CHICAGO, IL (WBAY) - As the Green Bay Packers prepare to kick off the NFL’s 100th season against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, it’s time to get ready for a new year with Dave Schroeder’s ‘Fast 5 Pack Facts.’
#1 Audible Issue: This week coach Matt LaFleur tried to put this topic to bed, announcing quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have all the freedom in the world to get Green Bay into good plays at the line of scrimmage.
The offseason’s oft-discussed ‘audible issue’ stemmed from the fact that LaFleur’s offense (grown from the Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching trees) employs a lot of pre-snap motion, taking precious play-clock time, thus limiting play-call changes at the line of scrimmage.
Rodgers, of course, has enjoyed the freedom to adjust pre-snap in the past. It will be interesting to see how often Rodgers chooses to diverge from the play calls and “cans” that LaFleur has in place (cans are the play-call options in place that quarterbacks “can” easily switch to within the framework of the pre-snap motion and design). Further audibles would complicate things.
#2 Offensive timing & rhythm: How will we know if Matt LaFleur’s new scheme is working with Aaron Rodgers at the controls? Well, besides points on the board, the tell-tale signs include quick pace in and out of the huddle coupled with decisive decision-making after the snap.
LaFleur’s quarterbacks have historically been able to get the ball out of their hands in a hurry, though Rodgers has liked to buy time in the past, waiting for better options to come open deep down the field. The marriage of these 2 styles will be the most intriguing thing to watch this season.
#3 Mack Attack: Last year Bears edge rusher Khalil Mack wrecked the Packers plans, and it took an epic comeback in Week 1 for the Packers to split the season series. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga will have his hands full warding off Mack, who had 3.5 sacks, an interception returned for a TD, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery in his 2 games against Green Bay last year. Making matters even more difficult, offensive holding calls will be a point of emphasis for referee crew this season.
#4 Pettine’s practices in motion: Year 2 under Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine promises to net better results. The coach coordinated the first non-top-10 defense of his career last year. But the free agent additions of (former Bear) safety Adrian Amos plus outside linebackers ZaDarius Smith and Preston Smith is being counted on.
The team also spent both of its 1st-round draft picks on defense, taking edge rusher Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage. There will be no excuses for the unit this year. After less than 1 takeaway per game in 2018, Pettine wants to see his unit display a propensity to force turnovers.
#5 Chapter 199: The most storied rivalry in NFL history is renewed on the national stage tonight. The Packers only surpassed the Bears in the all-time series 2 years ago, and they want to assert their ownership of Solider Field once more. Prior to last December’s loss in Chicago, Green Bay had won 8 consecutive games at Soldier Field.
Prediction: Bears 20, Packers 16
You can tune in to Action 2 News at 4, 5, and 6 p.m. for LIVE pregame reports. And of course tune in to Sunday Sports Night Cover 2 at 10:35 (Sunday night). The season premiere show will feature Pro Bowl defensive lineman Kenny Clark joining Chris Roth in studio.