Analysis: Packers‘ Keys to Beating Bears in 2023 Season Opener
The Green Bay Packers will open their 2023 regular season with a highly-anticipated matchup against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. This game holds particular significance as it marks the beginning of the Jordan Love era in Green Bay, following the reign of Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre, who have long dominated the Bears. With Packers coach Matt LaFleur boasting an 8-0 record against the Bears, the pressure is on to extend the winning streak to nine. The Packers, who are slight road underdogs, will need to overcome several challenges to secure victory in this season opener.
Pressure Justin Fields into sacks and mistakes
The key to disrupting the Bears‘ offense lies in pressuring their young quarterback, Justin Fields. Fields has a history of holding onto the football for too long, inviting pressure and making mistakes. In the previous season, he threw six interceptions and had 14 turnover-worthy plays under pressure, and was sacked a staggering 55 times. The Packers have the talent in their front seven to keep Fields under pressure and create game-changing turnovers. If they can sack Fields three or more times, history suggests that the Bears‘ chances of winning diminish significantly. It will be crucial for the Packers‘ defensive front to not only generate sacks but also to maintain pressure without opening scrambling lanes for Fields.
Beat the blitz
The Bears, known for their aggressive defensive playcalling, will likely come after Jordan Love, the Packers‘ young quarterback. Love has had limited exposure to blitzing during the preseason, so his ability to handle the pressure will be put to the test. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur will need to devise effective countermeasures to overcome the Bears‘ blitz packages. Expect the Bears to employ pre-snap disguise and bring blitzers from various positions on the field to rattle Love and the Packers‘ offensive line. The young passing game must consistently handle the extra pressure to keep the offense moving efficiently and sustain drives.
Win the situations
In critical situations such as third downs and in the red zone, young and inexperienced players often struggle. For the Packers‘ offense led by Jordan Love to succeed, it will be crucial to convert on third down and convert red-zone trips into touchdowns. This will require consistent execution and the ability to make accurate and decisive plays in crucial moments. Fortunately for the Packers, the Bears ranked 32nd in third-down defense and scoring defense overall last season. Additionally, Love showed promise in the preseason, throwing three red-zone touchdown passes. The Packers must protect their offensive line and rely on Love’s accuracy and decision-making skills to make big plays when needed.
Testing the run defense
Although the Bears lost running back David Montgomery in free agency, their offense remains heavily based on the running game. They will rely on running backs Khalil Herbert, Roshon Johnson, and D’Onta Foreman, as well as the dynamic rushing ability of Justin Fields. This matchup presents an excellent opportunity for the Packers‘ defense to showcase their improved run defense after an offseason of emphasis on this aspect of their game. New starting defensive linemen Devonte Wyatt and TJ Slaton will be under scrutiny at the line of scrimmage, and linebacker Quay Walker must step up to limit Fields’ impact as a runner. If the Packers can consistently shut down the Bears‘ running game, it will be challenging for the Bears to generate enough points to win the game.
Jaire Alexander vs. DJ Moore
One of the most exciting matchups in this game will be between Packers cornerback Jaire Alexander and Bears wide receiver DJ Moore. Alexander, a two-time All-Pro, will be tasked with limiting Moore, who has shown great potential with three 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The Bears are hoping that Moore can have a similar impact on their young quarterback as A.J. Brown did for Jalen Hurts last season. Alexander, on the other hand, is known for his exceptional coverage ability. The outcome of this matchup could have a significant impact on the game. If Moore is able to consistently win downfield and make big plays, the Packers‘ defense could be in trouble. However, if Alexander can neutralize Moore’s playmaking ability and force the Bears to rely on other receivers, it will make moving the ball difficult for Chicago. The Packers have invested in Alexander to take away dynamic receivers like Moore, and his performance will be crucial in determining the outcome of this game.
To secure victory in their 2023 season opener against the Bears, the Packers must execute their game plan effectively. This includes pressuring Justin Fields into mistakes, countering the Bears‘ aggressive blitz packages, winning critical situations, shutting down the Bears‘ running game, and neutralizing the impact of DJ Moore with stellar cornerback play from Jaire Alexander. The outcome of this game will not only set the tone for the start of the Jordan Love era but also serve as a testament to Matt LaFleur’s coaching prowess. Ultimately, the Packers must capitalize on their strengths and exploit the weaknesses of the Bears to emerge victorious in this highly anticipated rivalry matchup.
<< photo by Emma Bauso >>
The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.
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