Bears at Packers: Expect Aaron Rodgers to heat up

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Unfinished business: The Bears‘ 17-16 loss to the Jaguars was so painful because they missed several chances to put the game out of reach. Twice in the second half, the Bears settled for field goals from inside the 20-yard line. Offensive players have taken turns expressing their frustration. Alshon Jeffery dropped an F-bomb in the locker room after the game. Zach Miller was more understated but just as direct. “We have to find a way to capitalize,” he said. “Good football teams do that. We’re not at that point right now.” The causes vary. A missed block here, a wrong read there. There appears to be no easy fix.

Long way up: Losing at home to the Jaguars, a perennial NFL doormat, opened a new set of possibilities for this Bears season — and not in a good way. The Jaguars haven’t won more than five games in a season since 2010, but they left Soldier Field victorious after erasing a 13-0 fourth-quarter deficit. If the Bears can blow that lead to that team, 3-13 seems within their reach. Meanwhile, players have remained steadfast in their approach ahead of Thursday night’s game against the Packers, followed by a Halloween night showdown with the currently-undefeated Vikings. The Bears could easily be 1-7 on Nov. 1.

Painful turnaround: A short week was the last thing the banged-up Bears needed, especially with quarterback Aaron Rodgers coming up. Rodgers could face a secondary without starting cornerbacks Tracy Porter (knee) and Bryce Callahan. Factor in the Bears’ inconsistent pass rush and the Packers’ stout offensive line, and Rogers could turn his season around in a hurry. The Bears also will be without left guard Josh Sitton (right ankle). They had played the same five offensive linemen for every snap until Sitton was hurt on the penultimate play against the Jaguars. But the Packers are depleted too, particularly in the backfield and secondary.

Unpacked: Aaron Rodgers’ slow start is one of the biggest NFL storylines. His completion percentage (60.2) and passer rating (88.4) are lower than any of his single-season marks since he became a full-time starter in 2008. His interception rate of 2.2 percent is the highest it has been since 2010. “The preparation and the approach every week has been the same,” Rodgers said, “and I hope the guys would say my attitude and focus has been the same. I’m trying my best to be … a good teammate and realize, hey, we’re still 3-2. We’re in the mix here. We have some stuff to clean up, but we’re not far off.”


In the air

NFL rank: Bears offense 4th, Packers defense 21st

Quarterback Brian Hoyer must decipher the disguises, alignments and blitzes Packers coordinator Dom Capers deploys. Hoyer has proven he will be conservative. “I’m not about taking chances, risking the football,” he said Tuesday. “The No. 1 priority is taking care of the football.” But chances downfield could be plentiful as the Packers could be without their top three cornerbacks because of injuries. That would leave them with a pair of unheralded youngsters in LaDarius Gunter and Demetri Goodson. Hoyer targeted Alshon Jeffery a season-high 13 times last Sunday.

On the ground

NFL rank: Bears offense 23rd, Packers defense 2nd

The Packers had the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense until Cowboys rookie Ezekiel Elliott racked up 157 yards on 28 carries behind a star-studded offensive line last Sunday. Three-technique Mike Daniels plays with good leverage, leading a line that consistently gets penetration. On the second level, Nick Perry and Clay Matthews are in a rotation of linebackers that flies to the ball. The Bears must overcome the loss of left guard Josh Sitton (right ankle). Rookie center Cody Whitehair was pushed back at times last game by the Jaguars’ powerful tackles.

Bears 7th in total offense, 31st in points scored

Packers 10th in total defense, 16th in points allowed

Scouting report: Known for his pinpoint accuracy, Rodgers’ completion percentage this season (26th among those with 100 pass attempts) is alarming. In some circles, there’s a sense he’s frequently bolting the pocket prematurely and not seeing the field as well on the move. Most troubling from last week’s 30-16 home loss to Dallas, Rodgers threw one interception and fumbled twice. On the pick, the Packers quarterback never saw safety Barry Church undercutting a throw over the middle, an uncharacteristic blunder that thwarted a third-quarter drive. Still, the Bears defense might be the perfect tonic for Rodgers’ woes, particularly with the prospect that both starting cornerbacks — Tracy Porter (knee) and Bryce Callahan (hamstring) — are iffy to play. That could leave Fangio in scramble mode, perhaps forced to use Jacoby Glenn and De’Vante Bausby on the outside. Fangio insists there’s no secret for disrupting Rodgers. “You just have to play well,” he said. Which means winning one-on-one matchups in coverage, creating consistent pressure and staying alert when Rodgers is on the move.

Word from within: “I still see the great quarterback he is with the release and the scrambling and the mobility and the creativity and the accuracy. They have gotten beat by maybe the two best teams in the NFL currently in Dallas and Minnesota.” — Fangio

Scouting report

Mike Daniels, Packers DE

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