The Chicago Bears Prepare for Justin Fields-Aaron Rodgers Part I

Bears Fields Rodgers

The Chicago Bears will take on the Green Bay Packers for the first time this season, and the first time ever with rookie quarterback Justin Fields, in Week 6. As the league’s oldest rivalry, meetings between the two always receive a certain level of pomp and fanfare. They shouldn’t expect this time to be any different.

Fields has led the Bears to back-to-back wins after getting his baptism into the league at the hands of Myles Garrett and the Cleveland Browns.

Green Bay, after a three-point dud in the opener against the New Orleans Saints, has averaged a little over 29 points per game. Chicago, with their quarterback of the future under center, has averaged 22 points per game.

The Bears haven’t beaten Green Bay since 2017 and haven’t won at Lambeau Field since 2015.

Fields-Rodgers Part I Begins New Chapter in Storied Bears-Packers Rivalry

Strength vs Strength

This year doesn’t figure to get any easier as the Packers look to once again be among the cream of the crop in the NFC. They’re 13th in points, 10th in offense DVOA, and, over the last three weeks, ninth in passing yards per game.

Chicago’s defense has been on a tear, especially in the last two weeks. They lead the league in sacks and are fifth in defense DVOA.

There are really four battles to keep an eye on.

First and foremost is Rodgers against the Bears defensive front led by Khalil Mack and a resurgent Robert Quinn. A master of the hard count, Rodgers seemingly draws opponents offsides once or twice a game. The results are a free five yards at best and, at worst six points on the board.

His favorite target is Davante Adams, who is in the discussion for the best wide receiver in the game today. He leads the league in targets, receptions, and yards. Surprisingly, he has just two touchdowns on the year. Bears corner Jaylon Johnson will have his hands full with his greatest test to date.

The second-year man has allowed just 44 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed and they’ve gone for just 177 total yards and zero scores.

Linebacker Roquan Smith, who is also having a stellar campaign, won’t get off easy this week. He’ll be tasked with keeping Aaron Jones, A.J. Dillon, and (at times) Rodgers in check. The Bears are 12th in rush defense. That’s one spot behind the Packers who have shut opponents down the last three weeks despite injuries on that side of the ball.

Lastly, Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson against Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis. The Bears have done better against tight ends so far this season but have given up big plays in the passing game.

Developing vs Recuperating

The Bears offense is, to put it kindly, a work in progress. They’ve rushed for 328 yards over the last two weeks but also have yet to break 200 passing yards with Fields under center. What they have done is be more aggressive in taking shots downfield. What’s more, their renewed commitment to and effectiveness with the run has transcended who the ball carrier is.

Backups Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert combined for 139 yards and score on 34 carries.

It’s unlikely the pace stays conducive to that kind of run-pass split. Green Bay’s 11th-ranked rush defense is 29th in rush defense DVOA but lineman Kenny Clark and EDGE Rashan Gary both appear on ESPN’s Run Block Win Rate leaderboard for their respective positions.

Williams and Herbert softened the blow of losing stud runner David Montgomery for the next month or so. 

With Green Bay down Jaire Alexander and, most likely, Kevin King, however, there will be chances to take shots against rookie Eric Stokes and company. The Bears will almost certainly need to take and connect on those to have a chance at victory. We’ve seen what the Packers can do when within striking distance even with little time on the clock.

This might be a week to open it up a little more than usual. That may be the case whether the Bears want or not. 

The ability to lean on the running game is predicated on being in the lead or at least close enough not to need the chunk plays. How will a Bears offensive line that’s looked like it was coming together in recent weeks hold up under the duress of a comeback?

When last tested in that way, it didn’t go well.

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Bears Fans Brace for Fields-Rodgers

On Thursday, Rodgers was asked if he could name all 16 quarterbacks the Bears have started during his tenure. He gave up after four, something to which many can probably relate. It’s been rough to not only have your franchise struggle to figure out the most important position in sports, but also have your most-hated rival figure it out on back-to-back tries.

Fields represents a chance to change all of that. It’ll be tough to make that happen this season. But who knows how much longer Rodgers is in Green Bay after reports were this was to be his final with the team.

In the meantime, the Bears rookie says he is looking to learn from the surefire Hall of Famer than he is thinking of this game as a head-to-head matchup.

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