Alshon Jeffery, Bears offense present test for Packers

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Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has developed into one of the league's top big targets in his second season.
Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has developed into one of the league’s top big targets in his second season.

A year ago, Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was–if anything–a detriment to Chicago’s offense when the Bears and Green Bay Packers met at Soldier Field in December. As the Packers clinched the NFC North title, Jeffery was flagged for three offensive interference penalties and failed to catch a pass.

Jeffery totaled just 367 yards in 10 games last season. Four weeks ago at Minnesota, Jeffery racked up 249 yards and a pair of scores in one game alone, boosting his stat line to a near-1,000 yard spike in production up to this point of the season.

And with Jeffery on one side, Brandon Marshall on the other and Matt Forte reaping the benefits underneath, the Bears suddenly boast one of football’s more explosive offenses.

With backup Josh McCown at quarterback in the Nov. 4 meeting at Lambeau Field, Jeffery caught five passes for 60 yards and a touchdown–a marked improvement over last year’s seven total yards in two meetings. Head coach Marc Trestman and the Bears have remained consistent throughout their “quarterback controversy,” making it clear that Jay Cutler would be the starter as long as he’s healthy.

Cutler carries his 1-8 career record against the Packers into Sunday’s win-and-in scenario, while Aaron Rodgers makes his return for the Packers after a seven-game absence. And while Rodgers has tilted the game in the Packers’ favor in Vegas, Cutler and Chicago’s offense is gearing up to make Sunday’s game a shootout.

When the Packers have the ball, they’ll likely feature a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy and James Starks against Chicago’s leaky run defense. Rodgers figures to take more downfield shots than Matt Flynn in recent weeks, but the Packers’ run-heavy offense will likely continue this week.

If the Packers are able to run the ball effectively and control the clock, then Chicago’s offense, which has scored 30 points six times this season, will be limited to a certain extent.

Coming into the season, cornerback appeared to be one of the Packers’ deepest positions. Last year’s leader in interceptions, Casey Hayward, figured to help mask the loss of turnover creator Charles Woodson, while Sam Shields stepped into the No. 1 cornerback role, veteran Tramon Williams was recharged and youngsters Davon House and rookie Micah Hyde looked to build on a strong preseason.

Now, Hayward is out for the season and House’s role on defense has taken a significant dip, as he’s played just one snap since the Thanksgiving debacle in Detroit. The Packers are left with Shields and Williams on the perimeter and Hyde in the slot when they’re in the nickel.

There are plenty of individual matchups that could tilt this game in one direction, but how Shields and Williams fare against Jeffery and Marshall is perhaps No. 1 on Dom Capers’ to-do list.

Jeffery has certainly come a long way since last December, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be held without a catch once again. While Shields (5-11) and Williams (5-11) have been relatively reliable over the course of the second half of the season, the Bears’ top two receivers may be the top duo in the NFL.

At 6’3″ 216, Jeffery has the size and natural ball skills to win one-on-one battles against cornerbacks, and the same can be said about the 6’4″ Brandon Marshall.

Sunday’s early forecast calls for a chance of snow and 17 mile-per-hour wind. The gusts could slow down both passing games, but both offenses will surely take their fair share of shots. And Jeffery is one of the best in the business with “50/50 balls” that the quarterback tosses up to give his guy a chance. The Packers will need to make sure Jeffery and Marshall don’t come up with more than half of those 50/50 balls.

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Follow @MJEversoll

Marques is a Journalism student, serving as the Sports Editor of UW-Green Bay\'s campus newspaper The Fourth Estate and a Packers writer at Jersey Al\'s AllGBP.com. Follow Marques on Twitter @MJEversoll.

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  • http://GV889@aol.com Jerry

    Packers need to get a pass rush.I watched the Bears and Browns game and Cutlers accuracy was pretty bad. Shields and Williams should be able to make at least on pick, and it sure would be nice if Burnett can get his hands on one of Cutlers floaters! I kind of feel relieved that Cutler is starting instead of the other guy who beat us on that monday nite game

  • Stroh

    At 6’3 216 Jeffery is the same size as Jordy. Honestly would rather have Jordy than Jeffrey. Jordy runs better routes, is a better deep threat, has better hands. Jeffrey might be able to outjump on tossups, but that’s the only thing he’s better at.

    • Archie

      Jeffery’s hands remind me of Chris Carter’s HOF paws. Jordy is great but Jeffery is too. Our midget CBs will have a hard time defending Jeffery, Marshall and Bennett. Especially if TT’s 3 HIPPO defense produces zero pass rush as usual.
      Combining HIPPOs and MIDGETs does not seem like a successful defensive formula in today’s NFL. Add to that the fact we are eviscerated at OLB and our two starting ILBs have sucked all year. And no S help. The only good news is CHI’s defense sucks just as bad. This game shapes us as a mega-high scoring affair (on paper). Take the OVER and pay for your x-mas! For those that like parlays, red-hot PHILLY vs pathetic defense of DAL seems like a lock in the night game.

