Packers vs. Bears: What are they saying in Chicago?

Clay Matthews will have his eyes on Jay Cutler tonight. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

I had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Burzawa of Beargoggleson.com, our sister Fansided.com fan site that focuses, of course, on the Chicago Bears.

He spent some time answering questions we threw his way about tonight’s Bears vs. Packers game.

He has an interesting take on the game.

Here are his answers …

Q.  The Bears started very slowly last week against the Colts with a three and out and then a pick-six. Of course, after that they roared to a big win. If Cutler comes out like that against the Packers, do you think it could be over early or do the Bears have enough within them to mount a comeback at Lambeau Field?
In years past, Cutler might spiral out of control and try to force things, but I feel like this season he’s better equipped to deal some early missteps.  Of course the Bears can’t let the Packers build up a big lead to let Dom Caper’s defense play downhill and come after Cutler.  If the Bears can keep it to within one score so they can run a balanced offense, they have the weapons to come back.
Q. Jay Cutler hasn’t had his best games against Green Bay in the past. Do you think it’s because of the Packers’ defense or does he seem to shrink a bit under the pressure of big division games?
I think a lot of Cutler’s problems have been related to the talent around him.  Without wide receivers that could beat press coverage and one on one matchups, Cutler forced some bad throws.  With some new weapons, I expect you’ll see a new Jay Cutler on Thursday night.
3. The Bears have always won games with their defense, but now with the likes of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery in the lineup, are the Bears a better rounded team that can beat you in more ways than just defense and special teams?
The Bears are a team in transition, changing from a defensive-minded team to an offensively focused team.  You can tell by the Bears’ offseason acquisitions that they’re trying to “keep up with the Jones’s” and get some more firepower to be competitive in today’s NFL.  The defense may be getting long in the tooth, but they make up for their physical losses with experience and cunning.  Special teams are always staple on the Bears and will continue to make game changing plays.
Q. In speaking about the defense again – it seems that this is an aging unit. With the injuries to Urlacher and Peanut Tillman, is this a defense that may have lost a step and is susceptible to teams with speed – such as the Packers and Lions?
There’s no “seems” about it – the Bears are an aging defense; their best players are north of 30.  The Urlacher injury makes the Bears a little vulnerable in the middle of the field while he’s working himself back into game shape.  Peanut is a tough physical corner, but if Greg Jennings sits, those might end up evening out.
Q. We all know the Bears will focus on stopping the Packers run game, which hasn’t been difficult for many teams over the past few years. However, do the Bears have the personnel to line up with the Packers’ receiving corps – even with the loss of Greg Jennings?
Wait, the Packers have a running game?  I thought they just handed the ball off a couple times per game when Aaron Rodgers’ arm got tired.  The Bears still have some strong play in the secondary without Peanut.  In case you missed it, Tim Jennings had two interceptions and another tipped ball that led to another interception.  On the other side, Kelvin Hayden has plenty of experience and fared well filling in for Tillman last week.  DJ Moore plays the nickel and is a bit of a ball hawk, so keep an eye out for him.  The young safeties Major Wright and Chris Conte could be challenged keeping up with the Packers’ aerial assault.
Q. Are there any young players, other than Jeffery, who have been standing out for the Bears? If so, who are they?
On offense, keep an eye out for H-back Evan Rodriguez.  He did a nice job opening some holes in the running game.  On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears invested a first round pick in defensive end Shea McClellin.  So far, he’s rotating in on pass rushing situations and has shown great speed creating pressure.  Aaron Rodgers had better look out for him.
Q. Your predictions for the game? And, of course, give us your final score.
The Packers have gotten the best of the Bears over the last few years, but this isn’t the same old Bears team.  Jay Cutler has the weapons to keep up with Rodgers and the Packers for a change.  The Bears use some creative scheming to protect Cutler and the defense has just enough to slow down the slumping Packers, who move to 0-2 on the season.  Bears 37, Packers 34

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