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Can Packers O-Line Handle Bears' Pass Rush?

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Can Packers O-Line Handle Bears' Pass Rush?

Excitement has to the be in the air if you are a fan of the National Football League. That's because the season-opening game between the Falcons and Eagles will take place tonight. However, if you are a fan of the Green Bay Packers, you have to wait a few more days and ask yourself over and over again, can the Packers block Khalil Mack? 

Of course, the Bears just traded for the All-Pro and 2016 Defensive Player of the Year and you can bet, he will play Sunday night at Lambeau Field. There is a question of how much, but after paying him more than $140 million, you would assume he would be out there in most pass-rush situations. 

If the addition of Mack to the Bears defense, which ranked ninth in points allowed and 10th in yards allowed last season, doesn't scare you, it should. The Bears registered 42 sacks last season before getting Mack, so the pass rush wasn't all that bad to begin with. Guys like Akiem Hicks and Leonard Floyd are both solid and adding Mack to the mix is downright frightening. 

Over the years, Aaron Rodgers has dominated the Bears. In 19 career games vs Chicago, Rodgers has thrown 42 touchdowns and has just nine interceptions. He has also been sacked just 32 times, which is about 1.7 times per game. That's a pretty manageable number. If a team sacks your quarterback once or twice, that's not going to necessarily ruin a game. Yet, if the quarterback is sacked three, four or five times, that is enough to derail an offense. 

That's what the Packers need to avoid against the Bears Sunday night and a huge part of that is going to be the play of the offensive tackles. Bakhtiari has proven to be as good as anyone when it comes to neutralizing pass rushers. If Mack lines up across Bak, then Green Bay should feel pretty confident. On the other hand, if the job falls on Bryan Bulaga, who will be making his first regular-season start since a knee injury, it could more worrisome.

Certainly, the Packers will try to give him help and maybe Bulaga won't need it. When he is healthy, he has proven to be one of the best right tackles in the NFL. He's aging and injuries never help, but if he can still pass protect with the best of them, the two starting tackles may be enough to neutralize Mack. The other pass rushers should cause some concern and too much focus on Mack could give them more one-on-one matchups, however, if Green Bay can handle him one-on-one, for the most part, it will be a huge win for the offense.

Obviously, Mike McCarthy will make some adjustments to the game plan. Quick passes and getting the ball out of Rodgers' hands are sure to be part of it. But don't be surprised if he goes at the Bears with some no-huddle too. If the Bears open a series with Mack on the bench, why give them a chance to sub him in? Go hurry up and keep the personnel on the field. Even if Mack is out there, forcing him to play in a hurry-up tempo, snap-after-snap, may make it tough for him to keep his juice. Remember, after a holdout, there is no way he's in tip-top football shape. 

I also think the Packers will try to establish a running game and should be able too with Jamaal Williams and a healthy offensive line. Keeping Rodgers in manageable situations will also help, especially with his ability to keep the defense off guard with play-action fakes. 

At the end of the day though, the biggest reason the Packers are 15-4 under Rodgers against the Bears has been his success throwing the football and in order for that to continue Sunday night, the Packers have to keep the Chicago pass rush under control. If it does, Green Bay should win the game. If not, things could get very interesting. 

__________________________

Chris is a sports journalist from Montana and has been blogging about the Packers since 2011. Chris has been a staff writer for CheeseheadTV since 2017 and looks forward to the day when Aaron Rodgers wins his second Super Bowl. Follow him @thepackersguru

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (55) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Handsback's picture

Ohhhh let me see.....yes they will. Will Rodgers have to do some scrambling? Probably, and that usually leads to big plays. Bottom line is a Green Bay win by more than 10 points.

