The Green Bay Packers’ young talent looked like it could be something special the past few seasons – now, they’re arguably the NFL’s best.
The Packers utterly demolished the Chicago Bears, 38-20, in a contest that wasn’t even as close as the three-possession lead in the final score could possibly suggest. If you asked a Packers fan to name their best-case scenario for Sunday’s game before it happened, I’m not sure most could have dreamed of the blowout we had the pleasure of witnessing, or the promise that nearly every unit on the team showed.
The Packers are now 9-0 under Matt LaFleur against the Bears, but there are so many other reasons why this win feels extra special. Bears quarterback Justin Fields entering his third season with a new coach and revamped roster while the Jordan Love era was officially beginning in Green Bay sparked heated banter throughout the summer. In what Chicago hoped would be an announcement of themselves as a threat in the division became a realization that some things never change.
Love and the Packers didn’t just squeak out a win, they did it in dominant fashion without their number one receiver Christian Watson. They did it in Soldier Field. They did it while getting better and better as the game went on. Jordan Love was in full control of the offense and looked fearless in the face of pressure. Green Bay did it all while trotting out the youngest roster in the NFL.
Though Love deserves tons of credit for his great performance that exceeded expectations, those expectations existed for a reason. A talented first-round quarterback should be able to perform adequately in an offensive system he’s practiced for years behind a Hall-of-Famer. What’s most impressive is how well so many other of the Packers’ young players performed, including the immediate impact from their rookie class.
First-round pick Lukas Van Ness played just 35 snaps but recorded 5 pressures, tied for second most on the Green Bay defense Sunday. Van Ness showcased his athleticism when he took a perfect angle on Fields and tracked down the speedy quarterback with a strong tackle. 2022 first-rounder Devonte Wyatt, who didn’t get much playing time last season, was all over the field and led the team with 6 pressures. Wyatt added 1.5 sacks and 2 tackles for loss, both leading the defense.
Luke Musgrave, the second-round tight end, caught 3 balls for 50 yards. He caught a 37-yard bomb from Love that should have been a walk-in touchdown had he stayed on his feet. Still, Musgrave looked as advertised – he’s the most explosive tight end Green Bay has had in a long time.
Second-round pick Jayden Reed played exactly the role I expected him to in this offense and looked good doing it. Even with Watson out, Reed played most of his snaps from the slot, catching 2 passes for 48 yards. Reed’s 30-yard catch on a 3rd and 10 was the start of a snowballing Packers onslaught.
Rookies Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks combined for 7 pressures and a sack. Rookie kicker Anders Carlson got mixed reviews from camp and preseason all summer – he’d boot a 60+-yarder no problem and then miss another from 25 yards out. Against the Bears, Carlson nailed a 52-yarder and went 5/5 on extra point attempts.
Second-year offensive lineman Zach Tom quickly looked special last season and looks to take an even greater jump this season. He can play all over the line but appears firmly settled at right tackle for now. A former fourth-round pick, the Packers found gold in Tom, who I believe could be an All-Pro sooner than later. The 24-year-old is consistently excellent and a crucial, versatile piece to an excellent Packers offensive line that allowed just 2 pressures against Chicago.
Quay Walker, the 23-year-old linebacker, had one of the greatest interceptions returned for a touchdown you’ll ever see against the Bears. If Walker can stay healthy, he has a good chance to build on what was a solid rookie season.
The future looks really, really bright in Green Bay. I’m so excited to watch this young team develop and grow together, especially after what was such an explosive start to the Jordan Love era. This team will be dangerous very soon.——————