Game Notes: Packers' historic comeback win one for the ages

-- Hi, welcome to my new Monday column entitled "Game Notes." That name will probably change at some point, but that's what you get for now.

Each week, I'll choose a few topics and dive into them. Whether the Packers played on Sunday or Monday, you can look for these every morning following the game at 10 a.m. Lambeau time.

As I aforementioned (yes, I know you all know that I love that word more than I love anything ever), let's dive in.

Never fear: Aaron Rodgers is here. ... Sorta. 

We'll start with the obvious here, and that's Aaron Rodgers' knee. He suffered what is speculated to be a mild MCL sprain -- according to David Chao, a former NFL team doctor -- and there's no lingering fear of an ACL injury. Now let's just hope that doesn't end up in a similar fashion to Keanu Neal's injury Thursday night. You know, the Atlanta Falcons safety who apparently tore his ACL and continued playing and presumably aggravated said ACL tear. Now his season is over.

The Packers are facing the Minnesota Vikings this week, the same team who basically ended their season last year by breaking Rodgers' collarbone. Last year was last year, today's today, tomorrow's tomorrow, yadda yadda. You'd be fooling yourself if you said you're not the least bit concerned about the Vikings' defensive front, because it looked... well, generational on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Here's to hoping the Packers' offensive line holds up better than it did in the first half Sunday night against Khalil Mack and co.

Rodgers already confirmed that he's playing next week, almost without a hint of doubt or hesitation. That adrenaline alone could help him along in his mini-rehab process throughout the week, as he said it apparently did against the Bears last night. Adrenaline goes a long way. If the Packers offered any sort of blueprint tonight -- or in 2014 when Rodgers dealt with his calf injury -- it's that playing out of the pistol and shotgun formations could be vital factors in helping manage Rodgers along until he's 100 percent.

Hats off to Mike Pettine (there's a bald joke here somewhere).

The Bears' offense really just scored 10 points in the first half, with the other seven gift-wrapped in the form of an interception returned for a touchdown on a failed screen pass from Packers backup quarterback DeShone Kizer. Even in the second half, prior to the Bears' last drive that ended in points -- and gave them a 23-17 lead -- and their first drive of the second half, six of their last eight drives either ended in a punt, turnover on downs or a fumble.

According to Packers rookie cornerback Josh Jackson, Mike Pettine's defense didn't really run anything too complicated at any point during the game. It still presumably wasn't a 'vanilla' approach like it was during the preseason. But there were a few instances where the Packers mixed up their coverage with certain schematic changes. On the Bears' last possession, Pettine practically threw the entire kitchen sink at Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, forcing him to throw an incompletion and bring up the first of two fourth-down situations on that game-ending drive.

The Bears were also one-for-four in the red zone. So there's that. One of the most impressive things about this is that Pettine had the success that he did with just three safeties; both Josh Jones and Raven Greene were inactive.

The Packers need edge help.

Clay Matthews' season didn't start the way a lot of people, probably even including him, were hoping. He didn't look slow or anything, he just struggled coming off the edge and seemed out-matched at times against Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. There was an obvious lack of explosiveness. Don't even get me started on the missed tackles, but to be fair, that's a knock on the entire defense as a whole.

The Packers lost out on the Khalil Mack sweepstakes, they didn't draft Harold Landry and they released Vince Biegel. It's Matthews, Nick Perry, Reggie Gilbert and Kyler Fackrell. It's important to note here that Gilbert was covering Bears do-it-all running back Tarik Cohen out of the backfield, which was equally as impressive as the game Perry had. But those two can't do it alone. 

The Packers didn't sign Ahmad Brooks as a source of veteran help until a day after final roster cut-downs, which, in the present day, was a week ago. There's still some reliable names on the market that the Packers could invest in, or they could even trade for someone.

I get the whole concept of Pettine being able to scheme up pressure in a multitude of different facets, and yes, undrafted middle linebacker James Crawford can also rush the passer on the outside. But is that really more ideal of a situation than targeting a veteran street free agent?

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Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Comments (42)

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zoellner25's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:16 am

The offense in the first half was an absolute disaster, that's on MM in my opinion. And CM3 needs to move inside and Gilbert should play OLB full time.

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Razer's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:27 am

...that's on MM...

