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Packers TE Jermichael Finley a real pain split wide

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Updated: October 15, 2012 9:42AM

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli didn’t want to take anything away from Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw eight touchdown passes against the Bears last season.

“The biggest thing from last year, though, was execution,’’ Marinelli said.

In the case of the Bears’ defense, their lack of it.

Throw the five-touchdown game by Rodgers in Week 16 out the window. That was just poor coaching by Lovie Smith for leaving then-cornerback Zack Bowman on an island and watching Rodgers throw slant after slant to different receivers.

In discussing the film from 2011 with Marinelli, it’s the Week 3 loss that showed just how the Packers have found success in attacking the Bears’ cover-2 lately, using tight end Jermichael Finley as their executioner.

At 6-5, 247 pounds with wide receiver speed, Finley scored four of those eight touchdowns against the Bears last season, and on three of those touchdowns, Finley was split wide.

Finley opens windows for Rodgers in the cover-2 because he is such a mismatch.

The Bears tried covering him with a safety, a linebacker and, on this chalkboard play, cornerback Tim Jennings.

By spreading out the Bears, the Packers got the nickel look they wanted. Finley (Y) was split wide right while Jordy Nelson (Z) was slot right. Lance Briggs was over Nelson, but the Packers then put halfback James Starks (R) in motion to the right, forcing Briggs to cheat over toward the bunch formation. That also pulled Brian Urlacher (Mike) toward that side to shadow Nelson.

On the snap, Starks ran a route into the right flat, which Briggs had to try to jump. But it also made Jennings hesitate to his left. Nelson occupied Urlacher with a curl and caught the eye of the safety, who was Craig Steltz in that game.

Finley used Jennings’ momentum against him, shoved him to the outside and, with Steltz slow to get over the top because of Nelson’s route, the window to Finley was wide open.

“Each year you do things differently here and there, and it’s about subtlety,’’ Marinelli said about some new looks for Rodgers on Thursday night. “Not so much a whole new wrinkle. Subtlety.’’

It better start with extra help on Finley.

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