Behind Enemy Lines: Part II

Our Scout.com experts, Bill Huber of Packer Report and John Crist of Bear Report, go Behind Enemy Lines to take a closer look at Sunday's Week 11 matchup between the Packers and rival Bears at Lambeau Field. Let's continue this three-part series with five question from John to Bill.

John Crist: It's already Week 11, so I know you've been asked a million times how Aaron Rodgers has looked replacing Brett Favre thus far. But I want to go a step further. How has the offense changed with Rodgers at the controls as opposed to Favre? More rollouts? Fewer deep balls? What's the difference?

Bill Huber: There have been very few changes. Certainly, Favre threw more deep balls, but some of that is Favre's caution-to-the-wind style and some of it is Rodgers' shoulder injury. The offense seems more conservative with Rodgers, but again, some of that is the shoulder and some of that is Rodgers' unwillingness to take chances. Favre's career low in interceptions is 13. Rodgers is on pace to throw nine.

While Rodgers is a better athlete than Favre, rollouts haven't become a bigger part of the offense. Defenses have worked hard to take away that phase of Rodgers' game.

JC: Greg Jennings has turned into a beast and perhaps one of the premier wideouts in the league already. Donald Driver, on the other hand, has taken somewhat of a backseat. There doesn't appear to be much friction within the receiving corps, so how did the transition between the two go so smoothly?


WR Greg Jennings
Al Messerschmidt/Getty

BH: Because there's no reason for friction. Whoever is open gets the ball. Early in the season, it was Jennings. Lately, with opponents focusing on Jennings, it's been Driver. Jennings has 43 catches, while Driver has 41. Driver has a 22-14 edge in the last four games. The receivers are the best of friends. Jennings, Driver, Ruvell Martin and James Jones play cards every day and crack jokes at practice. When you're friends, everything is easier.

It helps that Driver isn't a prima donna like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss or Chad Johnson. Driver just wants to win games.

JC: Even though Ryan Grant was one of the most productive backs in the NFL the second half of last year, he's had trouble carrying that momentum from 2007 to 2008. I know the holdout and the hamstring didn't help, but is there more to the story at all? Is there enough film out there to contain him now?

BH: No, Grant hasn't been the explosive threat he was last year, but he's still on pace to top 1,100 yards. He's been better the last five games, with 439 yards. Extrapolate that 89 yards per game, and that equates to 1,400 yards over a full 16-game schedule.

He's had a bunch of 10- and 12-yard gains the last couple of weeks. Now, it's time for Grant to make that last defender miss and pop a big run.

JC: The Packers have had all kinds of problems defending the run this season, and it won't get any easier now that Nick Barnett is gone with a knee injury. Does he have an immediate replacement in the middle? Will there be some reshuffling in the starting lineup? Either way, how big of a loss is this for the D?


LB Brandon Chillar
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

BH: It looks like A.J. Hawk will start in place of Barnett, with Brandon Chillar filling in for Hawk on the weak side and Brady Poppinga retaining his spot on the strong side. With that, the Packers will get their three best healthy linebackers on the field. In theory, it's a big loss for the defense. Barnett is a two-time Pro Bowl alternate, the emotional leader of the defense and the team's leading tackler. But with the NFL's 28th-ranked run defense – No. 30 in terms of yards allowed per carry – how much worse can it be?

The impact might be greatest in the passing game, where Hawk has been a liability matching up against backs, and rookie Matt Forte is a quality receiver.

JC: Green Bay has been a team of streaks so far: starting the season with two wins, then three losses, then two wins, and now two losses yet again. Are these wins and losses having some sort of carryover effect from week to week? Have their successes and failures simply come in bunches? What gives?

BH: Packers fans better hope there's no carryover, or else the season will end on Sunday. I don't think carryover was an issue last week. I think the Packers came out of their loss to Tennessee kicking themselves that they lost but feeling good about how they almost knocked off the NFL's final undefeated team. One reason for the two- and three-game losing streaks is the schedule. Seven of their nine opponents have winning records, and they're 2-5 in those games.

The common thread is the run defense, or lack thereof. That bodes poorly with Chicago (twice), Carolina and Jacksonville standing between the Packers and the playoffs.

Be on the lookout for Part III of this three-part series on Friday. To back and read Part I, where John answers five questions from Bill, Click Here.

Bill Huber is the Lead Analyst for Packer Report. John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report.


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