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12/12/2017

Preview: Packers vs. Bears


Here are four big questions heading into tonight’s game between Green Bay and Chicago:

1) Was signing Martellus Bennett a mistake?

It’s too early to call the $20 million veteran tight end a bust, but it’s certainly trending in that direction. Besides dropping balls, Bennett is showing very little in the way of athleticism or desire. Even his blocking has been ordinary. Say what you will about Jared Cook, but he always gave a great effort. Perhaps Bennett will turn things around starting tonight. Or perhaps there’s a reason the 30-year-old is playing for his fifth team in seven seasons. And regardless of whether he picks it up or not, it’s time to give the backups more snaps. Veterans Lance Kendricks (53) and Richard Rodgers (25) are too good to be playing so little.

2) Is it time to give the young running backs a chance?

Absolutely. Ty Montgomery is averaging 3 yards per carry and he showed little burst vs. Cincinnati. He’s not being helped by all the injuries on the offensive line, but teams are also doing a better job of taking away what he does best. That’s the benefit of having tape on a young player. If Mike McCarthy doesn’t trust rookies Jamaal Williams, Aaron Jones and Devante Mays, then why are all three on the 53-man roster? It would’ve made more sense to put one on the practice squad and add a veteran at the end of camp.

3) Should we expect a repeat performance from Josh Jones?

Of course not. The rookie from North Carolina State was terrific against the Bengals (12 tackles and 2 sacks). Counting on that kind of impact every week would be unrealistic. That said, Jones showed the kind of explosiveness that should make him a dangerous weapon if used correctly. In college, his tape was much better the closer he was to the line of scrimmage. That seems to be the case at the next level as well. He won’t be great every week, and he’s going to make mistakes – see Giovani Bernard’s TD in the second quarter of last Sunday’s game – but it’s sure nice to have a special athlete on that side of the ball again.

4) Can the Packers overcome their injuries again?

Cincinnati and Chicago aren’t good teams, but it wasn’t easy last Sunday and it probably won’t be easy tonight – especially if tackles David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga can’t play. The defense should be OK even without studs Mike Daniels and Nick Perry against journeyman QB Mike Glennon, but expecting the offense to move the ball with fringe NFL players Adam Pankey and Justin McCray at tackle might be asking too much – even with Aaron Rodgers. An improved running game would be nice, but that doesn’t seem likely based on the mediocre play of the interior offensive linemen and Montgomery’s sluggish start.


The pick – This would be pretty easy if either Bakhtiari or Bulaga were starting. It’s a lot more difficult without them. Sure Rodgers gives Green Bay a huge advantage at the sport’s most important position, but that advantage will lessen dramatically if No. 12 is running for his life. And considering who’ll be lining up at the tackle positions, that figures to be the case.

The Bears are 1-1 in their last two visits to Lambeau Field and have held the Packers to a total of 39 points in those games. They won’t be intimidated. They’re also a lot healthier – which means even more on a short week. The best chance for the undermanned Packers to win is to run the ball and play good defense. That’s asking a lot of this particular team on this particular night. *CHICAGO 23-19 (Season record: 2-1)

*If either Bakhtiari or Bulaga play, make it Green Bay 27-20.

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About Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for close to 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2006. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey. He’s had numerous articles on the Packers published and he’s been featured on both television and radio over the years.