LAKE FOREST, Ill. — With a clash against the Green Bay Packers on deck, Chicago Bears veteran defensive end Jared Allen finds himself offering up numerous tips in the team’s meeting rooms for how to stop quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Outside of Lance Briggs (21 games played against Green Bay), Allen’s 13 starts against the Packers is the most among his teammates. In those games, Allen racked up 16 sacks, 47 tackles, an interception, a forced fumble and a recovery.
So what does it take to achieve success against Rodgers?[+] Enlarge“A lot of things,” Allen said. “We’re going to have to do a good job on the receivers. I think it starts there. But it always starts with the run game. This isn’t a game you want the quarterback to necessarily beat you. But you do have to force them to be one-dimensional. You can’t allow them to be in third-and-short. We’ve got to be able to force him into longer down and distances to where he has to throw the ball downfield, where they have to spread out. We’ve got to do a good job of getting him off his spot, and forcing him to run where we want.
“Then you’ve just got to know Aaron. You’ve got to study him and know what he likes to do. He will give you shots to get to him because he has the ability to go down the field at any given time, and he’ll take those shots on you. So you’ve got to keep rushing. You can’t get tired of three-step [drop], three-step, ball out, ball out, ball out, ball out, ball out, and then all of a sudden, he sits back there for five seconds and pats the ball and really torches you. So it’s just a game you’ve got to play of continually trying to beat that guy in front of you, whether it’s flashing in front of Aaron or disrupting him if we can. If you let him sit back there, pat the ball and get it out, it’ll be a long day.”
The Bears certainly know that. Having run up a 10-3 record against Chicago, Rodgers has thrown 25 touchdown passes to eight interceptions against the Bears with a passer rating of 105.0.
According to STATS LLC, Rodgers has completed 39 of 59 passes for 592 yards with eight touchdowns, an interception and a league-high passer rating of 131.5 this season against the blitz.
“Goodness, he’s one of the best,” Allen said. “I’ll bet when his career is over, he’ll be up there with the all-time greats. It’s one of those things when he gets into that rhythm, it’s a scary thing to be on the other side of the ball. You’ve got to continue to go, go, go, go whether it’s batting balls down, whatever it is, you’ve got to find ways to create negative yardage plays to force them to have to go a great distance. You try to take knowledge and notes of what you’ve played against him. Now over the years I know he has a vicious hard count. The ball is out quick. You’ve got to get that feel for when he’s going to get rid of the ball and try to get your hands up.”
Allen describes the success he’s experienced against Rodgers a “continual grind,” and said the defense has to be committed to that type of approach to prevent the quarterback from catching fire.
“You have to grind, grind, grind, grind, grind, and eventually when he holds the ball … I try to tell the guys you can’t get into a habit of [thinking], ‘It’s going to be another quick ball,’ because like I said, he’ll give you those chances to get there,” Allen said. “But you have to continue to pass rush. You can’t get discouraged that it might be the second quarter, third quarter. When you do get an opportunity, you have to capitalize on negative plays. You have to be stout in the run game, and force them into second-and-12 or third-and-8-plus. And then now you know he’s going to go down the field with the ball. Now you know you’re going to have a second chance. You’re going to have some one-on-ones up front and you’ve got to take advantage of the opportunities when you get them. Thank God I’ve been able to do that more times than not.”