|ESPN.com: NFL Playoffs 2010||[Print without images]|
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman assessed the prowess of Green Bay's receiving corps with the highest praise.
"I would say this receiving corps is the best in the NFL," Tillman said. "Their ability to get a lot of yards after the catch [makes them the best]. They run hard. They make the difficult catch. They block well down the field."
Finding a way to neutralize the lethal targets of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers ranks as priority No. 1 for the Bears going into Sunday's NFC title game at Soldier Field. It won't be easy.
Led by leading receiver Greg Jennings, the Packers' group of targets, which includes Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson, torched the Atlanta Falcons for a combined 26 catches and 331 yards, accounting for 75.1 percent of the team's offensive production in a 48-21 thumping this past Saturday.
Making the challenge of covering them more difficult is the ability of each receiver to play every position. So once the Packers figure out how the Bears are defending them, the team can easily move players to different positions in the huddle to find the most advantageous matchups.
That's exactly what the Packers did against the Falcons when Driver and Jones switched positions to exploit the ideal matchup on Jones' 20-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
"When I got in the huddle, I was trying to figure out who was where because of the different personnel we were in, and Donald said, 'Hey, just take my position or whatever; we'll make it work,'" Rodgers said. "So a situation like that to be able to drive down, and then for Donald to make that unselfish decision there and for James [Jones] to make a hell of a catch, that put us up seven.
"I think it's important when you're trying to get the ball to different guys so you can move everybody around, knowing that each person can play in different spots. Some plays we draw up for Greg [Jennings], some plays for Donald [Driver], some plays for James [Jones], Jordy [Nelson], etc. You have to be able to move those guys around, move Greg inside, give them a different look. If they want to play some man coverage, we want to be able to give Greg a different defender at different times -- give Donald a different guy to match up against -- and hope you can find the best matchup within those big five sets."
That's part of why Tillman considers the Packers' receiving corps the NFL's best. But in two games against the Bears, the group hasn't made a significant impact. The foursome combined for 19 catches, 154 yards and only one touchdown in the Week 3 matchup. That output accounted for 40.6 percent of the team's total offensive yardage.
The group produced 12 catches for 185 yards and no touchdowns in a 10-3 victory over the Bears in Week 17.
"Their receivers are good after the catch. That's one thing that sticks out," Bears linebacker Lance Briggs said. "[I'm] real familiar with all these guys. Once they get the ball is probably when they are most dangerous. They don't like to go down. They're like running backs. They take a lot of punishment and try to give out punishment. So I think that is kind of fitting for us because we like to punish, too."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com and ESPN 1000.