Packers need to do to come out with a win on Sunday?
BGO – The most important thing for the Packers to do is take care of the football. The Bears will give up chunks of yardage, but they rely on taking the ball away. If the Packers take care of the football, they can put up some points. On the other side of the ball, the name of the game is pressure. Cutler has been better lately, but if the Pack can dial up some pressure, they can bring “Bad Jay” back.
MB – Give me your prediction for the game.
BGO – I think the Bears will know by kickoff that they have nothing to play for because there’s no way the Panthers beat the Falcons in the Georgia Dome. Knowing that, Lovie Smith will treat this like the second preseason game and pull his key players by halftime, regardless of the score. If the Packers can’t beat the Bears’ reserves, they have no business in the postseason anyway. It pains me to say this, but Packers 34, Bears 24.