What a win last night: on the road, in a hostile environment, implementing a new offense, a ton of new defensive players, a first time head coach, going up against your rival who was 12-4 last year and has one of the best defenses in the league. The Packers won a defensive battle 10-3 and it was so satisfying to watch. I can’t remember the last time I saw the Packers win a game because of how their defense played from the first quarter, all the way through the fourth quarter.
Let’s start with the offense, it was obviously painful to watch and I’ll attribute that to a few things. First off, I’ve said it a ton of times but its a new offense they are implementing and even with Aaron Rodgers at QB there is going to be some growing pains. Secondly, people hate the preseason but I thought the starters not getting anytime together during the preseason showed. I understand joint practices are good and all but they don’t give you that in game feel with a crowd around you, making adjustments, getting the plays in, and executing them. Third, early on in any season offenses will usually struggle. Obviously there are exceptions and I’m thinking about the Packers/Saints opener in 2011 but both those defenses proved to be pretty terrible that year. Lastly, give the Bears defense a ton of credit because they are fucking good. The Packers will not be the last time team this year they hold to 10 points or less. Their defense at the start of the game reminded me of when Green Bay went into Seattle for the opener after the Seahawks won the Super Bowl. They were fired up, consistently beating the Packers in 1 on 1’s, getting a ton of pressure on Rodgers, and when it looked like there was a hole to run though that defense closed it up very quickly.
Nobody on offense had a good game for the Packers really. I would say the OL held up pretty good after the 1st quarter considering the DL they had to block all night. Adams and MVS did what they could with the targets the got, and obviously Jimmy Graham had the TD catch with two others for 30 yards. Overall the passing game did what it could.
What I did notice was still some things on offense that carried over from 2018 which make me bang my fucking head on the hardwood floor. First off, Rodgers first throw he didn’t step into at all something we saw too much of last year. He was pretty good for the rest of the game but please cut that shit out. Second and more importantly, I don’t get how the Packers can’t get a 3rd down play call in. The Bears were jumping the snap all the time on 3rd down because the Packers don’t get the play call in quick enough, and then Rodgers tries to adjust things. Please, snap the ball with like 5 seconds left. I get Rodgers wants to figure the defense out and get the Packers in the best position to win that down, but the defense knows when the fucking snap is coming. Rodgers did address this during the post-game press conference thankfully.
I also noticed Rodgers passed out of a lot of called run plays last night. The majority of them were great decisions in part because the WR, mostly Adams, was wide open and the Bears defense was stopping the run. The one I didn’t like was the final 4th quarter drive on 2nd and 5. Rodgers tried the same thing and threw a pass to MVS he dropped. Not that I don’t like Rodgers doing that, but I would have like him throw that to Adams or GMO instead of MVS. Just run the ball on 2nd down and hopefully you get a few more yards, and then 3rd down you can open things up and make the defense think about the run or pass. Also if you didn’t see it, the video below of Adams counting the guys guarding him is gold.
To the run game. Wasn’t good, especially early. What I did like was Aaron Jones getting 13 carries to Williams 5. Jones is clearly the better back and was more effective in getting what he could against the Bears defense. In the second half he did have some nice chunk and against other defenses, Jones is going to have better than a 3.0 YPC AVG. Early on the OL was getting manhandled but they did settle in and open up some nice holes, but the Bears LBs were just too good and closed them quickly. Hopefully it gets more effective because the next four games are not going to be easy either against the Vikings, Broncos, Eagles, and Cowboys.
Finally let’s talk play calling and scheme. On those chunk runs by Jones you really saw what LaFleur wants to do in that zone scheme. Block to the left or right, and let Jones find that cut back lane and really hit the hole hard. Passing wise the big pass to MVS that led to the TD looked straight out of the Rams playbook. Fake the run, fake the WR sweep, give the QB some good time in the pocket to throw the deep ball, it was a thing of beauty.
Let’s get to this fucking defense. I loved what I saw out of this defense last night. Everything Brian Gutekunst has done the past two years has paid off. Bringing back Tramon Williams last year, signing Adrian Amos, Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith this year. Drafting Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage Jr., Jaire Alexander, Josh Jackson, finding Tony Brown as an UDFA, and finding another FA in Raven Greene. All those guys played well last night in what little time some of them did.