Chris Peterson's picture

I hope you are correct. I feel good about it now. Get back to you Sunday night.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Agreed. Mack is a great player but not the only great player on the field. Rodgers, Adams, Cobb, Graham, Lewis, are great players. Monty and Williams are good RB's. And then there's Bakhtiari, McCray, Bulaga. Yeah, they'll do fine. There is plenty of talent to go around on the field. The Bears don't have all the great players. The Packers have many talented players as well. And not just on offense. There's Matthews, Wilkerson, Gilbert, Williams, Clark. Yup, Packers will be just fine.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

Ok while I agree we have talent players, they do to and top 10 defense just added one of the two best d-players in the NFL. Will he be at 100% no way, but everytime he is on the field we have to set 2 guys at him. That allows guys like goldman, floyd, and trevathan 1 vs 1 matchups. Then you add the one defensive coach that usually plays Rodgers well in Fangio the pack are going to have their hands full. Oh yeah they have two really good corners too.

Bure9620's picture

The HUG!!!!!

marpag1's picture

If the Raiders had never traded Mack, and if the Packers were set to open the season on Sunday against the Raiders rather than the Bears, would there have been this much angst about Khalil Mack? Obviously the Bears and Raiders are different teams, but Mack is still Mack, and I think a good bit of the hype surrounding this match-up is just because of the recent trade.

Mack and the Bears D-line will undoubtedly be a little juiced for this one... so be sure to work the hard count on them.

I'm particularly eager to see Akiem "Those-guys-can't-block-us" Hicks get knocked on his can a few times.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'm glad Hicks is excited someone else can come in to do their job, because last season against the Packers he sure as hell didn't.

marpag1's picture

Yeah, I thought that was kind of precious... Akiem Hicks boasting that no Packer lineman could block Mack. That garners about as much respect as a little kid boasting that no one can beat up his big brother.

dobber's picture

It puts a bulls-eye directly on his chest...I'd say helmet, but contact to the head is not allowed.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Dobber: "contact to the head is not allowed." Tell that to Danny Trevathan.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

That's ok. They can just kick him in the ass. It appears he keeps his head up there.

PAPackerbacker's picture

Me too, along with "mega bucks" Mack :-)

Spock's picture

^^THIS^^
Marpag1, "If the Raiders had never traded Mack, and if the Packers were set to open the season on Sunday against the Raiders rather than the Bears, would there have been this much angst about Khalil Mack?"

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"Quick passes and getting the ball out of Rodgers' hands are sure to be part of it."

Why are we sure?
Is it because Philbin is back?

Philbins return givens me hope that the Packers will mix up the passing game to beat the pass rush but after years of them not doing it, I am less than "sure" about it. I hope your right, we did see a "trips" formation in preseason and that gave me a lot more hope.

Nick Perry's picture

I think Montgomery plays a big role Sunday night as will the twin towers Graham and Lewis. Adams has always seemed to have some success and so has Randall "Bear Killer" Cobb. The Packers have a pretty decent starting O-Line and I'd imagine ALL of them are pretty proud men. Hicks for whatever reason just gave that entire group some extra motivation because his comments have been EVERYWHERE.

To make matters more interesting Rodney "Just Shut The Hell Up" Harrison just told millions and millions of people on Thursday Night Football that no one on the Packers O-Line can block Mack. Really Rodney? No One???

I guess Bear Hunting in Wisconsin is starting September 9th this year instead of November.

Tarynfor12's picture

I woke up
got out of bed
put this question
in my head

do do da loo da do do la do

found my way downstairs
and thought a sec
looking up
I knew I'd be right

NOooo..oh..oh..oh...NOooo

dobber's picture

I was expecting the "Baby Shark" video for some reason...

Bearmeat's picture

I don't mess around with kids videos. I know the repertoire forward and backward with my kids in the middle of the parenting phase where this kind of stuff is popular.

RCPackerFan's picture

Didn't the Packers just face the Bears last year with 4 OG's starting? And beat them?
Oh and they also beat them with Hundley playing...

