Enemy Intel: What to expect from Packers in Week 2

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As we turn the page from Week 1 to Week 2 in the NFL it’s time to begin looking at the Bears’ next opponent, the Green Bay Packers. The Bears obviously know a lot about the Packers, so it’s a very familiar matchup. However, there have been enough changes to the Team Up North that will add new wrinkles to Sunday’s game. Here’s an initial look at what to expect from the Packers, on offense and defense.

PACKERS OFFENSE

Any discussion of the Packers offense has to start with Aaron Rodgers. There have been questions about how Rodgers would perform this season without Davante Adams, and several new wide receivers around him. In Week 1, Rodgers struggled. The Vikings were able to generate consistent pressure on Rodgers, and it appeared that he didn’t have the rapport with his targets that we’ve grown accustomed to seeing over the years. That said, it’s way too early to say Rodgers is washed. He’s still a future Hall of Fame QB, and he still gets the benefit of the doubt against the Bears.

Rodgers isn’t the only problem though. The Packers also boast two incredibly talented running backs in Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, and the pair represent a thunder and lightning duo. Jones is fast and shifty. Dillon, a bruiser who plows through would be defenders for extra yards. Each man has proven himself a capable pass catcher. Containing the Packers rushing attack will be a handful.

There are some weaknesses to Green Bay’s offense, though. With tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins out in Week 1, the Packers reshuffled their offensive line considerably and the Vikings were able to get in Rodgers’ face early and often. The Bears managed to generate pressure against considerably stiffer competition in Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey. Bakhtiari and Jenkins each returned to practice on Wednesday, as they each rehab from ACL injuries. If either can’t go this week, or if they’re not 100% in their returns, the Bears should be able to generate pressure on Rodgers again.

Finally, there are the pass catchers. With Adams gone, the Packers are relying on both new and old faces. Allen Lazard missed Week 1 with an ankle injury, but he returned to practice on Wednesday. Rodgers’ old pal Randall Cobb returned to Green Bay last season, but he hasn’t made much of an impact in his second stint with the team. Neither has newcomer Sammy Watkins. Then there are the pair of rookies, Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson. Doubs led all Packers receivers with four catches for 37 yards and seemed to have Rodgers’ trust the most. Meanwhile Watson has tantalizing size and speed that can’t be taught, but couldn’t haul in a deep pass on Green Bay’s first offensive play of the game that would’ve gone for an easy 75-yard score. Rodgers didn’t look his way again until there was only 3:57 left in the game. A big knock on Watson coming out of the draft was his propensity to drop the ball. He had 16 drops across his college career, according to PFF. That was significantly more than his peers. Watson will have to work to ditch that reputation.

PACKERS DEFENSE

For all the talk of Green Bay having one of the best secondaries in the NFL, Justin Jefferson torched them to the tune of nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Jefferson is one of the wide wideouts in the NFL, so no defense will be able to shut him down entirely, but the Packers didn’t do themselves any favors either. On one particularly explosive play, there was a big miscommunication on the back end, which allowed Jefferson to waltz into the endzone. After the game, Packers top cornerback Jaire Alexander expressed displeasure to reporters after the game that he didn’t get the opportunity to shadow Jefferson, so maybe he follows Darnell Mooney around the field in Week 2. There’s a good chance that the Packers clean up their miscues in the secondary with experienced players like Alexander, Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage, and rising star Eric Stokes, too. Regardless, the Bears passing attack faces a big challenge in the Packers secondary, despite what last week’s box score in Minnesota shows.

Things do not get any easier for the Bears up front. Kenny Clark anchors the middle of their defensive line as a nose tackle who disrupt the interior of any offensive line. Last season, Clark notched two sacks, six tackles and five QB hits in his two games against the Bears. He represents a big test for players like Sam Mustipher and Teven Jenkins. Preston Smith and Rashan Gary are dangerous coming off the edges at outside linebacker, too. Last season the pair combined for 18.5 sacks. Both Larry Borom and Braxton Jones struggled at times with the 49ers’ talented pass rush, and they’ll have no relief this week.

In the middle, the Packers feature two talented inside linebackers. De’Vondre Campbell joined the team last year and made an instant impact, leading the defense with 145 tackles and only four missed tackles. In addition, he had two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. For his efforts, Campbell was named First-Team All-Pro. Beside him is 2022 first-round pick Quay Walker. The rookie made an instant impact in Week 1, coming in second on the team with eight tackles, despite leaving the game early with a shoulder injury. Walker was a full participant in Wednesday’s practice, so he appears on track to return against the Bears.

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