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Five Key Questions Heading Into Week One Against the Bears

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Five Key Questions Heading Into Week One Against the Bears

Gameday is just three days away. While preseason answered some questions, there are others that will be unanswered until the Packers take the field for meaningful action.

Here are five questions I'll have in mind while watching the Packers take on the Bears on Sunday.

Q: How long will it take the offense to get in sync?

It seems like every year it takes a little bit of time for the offense to truly get into sync. This year, it could very well take longer than usual, thanks to the extremely limited game action the number one offense saw in the preseason combined with the reintroduction of Joe Philbin at offensive coordinator. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has a history of managing Aaron Rodgers, and the Bears had an improving defense even before adding Khalil Mack via trade over Labor Day weekend. It wouldn't shock me to see Rodgers and the offense come out and smoke the Bears, but it also wouldn't surprise me if there are quite a few growing pains.

Q: How will the secondary perform?

Cornerback seems to suddenly be a position of strength, but you never really know until you get into the games that actually matter. Meanwhile, the safety position is perhaps the subject of the most concern among Packer fans. It remains to be seen whether either Kentrell Brice or Josh Jones will step up this year and become a capable starter. The bigger question is whether Ha Ha Clinton-Dix can redeem himself after an absolutely dreadful 2017 campaign. Clinton-Dix has pro bowl talent, but had a lot of struggles last year and seemed to quit on the team toward the end. It's a contract year for him, so his performance won't just affect the Packers' success this season--it'll also influence whether he's wearing green and gold in 2019.

Q: Will Mike Pettine's scheme successfully generate pass rush?

When it comes to concerns Packer fans have about the team this year, pass rush is second only to the safety position. The Packers did not add an edge rusher in free agency or the draft, though they did add Mo Wilkerson to the interior line rotation. If the pass rush is to succeed this year, the Packers will have to get more production out of their starting OLBs, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, in addition to the pressure they're certain to get from their studs on the defensive line, Kenny Clark and Mike Daniels. Keep an eye on Reggie Gilbert and Montravius Adams rotating in to get some pass rush opportunities. If either is able to step up this year and be a big contributor in pass defense, that will be big for the Packers.

Q: Will the offensive line hold up?

Really, you have to feel pretty good about the Packers' starting five of Bakhtiari, Taylor, Linsley, McCray and Bulaga on the offensive line. The big question is what happens if one of them gets hurt and misses significant time, as seems to happen every year. You'll be hard-pressed to find any teams in the NFL that have strong depth on their offensive line, but the question marks seem to be especially large for the Packers. Can a guy like Jason Spriggs, for example, keep the ship afloat if Bulaga or Bakhtiari have to miss time? Hopefully we won't have to find out, but the chances are always better than not that at least one of the linemen will miss some time.

Q: Can the running game be a consistent relief to Rodgers and the passing game?

When you have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, it's safe to assume the passing game is going to be strong. Plenty of fans have had high hopes for the Packers' running game this year, but what is a realistic expectation for the trio of Jamaal Williams, Ty Montgomery and Aaron Jones? It's been a few years since the Packers had a truly consistent and reliable running game on the backs of Eddie Lacy (pre-injuries and ballooning weight) and James Starks. Can the current crop of runners help keep the pressure off Rodgers on a consistent basis from week to week, rather than being sporadically effective as we've seen all too many times out of the running game in the Rodgers era?

 

I can't wait to start getting some answers to these and other questions this Sunday.

 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (33) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

GBPDAN1's picture

I'd like to add can our D cover TEs and RBs out of the backfield? The biggest question on our D in my opinion is whoever's playing next to Martinez and our Safeties performance (even more than OLB as long as Perry and Matthews stay healthy).

In the past, TEs and RBs in the passing game would gouge us, or the middle of the field would be open on third down. I hope Pettine D plays this better.

kevgk's picture

I don't know why people think Fangio is any good against the Packers. Rodgers has like 28 PPG against the Fangio Bears and over 26 PPG against him overall.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yeah, it was more like the 49ers completely had Capers number IIRC.

Ludadave's picture

Daafaaa. You actually spent time writing this? wtf

DragonSilk's picture

You actually spent time reading this?