Tarynfor12's picture

Didn't almost every team beat a John Fox coached team for years.

marpag1's picture

Uh.... no, not really. Before the miserable three years Fox spent with a woefully dysfunctional Bears organization, he went 119-89 with the Panthers and the Broncos, appearing in 15 playoff games in 13 years, winning more than half of them (8-7) and reaching the Super Bowl twice (2003, 2013). The 2003 season was particularly amazing considering the team he inherited one season earlier had just finished a 1-15 campaign.

He was 12-4 four years ago with Denver, and 13-3 in both of the two seasons before that.

You're saying the guy was crap?

jeremyjjbrown's picture

He definitely stepped in crap...

marpag1's picture

Indeed. Bear crap... which is the foulest of all craps.

dobber's picture

Let's not get too confident. This is not 2017. This is neither the same Packers nor the same Bears team. Completely different set of circumstances both ways, and week 1 means it's likely to be sloppy football, at least at times. If the Packers play clean and don't shoot themselves in the foot, I think they likely win, Mack or not. They can't put themselves in a hole and try to play from behind.

RCPackerFan's picture

The Bears are going to be a tough team, no question.

My whole point was they beat them playing 4 OG's last year and the DL didn't do much. Having our full OL will be better. Though there may be some rust early.

Fordham Ram's picture

Like the idea of getting the no huddle working to wear Mack out, wouldn't mind seeing a few runs go his way and have Lewis take care of him for good measure.

Mojo's picture

The over saturation of the projected dominance of Khalil Mack and the Bears defense is reminiscent of the expected technological implosion emanating from Y2k.

My God, last year the Bears were 5-11 (Mack, the greatest player to ever lace em up went 6-10 with his former team) yet somehow they've combined to form an unstoppable force the likes we have never seen before.

Stop the self-immolation people. The Pack have more than enough weapons to continue their domination over this over-hyped group of gridironers. The Pack will thwack Mack and debone the Bears.

Oppy's picture

sweet alliteration dude!

Lare's picture

Two keys to help negate the pass rush this season- Graham & Lewis.

Turophile's picture

Maybe Kendricks as well (playing a HB role behind the line of scrimmage).

Qoojo's picture

It's still the same old bears. No offense. Mack isn't even close to football shape no doubt. Packers did just fine against Mack and the Raiders in 2015.

This Mack stuff is a bit overdone at this point. At the worst, just have Lewis chip him on pass plays.

Archie's picture

Keeping an open mind about Sunday night. Am hopeful that defense makes us proud. Not so sure about offense. Yes I believe in Rodgers & Adams & Bak but the rest is all questionable, especially MM. If we can move the ball on the ground enough to keep Bears defense playing honest, AROD will probably get the job done but I'm thinking score differential inside of 7 and under on the total.

D Ernie's picture

I hope you dead on.
Right now how can any of us have any fn idea what this d can do since none of them have played in a very long time, let alone together.
Personally I think our d is a dumpster fire waiting to be put out. Hope I'm worng

Jonathan Spader's picture

Can the Bears OL handle the Packers DL? Perry and CM3 are both healthy for game 1. Can the Beqrs OL protect an inexperienced QB with an unproven WR core and a backup TE being paid like an elite one?

Can the Bears stop Rodgers? Especially a Rodgers with a chip on his shoulder and a couple of new TEs to play with? It's 2018 and even with the addition of Mack the Bears still SUCK. They have their 1st round pick that missed a lot of camp with contract disputes and the highest paid defensive player that missed all offseason and is with a new team. R-E-L-A-X

WMA's picture

The Bears still suck!

PAPackerbacker's picture

The Packers O line will do fine and what they need to do, just like they do against any other great LB they will face all season. They will adjust. I'm sure Mack will do well, but Rodgers will be ready for whatever the Bears throw at him. Rodgers can elude the pass rush better than most QB's and then scramble and make plays down field better than any QB in the NFL. Can the Bears stop that? Nah, advantage Rodgers. Go! Pack! Go!

Point Packer's picture

"Obviously, Mike McCarthy will make some adjustments to the game plan."

