According to Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, there is a basic formula for success against quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the 3-2 Green Bay Packers.
But that doesn't mean it's easy.
And it doesn't mean the Bears have the players capable of implementing the plan, but it worked last year.
"Any time you play any good offense, if you can keep the big plays to a minimum, that always helps," Fangio said. "If you can take the ball away a couple times, that always helps."
The 1-5 Bears have just 6 take-aways, and only three NFL teams have fewer. But Fangio's defense is 14th in sacks with 9 in the past three games, including 5 by outside linebacker Willie Young. The problem with the Bears' pass rush is that Young is the only player consistently getting after the quarterback.
"He's winning his 1-on-1 battles more times than he's not," Fangio said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of aggressiveness and assertiveness. He's a guy that's been a leader through example for the defense, making good plays and playing with a lot of energy."
Getting pressure on Rodgers isn't enough. He has demonstrated frequently against the Bears that he can use his mobility and escapability in the pocket to buy time while keeping his eyes trained downfield for a big play.
"You've got to be able to deal with this guy scrambling around and creating," Fangio said. "He's going to do that, no matter, in every game he's ever played."
Rodgers has thrown 4 interceptions this year, and 3 have come on third-down plays.
In the take-away department for the Bears, Young forced a fumble last week on his second sack.
Cornerback Tracy Porter has half of the Bears' 4 interceptions, despite playing with a nagging knee injury that has limited him at practice for much of the season. He's questionable for the Packers but expected to play.
"He's been a leader for that group back there," Fangio said. "He's trying to lead by example. He's fighting through injuries himself. He's played with injuries the last few games. And he's always been there, and he's always been willing to accept the challenges."
The Bears rose to the challenge last year in their 17-13 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field on a rainy Thanksgiving night. The Bears had 2 take-aways in that game, including Porter's only interception of the season.
"I remember it being a pretty miserable night; it rained all night," Bears coach John Fox said. "But any time you walk out of it with a win, especially being on the road against a division team, it makes it worth all the effort."
The Bears are 2-9 since that victory in Green Bay, and they might need another upset win to keep this season from spiraling into disaster.
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