Thursday night the Green Bay Packers entered a hostile environment, against division rival, with a brand new head coach in Matt LaFleur. Needless to say, this wasn’t going to be an easy game for them to win.
Yet they did. Even with the offense sputtering for much of the game, the Packers were able to rely heavily on their defense and special teams unit to come away with the 10-3 victory.
We saw some fantastic performances but also realized that this team has plenty to work on as well if they hope to return to their winning ways. So based on what we saw, here are my five big takeaways from Green Bay’s win against the Chicago Bears.
How about that defense?
What a dominating performance it was for the Green Bay Packers’ defense. They would hold the Bears to just 254 total yards, including just 46 on the ground, and Chicago was only 3-15 on third-down conversions. The Packers would also add an interception and five sacks totaling 20 yards.
Even when the Packers’ offense put them in a difficult spot early on by allowing the Bears to start near mid-field on multiple possessions, the defensive unit held tough and only allowed a field goal. And really for the entire game, the Bears never posed a real threat of even scoring a touchdown.
With a new offense in the works and a number of difficult defenses on the schedule early on, the Packers will need to lean on their defense in the upcoming weeks to keep the games close.
Special teams was fantastic
The defense and the special teams units were the reasons that the Green Bay Packers won Thursday night. I know, very weird to say, isn’t it?
It was J.K. Scott who stood out the most and for good reason. On nine punts he would average 47.6 yards per punt and booted a 63 yarder to pin Chicago deep in their own territory on what would be their final drive of the game. If we were handing out game balls, Scott absolutely deserves one as they couldn’t have won this game without him.
We also have to mention the coverage unit as they played phenomenally as well. They got down the field very quickly, were in very good positions, tackled well, and didn’t give up any big returns.
The Offense needs work
As I alluded to above, a new offense, with a first-year head coach, on the road, against a very good defense, and with no preseason reps. Of course they were going to struggle, however, I wouldn’t have guessed that it would have been this much.
Aaron Rodgers was clearly rusty as he missed a few easy throws early on and at times he continued to hang on to the ball far too long. The running game couldn’t get going whatsoever and as a team, the Packers were just 2-12 on third-down conversions while only putting up 213 total yards.
After the game, both Rodgers and LaFleur said that they each need to be better and that goes for everyone on this offense as well.
The free agent signings impressed
To revamp this defense during the offseason, GM Brian Gutekunst brought in three, high-profile free agents on the defensive side of the ball in Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Adrian Amos. And I’m really not sure that their debuts with the Packers could have gone any better.
Z. Smith and P. Smith both lived in the backfield as between the two pass rushers they would total eight tackles, two tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, along with a P. Smith batted ball. Whenever Mitch Trubisky dropped back, he had pressure to deal with and oftentimes it was one of the Smiths.
Then we have Amos who was everything that he was advertised to be. Amos was reliable, always in the correct position, and he didn’t give up the big play. Sounds simple but this has been lacking at the safety position in recent years. Amos even came away with an interception at the end of the game that had to feel just incredible for him against his former team.
Tight ends in this offense
Under former head coach Mike McCarthy the tight end in the passing game was a bit of an afterthought. However, under LaFleur it was expected that the tight end position would play a much bigger role in the offense and based on last night’s game, they sure do.
First off, it was nice to see Marcedes Lewis out there as a blocker and he even came away with a few catches in the passing game. As far as Jimmy Graham goes, this season looks it could be a bounce-back season for him as he had 30 yards, a touchdown catch and he drew a big pass interference penalty. Even Robert Tonyan got in on the action.
Combined the three tight ends would total six receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown catch. This gives Rodgers some additional weapons on the field that he didn’t consistently have a season ago.
Overall there is plenty to be excited about with this Green Bay Packers team. They leave Soldier Field 1-0 and the offense will be better. With that said, the rest of the NFL should be on notice because if Rodgers plays as we know he can and has that defense behind him, good luck.