Matt LaFleur on the Packers' run defense in the victory over the Bears: 'It wasn't good enough.'
GREEN BAY – On the Chicago Bears' penultimate drive Sunday night — the one they needed for any hope of pulling out a win — the Justin Fields-led offense marched down field on the Green Bay Packers' defense, picking up 89 yards on 13 plays. All of the yardage came on the ground.
During an otherwise redeeming performance from the Packers' defense in the 27-10 victory, the rush defense faltered on that fourth-quarter drive. Joe Barry’s squad held the Bears to 70 yards through the air and Fields to 7-of-11 passing, thanks to a smothering secondary and fast pass rush.
But giving up 180 yards on the ground, behind a strong 122-yard performance from David Montgomery, will be the focus of practice for the Packers this week, especially with Leonard Fournette of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the horizon.
“We need to clean up the run,” cornerback Jaire Alexander said. “Minus the run, yes, exactly, (defense) was perfect. But you know, we got a good back next week that we need to prepare for.”
After a 71-yard scripted drive on the Bears' opening possession, the Packers' defense held Chicago to a net 3 yards for the rest of the first half. But the Bears, under new offensive coordinator (and former Packers passing coordinator) Luke Getsy, stuck with what they knew could work. They were right and it wore down the Packers defense, particularly on the 13-play, 89-yard drive.
“It wasn't good enough, certainly on that drive,” coach Matt LaFleur said. “I think we can all acknowledge that. They did a nice job. I gotta give Getsy credit because that's hard. It's hard to do when it's a two-possession game in the fourth quarter to just stay disciplined and I thought he did a really nice job with that.”
In total, the Bears gained 136 of their 180 rushing yards in the second half; and 104 in the fourth quarter alone. Tape is always easier to study after a win, but the film review will still provide ample areas in which to improve against the run.
“We were in some situations to where we had him in second-and-long, get back on track situations," LaFleur said. "And, typically, you're thinking because the offense is either going to screen or run some sort of pass. So we put more of our pass-coverage defense out there in terms of our nickel, versus I think they were in 12 personnel. And they gutted us on a couple of powers for big yardage and that's why I got to give (Getsy) a lot of credit for just staying disciplined with that approach.”
Even as Alexander points out the need to shore up the run defense, he also has to acknowledge the promising possibility it can be fixed sooner rather than later thanks in large part to the defensive front seven general manager Brian Gutekunst has built over the past few years. It feels different, acknowledged Alexander, because of the speed of the front seven.
“My first year here in 2018, I had about 70 tackles that year," Alexander said. "Me and (former inside linebacker) Blake (Martinez), we was running around here tackling everybody.
"So I mean it's good to have some dogs down here that's gonna be willing to do that."