The Green Bay Packers’ pass rush was one of the biggest question marks heading into the 2023 season. The team may have bolstered their roster through the draft, but there were concerns about immediate impact and whether Rashan Gary could be effective early in the season as he returns from his 2022 ACL injury.
But those concerns were quickly put to rest in Week 1, as the Packers’ pass rush was dominant in a 38-20 win over the Chicago Bears. Gary was effective in a limited return, having 7 pressures. Young players like Davante Wyatt and Lukas Van Ness led the way with sacks and multiple quarterback hits. Overall, eight different players had at least two pressures. It was truly a team affair in the Chicago backfield.
The Packers’ pass rush was particularly effective in the second half, when they sacked Bears quarterback Justin Fields and forced him into two turnovers. Fields was under constant pressure all game, and he was never able to get comfortable in the pocket.
The Packers’ pass rush was a key factor in their victory over the Bears. It helped them force turnovers, kept Fields off balance, and support the secondary. If the Packers can continue to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, they will be a very tough team to regularly score points on in 2023.
Here are three key highlights of why the Packers’ pass rush was so effective in Week 1:
- Rashan Gary took a huge step forward in his recovery. Everyone already knew that Gary was a great pass rusher, but he took his recovery to another level in Week 1. Even though he was on a limited snap count, he made each one count. The Bears were forced into double teams and he was still getting to the quarterback.
- The Packers demonstrated that they have a lot of depth at EDGE. In addition to Gary, the Packers also have Preston Smith, Kingsley Enagbare, Justin Hollins, and first round pick Lukas Van Ness. All of these players are capable of getting pressure on the quarterback, which makes it difficult for opposing offenses to game plan for the Packers’ pass rush. It also keeps all the players fresh as they rotate through the game. Even if injuries strike and someone needs to miss any time, they have pre-season darling UDFA Brenton Cox Jr on the wings.
- The Packers’ defensive line was impressively stout against the run. The Packers’ defensive line did a good job of stopping the Bears’ running game, which allowed them to focus on getting after the quarterback. This made it difficult for the Bears to establish a rhythm on offense, and it helped the Packers’ pass rush get home.
In addition to the factors mentioned above, the Packers’ pass rush also benefited from the play of their secondary. The Packers’ cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas, did a great job of covering the Bears’ receivers, which forced Fields to hold the ball longer and made him more susceptible to pressure.
Overall, the Packers front seven set the tone for the entire game. They were much more active than past units the team has fielded in recent years. This surprising development will make the Packers defense an entertaining unit to watch all season long and will have make the Packers extremely difficult to beat as the young season develops.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.