We had a year to self scout and revamp this offense and MM pulled out the tried and true 5 seconds in the pocket, vertical passing game. Next we'll be talking about our WR's inability to get separation.

Agree with all you said.

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Qoojo's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:33 am

I really hated when MM went empty backfield while it was clear that McCray was having some issues in pass protection. Basically, he told the whole defensive line to rush as fast and as hard as they can. I really think MM loses his job years ago on any other team that does not include a QB like Rodgers.

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Tundraboy's picture

September 10, 2018 at 09:12 pm

And with no TE help. Aargh. The man drives me crazy.

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Razer's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:23 am

The best thing that can be said about last night is "Aaron Rodgers". He is this team. He rose above an outdated, offensive play calling gameplan to pull this out of the fire. If it isn't for Rodger's ability to extend plays and improvise, we would all be crying in our beer.

We are two years away on defense.

Very thankful that Rodgers came out of the tunnel to start the second half. Hope he can play effectively going forward.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:38 am

"We are two years away on defense."

I agree that the D should improve over the next two years, but I think it will be faster than that. Our young corners are already pleasantly surprising me and I noticed a real uptick in speed overall. Quite a few times I was yelling at the TV wondering how we could leave guys so open, only to see a missile shoot in to make the tackle.

CM was terrible, but mostly because of missed tackles. Often he was in the right position to make the play, he just didn't. I don't believe he'll be here 2 years from now, but he should be serviceable this year with a few flashy plays thrown in.

This year we improve quickly and end up around 12th. Next year we add one or two edge rushers with our ones. By mid next year we will be a top 8 D.

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Razer's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:24 pm

Doug - I wish I had your optimism. I too like the young CBs and think they will become a strength. Our DLine is good - not great, but thin on depth. We are one injury away or a one year contract away from becoming average in the trenches. Beyond that, we have big gaps with our linebackers both inside and outside. Pass rush and run stopping from these linebackers needs to improve significantly. And for my money our safeties are weak.

I am not sure that the talent exists on the roster to improve these areas enough. We need a great draft next year and some keen free agent additions to turn this into a top 10 defense.

The Minnesota game should be a good measure on the potential of this defense. I am hoping...

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Since'61's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:25 am

It was clear that Pettine did not have much confidence in the LB corps since he played 6 or 7 DBs for most of the game last night.

Fortunately, Perry actually had a decent game. How long that will continue is anyone's guess. CM3 contributed almost nothing except a stupid roughing the passer penalty that could have cost us the game.

If I was Pettine I would go with Perry and Gilbert on the edge and move CM3 inside with Martinez. It just doesn't look like CM3 can be effective from the edge any longer. It will also be interesting to see the impact that Oren Burks has on the ILB corp when he returns.

As for AR, it sounds like he can play through his knee injury but my concern is for the impact on his mobility. Being able to throw on the run is a big part of Aaron's game and with the Vikings coming up he may need his mobility against the Queens pass rush. I hope that we see more of Mercedes Lewis in the game to provide some blocking support for the OL. Thanks, Since '61

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Rcariveau's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:34 am

I think Pettine called a hell of a game after the first 2 series. Josh Jackson blanketed Burton all night. I think they wanted to feature Burton, and just couldn't with Jackson on him.

I want to give King a chance on the outside, not sure about him. I don't think TT was big on Watt, but the game Watt had yesterday makes me wonder what he would be doing for GB right now.

CM3 not sure what he was doing this game, over pursued on some plays and just wasn't a factor at all. Besides for almost costing us a game.

If this was any other year, I feel like the D would have given up the FG at the end, with a prevent defense. Instead Pettine attacked and the D played fast.

Good first win.

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RobinsonDavis's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:16 am

Some additional thoughts:

A couple of the so-called sacks were coverage sacks imo. The secondary was causing Trubisky to look for the second & third options in the second half, which seemed to make him panic a little. The secondary deserves some love.

Where was the short passing game earlier? The Bears were playing 2 deep and were sucked up with the short game in the 2nd half. This allowed for the big plays to Allison, and the RAC. It also helped the o-line.

Yes, Matthews had a bad game. He seemed indecisive at times and then the one time he really should have let-up, he did not. But, many of those commenting on this site regarding Clay & Cobb , really wanted Fuller in free-agency, who had a worse game. We absolutely need Clay to play better, but I see it more as him finishing vs. not being in position to make a play. He's a pro, he's proud and he knows he has to play better vs. the Vikings.

