The simple formula to defeating the Green Bay Packers


Which Green Bay Packers defense will show up Sunday? Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports photograph

The formula to defeat the Green Bay Packers is simple – establish the run and keep Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ offense off the field.

I said this prior to the contest in New Orleans when most were concerned about Drew Brees and I’ll say it again this week verses the Bears.

The Packers need to stop the run.

Contrary to the 2013 Green Bay Packers, this year’s defense survives on taking the ball away from quarterbacks with errant throws.

It’s an opportunistic defense that brings pressure from the edges which aids in delivering interceptions to linebackers and defensive backs alike. After eight games the Packers’ defense has collected 10 interceptions and 18 sacks. Both totals place them in the middle of the pack across the NFL landscape.

Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports photograph

With everyone’s favorite punching bag, i.e. Jay Cutler, coming to town and more than willing to throw a few passes up for grabs, on paper it would appear the Packers are in prime position to pounce on the Bears.

But with Cutler comes Matt Forte.

After eight games Forte has rushed for 562 yards to go with a 4.3-yard per-carry average. In week four Forte ran for 122 yards and a 5.3 yards per-carry average against the Packers.

One has to believe the Bears game plan this week is to hand the ball to Forte and hand the ball to Forte some more.

Of course if the formula to defeating the Packers is to run the ball, the antidote is for the Packers to build a lead and control the clock to force the opposition to pass the ball.

In this scenario, Dom Capers looks like a genius and the defense shines as they gather sacks and interceptions.

But this only works if the Packers’ defense can stop the run.

And up to this point they have not been able to do this.

Ranking dead last in the league, the Packers are giving up 153.5 yards per-game and nearly five yards per-carry.

Oct 19, 2014; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers talks with the defense during warmups prior to the game against the Carolina Panthers at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph

Why the Packers have difficulty stopping the run is not a one part answer, nor is it a quick fix.

With that said, sound fundamental tackling and the will to do so can go a long way toward making things better. Poor tackling has been a common theme in recent years.

Prior to the New Orleans game it appeared the tackling woes may be visible in the rear view mirror. After bumbling around in the Bayou it’s clear the tackling issues are more like May Flies on the windshield.

The other parts of the equation are a lack of experience, talent and girth on the defensive line.

These are macro-level fixes that at some point Ted Thompson will either be lucky or good when it comes to addressing this part of the team.

For all things Thompson has done right, drafting defensive lineman has not been his specialty.

No matter if the opponent is the Bears or the Buccaneers the Packers will only be as successful as their run defense and with that their willingness to tackle.

Having five of their next eight games at the friendly confines of Lambeau Field and the three road games against marginal opponents the Packers are in prime position to succeed in the second half of the season.

If they can figure out how to stop or in the very least slow down the run the Packers may be a prime contender in a topsy turvy 2014 NFL season.