Tim Backes's picture

Sure did, thanks for reading and commenting!

jeremyjjbrown's picture

"How will the secondary perform?"

Well, they are a bunch of rookie CBs (King doesn't have a full season). But the Bears have basically a rookie QB in a new system so I bet it evens out.

RCPackerFan's picture

This will actually be a really good test for our young CB's. Bears have really improved their WR group. Robinson, Gabriel, Miller, White form a good group of WR's. Miller is the one to really watch out for IMO.
Then add in other weapons the Bears have. Cohen, Burton.. This offense will be much improved.

dobber's picture

Loved Miller coming into the draft. Sad he didn't end up in GB.

Packmaniac's picture

Ditto, Dobber

Rossonero's picture

Same here Dobber. I wonder if he was available, would Gute have pulled the trigger.

RCPackerFan's picture

He was available in the 2nd round. Packers chose Josh Jackson instead. Can't argue with that pick right now.

holmesmd's picture

Didn’t Miller almost lose his leg last season?! I thought he was done?! WTH?!

Jonathan Spader's picture

The Bears WR still sucks even of its improved on paper along with the QB throwing to them. Robinson is coming back from a serious injury. Gabriel is Trevor Davis. White was healthy the day he was drafted and hasn't been since. Rookie WRs rarely have an impact year 1 in the NFL. Love Miller's potential and also wish the Packers could have landed him but am happy with Moore, MVS, and ESB's potential.

On top of their questionable group at WR the Bears have a lot of ?s on their OL. Kyle Long was their best OL and he's coming back from injury. They cut Sitton. Their LT is a 7th round draft pick. Their QB is still inexperienced. I'm not worried about the Bears in 2018. 2019 or 2020 we should see some improvement but past that they have to pay Mitch and Mack. They have no draft capital left.

Lphill's picture

Still have Veterans in the secondary, Williams , House ,Ha Ha . Should be a good mix.

Spock's picture

I'm hoping Philbin has the offense starting out with quick rhythm short passes (especially with all the tall receivers and TE's who can be center field). Rodgers always seemed to do well after some quick short passes get his rhythm going. As I recall during the "run the table" games that was how most of them started. I can't wait to see the "new" offense and new defense in action Sunday. Let the game begin!

Savage57's picture

Good point. I recall the game against the Eagles where AR came out firing on those quick slants and the Packers offense just took off from there.

I've not seen anything this preseason that looks like the 'find a space and squat route' that became the signature of the offense the last couple of seasons.

DragonSilk's picture

They showed in pre-season they don't need a lot of reps to sync up AROD throwing a high one for Jimmy to jump up and catch in the end zone. Look for at least one of those Sunday night.

RCPackerFan's picture

Those are good questions.

My 5 questions, would be similar.

How long till the offense gets in sync-
This was my first question. They won't be a fine oiled machine right away. Hopefully they can capitalize on mistakes and opportunities given to them.

What will the real defense look like with Pettine-
Up to this point we haven't seen the true Pettine defense. We know its going to be vastly different from Capers. But how will he scheme it to get pressure, to cause confusion.

How long till Rodgers gets into rhythm with the new weapons -
Graham, Lewis, Tonyan, Moore, MVS, ESB are all new weapons this year for Rodgers to use. Now some likely won't be even playing but how long will it take for him to start using these guys and get in sync with them.

New look offense after scrub brush approach-
We have heard all offseason changes were being made that they were taking a scrub brush to the playbook. So what will the new look offense look like. Will we notice a change? We know we will see a lot more 2 TE sets, but what else will be changed?

Who emerges or takes a leap?
Every year someone emerges or takes a step in play. Last year Clark, Martinez, McCray all really took a step. Who is this years players to emerge? Reggie Gilbert, Montravius Adams, Kevin King, Jamaal Williams, Geronimo Allison are all players to watch closely.

Tundraboy's picture

Nicely done RC. Sums it up pretty well for me right now. I am very anxious for this game to get here. Not expecting a finished product,by any means,but I'm certainly hoping that they come out with a statement game.100th Season opener,and the Bears no less. After last season,and all the changes, discussions and debates,its time for the coaches and players to show that they want to win a Championship.

