3 Storylines: Packers vs. Bears
Here’s a preview of what to watch for when the Packers host the Chicago Bears for a 7:25 p.m. kickoff Thursday night.
1. What do the Packers do at running back?
Through the first five games of their 2016 regular season, the one aspect of this Green Bay Packers offense that consistently has looked like it belongs in the National Football League has been the running game. Mike McCarthy would like nothing better than to give Eddie Lacy the ball on Thursday night against the Bears. Lacy rushed for 105 yards and had a touchdown catch in last year’s game in Lambeau.
The trouble this week, of course, is the bothersome ankle injury that limited Lacy against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday and whether Lacy is able to bounce back from playing on it during a short week. The overnight trade for Knile Davis and calling up Don Jackson from the practice squad could suggest the Packers are planning to play Thursday night without their star running back.
Complicating things further is the knee injury to James Starks, which required surgery and will keep the veteran running back on the shelf for several weeks.
If Davis is unable to get up to speed in time for Thursday night's game, the Packers will be forced to use wide receiver Ty Montgomery in the backfield extensively yet again.
2. Can Aaron Rodgers get right against the Bears?
Not much more can be said about the poor play of the former two-time league MVP. However, it will continue to be a storyline for this Packers team for as long as he continues to struggle.
Last Thanksgiving, Jay Cutler came into Lambeau Field and outplayed Rodgers, something that would have seemed unthinkable a few years ago. Now, after a string of sub-standard to downright poor play, one is left to wonder if he can even outplay the Bears’ current starter, Brian Hoyer.
Rodgers and McCarthy undoubtedly will look to get into an offensive rhythm early. As McCarthy stated Monday, the West Coast offense, at its core, is designed to help make the quarterback successful. The Bears’ defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio, has a good history of making things difficult on Rodgers and McCarthy. As poorly as the Bears (1-5) have played this season, this will be far from a walk in the park for the Packers' offense and its quarterback.
3. The sub-standard quality of play during Thursday Night Football.
Thursday night should have featured the return of Josh Sitton to Lambeau Field. Unfortunately, for pure entertainment and drama's sake, that likely won't be happening due to an ankle injury Sitton suffered on Sunday when the Bears took on the Jacksonville Jaguars.
On a short week, there's simply no way for guys to recover and get back on the field. It's why we won't see Sitton and why we most likely won't see Eddie Lacy, This is Thursday Night Football, where teams patch together a lineup based strictly on who isn't being worked on by the medical staff.
The Packers and Bears combined had a whopping 24 players on this week's initial injury report. That is an absurd number that belies the ongoing issue with these Thursday night games. Team's are forced to put together quick, vanilla game plans for their MASH-unit rosters and then hope for the best. The result is almost always poor, sloppy play that borders on unwatchable.