Last December, the Chicago Bears defense did the seemingly impossible: It shut down the high-powered Los Angeles Rams’ offense, throttling a crew that was averaging 35 points per game in a 15-6 Bears victory. The result not only foreshadowed the Rams’ offensive struggles during Super Bowl LIII, but it might’ve shown the rest of the league exactly how to derail the runaway train the Sean McVay/Kyle Shanahan offense seemingly was becoming last season.
“That is a challenge. We all know it,” Packers coach Matt LaFleur said of the Bears defense. “Everybody on this team knows that we've got a tremendous challenge in front of us. It's led not only by their front — their front is maybe arguably the best in football — but I just feel like they've got a complete package in all three levels."
The Bears did change defensive coordinators this offseason, with Vic Fangio leaving to become the Denver Broncos head coach and ex-Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano taking his place, so their group figures to still be feeling its way early on in the season, too. Like the Packers, the Bears withheld many of their starters and key players throughout preseason play.
At the same time, LaFleur’s version of the offensive scheme won’t be exactly the same as the Rams’ or San Francisco 49ers’ strain of it. But the fact that so many teams are mimicking that scheme in a copycat league means many defenses, including the Bears, spent the offseason figuring out ways to combat it.
“I think during the off-season, I think everybody tries to look at the things that people do good,” Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said. “Because a lot of people want to try to say, ‘Hey, why were those guys so good, what made them so successful?’ So, you’re always trying to look at that and we understand that. I think it’s one of those things sometimes you just have to try to find what’s going to come next. Everybody is going to change and adapt and we just have to be ready for anything that can show up on gameday and be ready to adjust.”