RCPackerFan's picture

Thanks Tundra.
I'm anxious as well. I would love a statement game. I would love a game in which we really blow them out but also have a lot of stuff to work on.

I have a feeling its going to be a close game though.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I am hoping Clark continues his trajectory from last season which IMO is pointed at All Pro.

RCPackerFan's picture

Completely agree. I think he is on that path as well.

I want to see Daniels and Wilkerson build off of Clark as well.

Matt Gonzales's picture

I'd add Jones to the list. He will be starting late but the kid has a lot of Darren Sproles in him, and just seems to run with an energy GB hasn't seen in a while. I could envision a lot of 2-back sets this year, as we have 3 backfield options that can all run, run routes, and catch out of the backfield. Put them with 2TE and 1 WR and you have a heck of a hurry up semi-heavy set, with Ty and Graham both able to split wide as needed.

RCPackerFan's picture

Yeah, I left Jones off the list because this was meant for the Bears game only. But yeah I can't wait till Jones plays. Jones I think will add a new dimension to the offense.

I can't wait to see what Jones does with Lewis as a blocker.

Montgomery and Jones are more similar in that they can be weapons as Receivers as well. Williams can catch but he isn't the route running WR like the other 2 can be.

I think Montgomery has an impact in the Bears game.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Ty DOMINATED the last Bears game. I don't think that will happen this week but I think he will definitely make an impact, and if GB can get either RB in a good rhythm on the ground or short yardage it could really open up the passing game.

RCPackerFan's picture

I think Ty's versatility will be on display in this game. I just have this feeling that they are going to use him everywhere. At RB and WR. Using him more in the passing game trying to get him the ball in space.

What will really open up the passing game to RB's is Graham and Cobb stretching the middle of the field.

I'm excited to see our offense.

DragonSilk's picture

I hope they display him prominently, because they'll only have just so many chances to do it while he's healthy.

PatrickGB's picture

One Question that I have is, “How will the special teams do with all the new parts and pieces”?

Since '61's picture

I'm thinking that if the right side of our OL holds up this offense can be lethal. That's the big question for the offense. If the OL stays healthy the offense will be fine.

On defense generating a pass rush is the key question. Generating pressure, forcing the QBs move and getting sacks will be key to enabling our young CBs to make plays. I'm expecting the defense to play faster than it has for a while and that should make a difference as well.

I hate to say that the first game of the season is critical but with the Vikings in week 2 the Packers need to defeat the Bears and ensure that we don't end up 0-2 to start the season.

I'm hoping to see that the Packers will come out and play more aggressively both offensively and defensively. Attack both on offense and defense with no let up. Get the offense is rhythm with short quick throws and then open it up. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Rossonero's picture

While I don't consider the CB position to be a strength yet, I am excited about the potential. Safety position worries me. After losing Morgan Burnett, we need Clinton-Dix to step up more than ever. Sounds like Josh Jones won't play either due to an injury.

As for the pass rush, I'll be interested the most in Muhammed Wilkerson, Montravius Adams and Reggie Gilbert. Someone has to emerge.

White92's picture

The sports talk radio meatheads have their pants down around their ankles down here in Chicago. I guess after not sniffing the playoffs for 7 years they are entitled to be a little frisky.

An unknown here to me is Matt Nagy. He says all the right things and the media is impressed, but no one knows how he will do as a head coach. If he works with Turbisky as well as Mac has with Rodgers, they could be an issue. Obviously it's much too early to tell. Turbisky clearly doesn't have a whole lot to work with this year. Should be interesting.

4thand10's picture

He’s got all kinds of players to “work with”.....Howard, Robinson, Burton, Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, Kevin White etc..
If Chicago doesn’t perform well...that’s squarely on Turbisky and coaching. But on paper, that team looks stacked pretty good.

With that said, I hope they make lots of mistakes, and the Packers take advantage of those mistakes for the Win. But even as a most hardcore packers fan that roster looks better than ours when you look at them side by side with a few exceptions. Rodgers is the great equalizer in all of this though. Go pack Go.

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