Obvious adjustments are not Mikey Mac's forte. Never have been. Likely never will be.

Duke Divine's picture

So what I hear you saying is Mashed Potato Mike has trouble with straying from his usual side dish on the Applebee’s menu...

D Ernie's picture

Mike never makes adjustments to the game plan. He cost the team a possible super bowl by totally fn up the Seattle game we could have been up by 24 at halftime using Rodgers arm and getting TD's rather then running for nothing and getting 3's.
MM is a coach who couldnt coach a high school team but was lucky to have Favre, Rodgers.

Lare's picture

Perhaps its time you found a better team to root for, one that has a HC you can really respect.

D Ernie's picture

I think they will handle it well for four or five plays, then Beluga will go down for the seaon, oh he wont be out, just hampered and the rest of the bums on that line will be overwhelmed.
All I know is I'm watching the game in vegas baby at a nice bar with great food and will not piss and moan everytime the packers screw it up.
Josh Jones hurt again. Really?

Lare's picture

You Vikings fans are a real hoot.

The TKstinator's picture

Ha! He thinks GB has a guy named “Beluga”!
One step closer to grunts and clicks.

Oppy's picture

The only concern I have is bulaga's knee holding up.
Period.

I don't think Mack comes anywhere close to taking over the game, provided Bulaga's knee doesn't give out.

We just have to wait and see how Bulaga looks in a real game. I was in attendance at training camp his first day back out on the field in pads and while he didn't take part in contact drills, his movement and flexibility was really good- he was as low and moving as well if not better than the other linemen.

Mack probably has rust to knock off, bulaga has a knee to test out and regain full trust in. Should be fun to watch. Just get Brian out of the game healthy.

Spock's picture

"...he was as low and moving as well if not better than the other linemen."

So, you are saying he has great "low pad level"? I can sleep well tonight!

Lphill's picture

From all the commotion you would think the Packers are going against the 85 Bears , Packers by 14 , Bears suck go Pack go !

PackfanNY's picture

I am waiting to see what Rodgers can do with some of his new "toys". Rodgers to Graham is almost a given as a deadly weapon. However, I think Rodgers to Valdez-Scantling is something to watch. I have a sneaky suspicion he will be the deep, stretch the field guy that nobody knows about YET. After Sunday night they might all know.

Oppy's picture

Every NFL team that has Green Bay on their schedule in 2018 has looked at MVS' preseason tape. The only thing they won't know is how their guys match up on the field in the flesh. Of course, the same can be said for the Packers.

There aren't many secrets in Pro football.

Jonathan Spader's picture

CM3 switching to ILB was a well kept secret.

Oppy's picture

It wasn't a well kept secret, it was an on-the-fly adjustment that transpired in the middle of the season back in 2014 to try and correct a horrible weakness up the middle of the defense.

LayingTheLawe's picture

Of course with Rodgers the best offensive linemen on the team is him making pre snap reads to get the ball off quick and in play adjustments to make players miss.

Mack probably plays limited snaps and at home you always expect the Packers to score points well.

Spock's picture

I expect a lot of false starts from the Bears as Arod uses his famous hard count to perfection. I just hope we see a lot of early quick passes by GB to get Arod into a rhythm; once QB1 starts in rhythm he stays in rhythm and the offense can 'hum' along.

LambeauPlain's picture

Except the new rule this year is the play is now blown dead when the D jumps offside.

Aaron will not get his free plays this year. I expect he is very unhappy over that rule change.

LambeauPlain's picture

Pro Football Focus ranks every NFL player based on last year's production.

They actually have M. Lewis as a higher ranked TE than Jimmy Graham. They said Lewis is one of the best all round TEs in the NFL.

They lauded Graham's pass receiving but also said the Seahawks misused him by sending him on too many fly routes and not enough over the middle...and bemoaned his lack of blocking.

Lewis is akin to having a 3rd tackle on the field. He's that good blocking.

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