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        To compare Jeffries with Carter at anything at this point is plain crazy! He’s a big physical receiver who gets away with a ton of pushing off. Stroh is right on with his points made about Nelson. Better route runner, hands, just a better receiver. Period, end of discussion! The Packers defense was actually a top 10 defense when Rodgers went down. Sure, they have a ton of issues, but when your backup QB goes 3 & out time after time your defense gets wore out. Take Brady, Brees, Manning, any QB of Rodgers caliber off the field, and those teams would struggle just as bad. Great QB are able to cover weaknesses a team has.

  • WKUPackFan

    Knew it wouldn’t take long for the complaints about TT not drafting all those available 6’6″ WRs and 6’2″ CBs.

  • Archie

    NEWSFLASH: TT announces he will resignation as Packer GM if his defense, carefully hand-picked over the 9 year TT era of draft & develop is unable to keep CHI under 60 points in showdown game for divisional title. He is rumored to be in line for the job of ass-clown in chief for the local circus in his home town. When awakened from a deep sleep at practice on Friday, Dom Capers responded that he thought his HIPPO/MIDGET defense would respond to the occasion by playing a loose zone coverage. He even went so far as to predict a Packer victory by a score of 60-59. GOPACKGO! The Super Bowl is around the corner. In Ted We Trust! After all, he gave us McFatty and his 65 IQ. McFatty, the guy who drafted Alex Smith #1 over sure-to-be HOF Aaron Rodgers. It was McFatty who urged TT to sign Jeff Saturday in FA to replace Scott Wells. And CJ Wilson to replace Cullen Jenkins.

    There were 9 DL taken in R1 of 2013 draft. Seven have already proven they have great careers ahead of them. The other two have shown little to date. Who are they?

    (1) #24 – Bjoern Werner, Colts
    (2) #26 – Datone Jones, Packers

    Sly Williams was taken 28th by Denver and is playing like a man among boys.

    That ass-clown Thompson can pick’em, can’t he? Will Jones even play on Sunday? Tough to say as his snaps have been rapidly diminishing of late, in favor of a DL taken in the 5th round. Does this means Jones is a bust? We can’t tell for sure yet but early returns put him at the back of the class compared to his fellow 1st Rd DL picks. If Jones follows in the shoes of other TT Rd 1 defensive picks: Nick Perry, Mike Neal, BJ Raji, Justin Harrell; and, AJ Hawk – you would hope for the love of God that somebody would fire this ass-clown. CMIII and Nick Collins, his only two good draft picks in 9 years of drafting from the defensive side. In Ted We Trust. 60-59!

    • Stroh

      Sly Williams has 2 sacks and 15 tackles! Jones has 3.5 sacks on a lot fewer snaps. Why the hell don’t you bother to tell the F’in truth for a change! Archie Owned Again!!!

    • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

      Archie I have a lot of issues with TT. His drafts from 2010 to 2012 speak for my issues, hell 11 of the 18 players drafted from 2011 and 12 aren’t even on the team anymore. But you need to check your stats before you compare Williams to Jones and call him a man among boys. He has 11 tackles and 2 sacks! THAT’S ALL! On what planet is that considered a man among boys! Datone Jones was the absolute best pick available for the Packers. The other day you questioned why the Packers didn’t take Sheldon Richardson instead of Jones. Why? Because Richardson was the 13th overall pick, taken 14 spots AHEAD of where the Packers drafted. He also plays on a defensive line with Wilkerson and Coples, both #1 picks. The Perry pick I’ve questioned, same with Harrell and Neal. But EVERY GM would have taken Hawk and Raji at those spots. Jones has actually played well in a limited role. Next season you’ll see why he was picked. The 2013 is the one draft in the last 4 you can’t bag on TT about. One question, WHAT THE F IS A ASS-CLOWN?

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        One more thing Archie, the Packers don’t win SB45 without B.J. Raji. Say what you want about him now, but his first 3 years he was pretty damn good. If anything be happy he didn’t sign for 8 million and suck all that cap space up!

  • Tarynfor12

    This game Sunday means more than achieving a playoff spot,it’s a game where certain players who been bravado’ed during the season more so under false showings with emphasis on being hurt/injured as the underlined reason/excuse than actual real play.

    Like the infamous line from Kevin Greene to CM3 “It is time”,this very sense needs to be seen and accomplished from those who been boasted about and defended more…Nick Perry and Mike Neal.

    I have been told that Perry needs to be the ROLB as his pass rush is 10 fold the effect when the LOLB because of responsibilities.Fine.If he has what it takes,regardless of a hurt foot,’it is time’ for players of such expectations to produce in the big boy game..period.

    The pass rush is the most vital aspect for a victory vs the Bears.Marshall and Jeffery will devour us if Cutler is allowed the time.

    This is the win or go home weeks and I hope diaper service has been suspended for those who need to prove they’ve grown up.

    I will be able to accept defeat on Sunday but I won’t accept excuses for bad play from those who have been awarded sanctuary all too often already.

    A victory would be great but a very well played effort by those would not be diminished in a losing effort as here will lie more truth for the future with them.

    GO PACK GO !!!

  • http://GV889@aol.com Jerry

    Off topic here but can anyone estimate how much money one playoff game means to the City of Green Bay’s economy?

