Well, at least we got through one game unscathed this year. The season-ending injury to Nick Collins is a big blow to the defense. It won’t cause Dom Capers to change his scheme, but it will force him to do things a bit differently.
In steps Charlie Peprah, who did a fine job filling in for Morgan Burnett last season. But Peprah will not make us forget about Collins. He’s not as instinctive, can’t cover as much ground and doesn’t have Collins’ speed. Expect Burnett to be asked to do more–my gut tells me he is up to the challenge. I love how physically he plays–I think he has star potential. There’s also the chance Charles Woodson could play some safety down the road, if things aren’t looking good.
The Packers face the potential of taking on the Bears minus three defensive starters (four, if you count Frank Zombo). Collins and Neal are out and Tramon Williams’ status remains up in the air. Not the ideal situation heading into a key divisional game and rematch of the NFC title game a year ago. The Bears have injuries of their own: rookie right tackly Gabe Carimi dislocated his knee and will miss a month. Safeties Major Wright (head) and Chris Harris (hamstring) are nursing injuries and their status is unclear.
After a rousing and eye-opening win over Atlanta in Week 1, the Bears melted down in New Orleans. They fell behind in the second half, Mike Martz abandoned the run and almost got his QB killed. Jay Cutler was hit 16 times, knocked down 12 and was sacked six times, five in the fourth quarter after Carimi went down. Martz is getting torched in the media for only running the ball 12 times so he will over-compensate this week. Good lucj against the Pack’s stingy run defense. The Bears’ tight ends didn’t catch a ball last week. With Greg Olsen gone, they’re going with blocking tight ends, which their shaky offensive line needs. But it eliminates a weapon on a team very short of receiving weapons. Right now, to game plan against the Bears you concentrate on taking Matt Forte out of the equation and let someone else beat you.
Cutler was blitzed on 34 of 51 plays and he can expect to see more of the same this week against the Packers. Line coach Mike Tice is doing more shifting. He’ll move guard Frank Omiyale to right tackle and center Chris Spencer to right guard. Roberto Garza is the new center. You can but Cutler will not get a lot of sleep this week.
I’ll have much more on this big game later in the week.