Let’s start with the pass rush which was excellent. Packers had 5 sacks on the night, 1 from Blake Martinez, Kevin King, and Za’Darius Smith. Kenny Clark and .5 sack and Preston Smith had 1.5 sacks. Not only that but Next Gen Stats on Twitter had this little tid bit for us folks:
Just fucking beautiful. 9 pressures in two games and the Packers got 10 more in one night. When the Packers signed the Smith bros that is exactly what they envisioned and it turned true.
Quick note on Kenny Clark, he is an animal inside. I hope he starts getting the recognition he deserves league wide because he is one of the best DT’s in the league. Packers let Mike Daniels go in the off-season and partly they were okay with that because they know they have a stud in Clark. He had some great plays last night in the pass and run game. Just watch him make the Bears C look like a god damn fool on this run stuff.
I also want to give a shout out to Raven Greene who bascially played LB all night because Oren Burks is out and BJ Goodson isn’t caught up yet. Greene was all over the field in the pass and run game, you never really heard his name called too much which is a good thing sometimes when you’re playing defense. He ended the game with 6 total tackles, 5 TFL, and 1 pass deflection.
Finally the pass defense. Holy shit I loved what I saw, it made me giddy watching the boys out there. Safety play was a BILLION times better than last year. Savage a few very good pass breakups and some nice tackles, Amos was obviously great and the pick to seal the win at the end of the game which was fitting as fuck. Kinda which Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had a worse game but the Bears defense is going to cover him up too many times to count this year. Last year the Packers safety play was atrocious and it was phenomenal last night.
The CBs played very well last night too. They did give up 7 catches and 102 yards to Allen Robinson but many of those catches the Packers CBs had great coverage on him. There were only a few time that Bears WRs were open by a good margin last night. Jaire Alexander had the huge pass breakup in that last drive to make it 3rd and 10 instead of 3rd and short, Kevin King played very good too getting a sack and should have had a INT that was dropped. King also didn’t get injured which is great. If King can stay healthy all year, man oh man. As much lose as Alexander gets, I think King is better by just a slim margin but I love both those fuckers. It also seems like Tony Brown has overtaken Josh Jackson on the depth chart. That or the because of Jackson missing so much time in training camp the Packers didn’t want to play him much in this one. Tramon had the penalty on a third down play but other than that we played well too. If these guys can stay healthy, the Packers are very deep in the DB department.
Finally I need to give some love to J.K. Scott. Packers don’t win last night if he’s not punting for them. He consistently flipped the field including his last BOMB of a punt that went 63 yards. Scott punted 9 times with a 47.6 average and punt 5 of them down inside the 20. Not only that, he had great hang-time and kick good direction-ally which didn’t give Tarik Cohen too many chances to get a return, and when he did give Cohen a chance the coverage team was great.
- Packers struggled with tackling in the pre-season. They had a few last night but overall the tackling was very good.
- Packers and Bears both got called for 10 penalties. There were a few questionable calls including the first one of the night called on Kenny Clark for defensive holding. That was bad. You want to see that cleared up.
- Trevor Davis, no issues on punt returns and a nice 28 yard gain. I don’t think I saw Kumerow line up at WR so it looks like Davis for now is the #4 WR for the Packers.
- Every TE played on contributed especially Mercedes Lewis. Lewis is more known for his blocking but he did have 2 catches for 14 yards and a few more targets I believe. Tonyan also had a very nice catch. All three TEs played well last night.
- Speaking of TEs, why the hell are we having Jimmy Graham trying to block Khalil Mack?
- Whatever replay guy told LaFleur to challenge that PI needs to be at the Optometrist today. I loved the shot they showed of LaFleur looking at the jumbo-tron and then just shaking his head like “what the fuck did I just challenge.” Maybe he was looking to get a free one but it obviously wasn’t egregious. It did help stall that Bears drive though, took the momentum away from them.
- J.K. Scott
- Mike Pettine
- Matt LaFleur (first win)
- The Whole Fucking Defense