    • Bearmeat

      Over 50 millions a weekend.

  • Johnblood27

    OK Pack fans, time to get realistic.

    With the return of AR and the very possible participation of Cobb and Lacy alongside the maturation of Quarless the offense is as good as it can get for this season at this time of year.

    On the defensive side, “it is time” to take stock and look realistically at where the hell we are.

    House needs to step in and step up this week and into the playoffs. We need a bigger press corner who can support the run defense starting RIGHT NOW. House needs to be that guy or be let go.

    Move TWilliams into the slot and put Shields on an island. These moves along with the complete replacement of MDJennings with Micah Hyde alongside Burnett should shore up the backfield. Richardson is first off the bench for dime duty.

    Time for a KGreene pep talk to Neal and Perry. I dont care who plays which side, just get the damn job done! No more coddling, these boys need to become MEN and I mean NOW!

    I am losing my patience with this group of over-rated TT draftees, this better work or I am tipping over into the throw out the baby, bathwater and basinet after this season!

    MM, DC, TT and MMurphy can all go take a walk off a pier if they continue to sleepwalk with no signs of consciousness and exhibiting a clear WILL TO WIN!

    IT IS TIME!!!

    • Bearmeat

      All great ideas. For next year. This year it’ll be the same as it has been before Sunday.

      Just gotta hope the interior DL plays up to scratch and the ILB/S aren’t too exposed. Odds are against it.

      • Since ’61

        Since House has only played one snap in the last 3 games I would not expect him to see much action against the Bears. We’re more likely to see Hyde, Bush, Richardson and Banjo rotating along with Jennings. Although I’d be fine if Jennings were benched. Neal and Perry will be tested laterally by Forte on passes to the flats. Neal needs to pick it up quite a bit in my opinion. MM, TT and the rest can have all the will to win that you want, but it’s the players who need to go out on the field and execute and make it happen. Thanks, Since ’61

        • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

          BINGO SINCE 61! Bench Jennings. I mean how much more d they need to see. If there’s any doubt about Jennings horrible play, go back and watch the film of the Dallas and Pittsburgh game. He was pathetic!

  • Big O

    Gentlemen, if Cutler is taking a lesson on what the icy grass at soldier field looks like from very close up on a regular basis we should far well no mater who the receivers are!!! Come on GO PACK!!!

  • Since ’61

    Getting pressure in Cutler will be a key, but with CM3 missing the Bears will test our OLBs with passes in the flat and screens to Forte. If our CBs tighten up to cover the flat Cutler will go downfield to his big WRs. Therefore, our pressure will most likely need to come up the middle from our ILB’s. If we can get pressure Cutler will make some bad throws. On offense we come out throwing. The Bears will be expecting Lacy early. We throw, Bears back off we pound them with Lacy. We need points, TOP and solid defense. Thanks, Since ’61

  • Since ’61

    Archie – in response to your post, I understand that after TT is fired Mark Murphy will make you the GM because your hindsight for draft picks is almost 20/20. He is certain that all your picks will become NFL Hall of Famers after only 3 seasons and none of them will ever miss a block or a tackle and the skill players and returners will score TDs each time that they touch the ball. Thanks, Since ’61

    • Bearmeat

      It’s nice to know that you are coming around on how to reply to Archie Since 61. :D

      • Since ’61

        Thanks Bearmeat! I’m going with the subtle diplomatic approach. However, I’m certain that it won’t matter. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

        • Bearmeat

          It’s better just to ignore him. That’s what I’ve done since the “Ass-clown” fiasco a couple weeks ago and it’s made me a much happier reader.

  • larry valdes

    Ilove the idea of replesing Jennings with hyde let perry play rol and neal lol .

  • Alex Parkhurst

    Fox Channel Sunday – tomorrow – at least on my online guide:

    1st Game:

    1) Carolina 11-4 @ Atlanta 4-11

    followed by 2nd game

    2)St Louis 7-8 @ Seattle 12-3

    If you were running Fox and wanted to sell advertising or however networks make money wouldn’t you run the Packer vs the Bears?

    Night game is Dallas vs Philly and that makes sense.

    There might be contractual obligations but whoever set up this lack of flexibility is a ______________.

    Fill in the blank

    • http://GV889@aol.com Jerry

      I hope Joe Buck is not working the Packers Bear game… That guy is so annoying!

      • http://allpackers.com Nick Perry

        Unfortunately I think they will be but I’m with you. Buck’s annoying and Aikmans dislike for Green Bay is obvious.

  • WKUPackFan

    A lifetime of out of market viewing has been a bummer. In the mid 80s my Dad splurged for one of the old time huge satellite dishes. It was great because there were game feeds without commercials where you could listen to the announcers off camera. The best ever was in the late 80s when the Packers needed a loss by some team in the last MNF game to make the playoffs. ABC had a camera in one of the Packers player’s homes where a bunch of players were watching the game. One of the feeds showed this camera the whole night (without sound). It was hilarious to watch the guys hide their beers under the couch when the signal came they were going live. The Majik Man was leading the group if I recall correctly.