Man, Sunday’s kind of stink when there’s no Green Bay Packers game, don’t they?
Well, fear not – we’ve got Packers football tonight. Green Bay heads into Soldier Spaceship – er, Soldier Field – for a Monday Night contest with the Chicago Bears (7:30 p.m. Lambeau Time).
In this matchup of 2-0 teams, who has the edge in the position battles? Let’s take a look now. This is part one; part two will run Monday morning.
Quarterback - It’s been an up-and-down first two games for everyone’s preseason MVP, Aaron Rodgers. By my count, he’s played four really good quarters, three bad quarters and one decent quarter. That’s not to say he’s been terrible, just that he hasn’t been flawless. Jay Cutler has been the Cutler that Bears fans thought they were getting a year ago so far, throwing five touchdowns against just one pick. Mike Martz’s system appears to be suiting him just fine, though it is just two games. Edge: Packers
Running backs - One game into the Brandon Jackson-John Kuhn experiment, things aren’t looking so great. While it shouldn’t hurt the Packers too much, long-term, you have to wonder how the offense will hold up in a game where Rodgers struggles. Matt Forte hasn’t done much better on the ground (2.9 yards per carry), but he is bringing great value in the passing game (12 catches, 188 yards, three scores). He’ll act as Martz’s Marshall Faulk in this offense. Packers fans know Chester Taylor from his Vikings’ days as an outstanding pass-catcher and very good pass protector. Look for him to get involved more than a few times in this one. Edge: Bears
Wide Receivers - Things are going pretty much as expected for Green Bay’s highly touted receiving corps, although you have to wonder why the team is dead-set on making James Jones such a factor. Note to broadcasters: He is not a No. 1 receiver for any team in the league and is only a two for about one-third of the teams. No clear No. 1 has emerged for the Bears yet, but the group of Johnny Knox, Devin Hester and Devin Aromashodu is young with plenty of upside. Upside doesn’t win the day here. Edge: Packers
Tight ends - While he has not set the league on fire, as many expected, Jermichael Finley has still turned in two very good games. Last week, we saw what happens when teams decide to single-cover him. Not sure if we’ll see much of that again. Donald Lee has not been a factor at all and Tom Crabtree is a blocker. Much has been written about how Martz does not like to use the tight ends in the passing game. So far, that seems correct as Greg Olsen has just five catches for 76 yards (and a score). Olsen is very talented, though, and should not be overlooked. At 295 pounds, Brandon Manumaleuna is primarily a blocker and will stay in to help cover Cutler. Edge: Packers
Offensive line - Green Bay’s offensive line has been decent so far, but Rodgers has faced more pressure than you’d prefer . The group needs to reach another level. Chad Clifton (knee) is a game-time decision; if he can’t go, in steps rookie Bryan Bulaga. Either way, Chicago will attack that side of the field. The Bears’ front five hasn’t been great, either, and will be going with a pair of guys, Frank Omiyale (left tackle) and Kevin Shaffer (right tackle), playing out of position due to injuries. If the Bears think they can get away with all those five-and-seven-step drops behind this group, they’re nuts. Edge: Packers
So far, the Packers hold the edge in four of five categories. How will things shake out in part two? Again, check back Monday morning to find out.