My bigger concern is with our O-line vs. the Vikings. Waiting for our film review guys to do their thing, but to me, the O-line stepped-up in the 2nd half.
GO PACK!!

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Since'61's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:10 am

Agree, Pettine called an excellent game after a rough start. No doubt Watt would have been a better choice than Beigel. Can’t look back though. Need Gute to continue to move us in the right direction. Thanks, Since ‘61

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 01:58 pm

That roughing the passer penalty was called way to quickly. It should have never been called. Saw it happen in the Browns and Steeler game as well. Roughing the passer calls are coming to quickly this year. Saw it in a couple other games as well. But I will agree that CM3 had very little impact in the game.

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HankScorpio's picture

September 10, 2018 at 02:35 pm

"It was clear that Pettine did not have much confidence in the LB corps since he played 6 or 7 DBs for most of the game last night."

He shouldn't have confidence in them. As a group, they are sub par. They have been for years. Maybe even decades. They are thin at OLB in both quantity and quality. Their ILB groups consists mostly of guys added after camp started as they search for guys that can make a meaningful contribution,

Last year, none of that would have mattered. They would have plugged in the next man up at ILB and suffered for it. This year, as you noted, they by-passed the weak players and put the better quality of player at DB & DL on the field. That's a refreshing step in the right direction. Good coaching puts the best 11 on the field for a situation and figures out a way to make it work. Bad coaching tries to force something that the level of talent does not support.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:48 am

Oh, regarding ILB issue, I have to notice that ILB 2 - Jack Ryan is on IR. That injury was the moment Packers started to look for help. They had 7 ILB in the camp, or you forget?

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HankScorpio's picture

September 11, 2018 at 06:17 am

No, i didn't forget about Jake Ryan. Hence the comment "They would have plugged in the next man up at ILB and suffered for it". "Next man up" being a common phrase used to imply playing someone lower on the depth chart playing in place of an injured player.

And having stiffs on the pre-camp roster doesn't mean they have good enough players to be successful. They took a good long look at Greer Martini. Based on that look, they decided he wasn't NFL caliber and they would rather have someone else's camp rejects.

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Rcariveau's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:28 am

Kizer did give up 10 points himself. Got to hold onto the ball in the redzone. The play before half was absolutely not a good play by Kizer, but maybe a worse call for MM. With 50 seconds left in the half CHI had no time outs. Just hand the ball off and punt take it to half 10-0. Why let Kizer through the ball, but Kizer should have just taken the sack. Seems like is quick pressure moments Kizer panics. He just needs a good 1-2 years to sit and learn.

That play almost cost the game and was the difference all the way through the second half. I am usually not very hard on MM, but that was just the dumbest thing. To put the ball in Kizer's hands after he just fumbled in the red zone. Had Brett Hundley written all over it.

Besides for the pick 6 and fumble, somehow I felt better about Kizer back there than Hundley. Felt like Kizer stuck around in the pocket to find a WR.

Not sure why Mercedes Lewis didn't play more, he just graded out as the best blocking TE last season. I think that could have helped with Mack when Rodgers was out.

GO PACK GO, and somehow beat the vikes next week!

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croatpackfan's picture

September 11, 2018 at 02:51 am

"Not sure why Mercedes Lewis didn't play more, he just graded out as the best blocking TE last season. I think that could have helped with Mack when Rodgers was out."

I did not feel Mack was problem in the 2nd half. Neither Hicks, nor Floyd. And surely not Smith!

Aaron was in the pocket during 2nd half and had one hit only!

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TimBackes's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:31 am

Matthews was an absolute disaster last night. Not the best look for a guy in a contract year. The Packers need him to be better than what he showed against the Bears.

That being said, you're right--hats off to Pettine. only 16 total points allowed by the defense, and they REALLY clamped down in the second half (aided by some questionable playcalling). That defense was forced (by Matthews) to make a stop to seal the game TWICE. Hard to imagine a Dom Capers defense accomplishing that feat.

First half was scary, but as long as Rodgers is able to continue playing (fingers crossed), second half provided a lot to be hopeful about.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 02:15 pm

I don't blame Matthews for that lame roughing the passer call. It's how quickly the refs are calling it this year that is ridiculous. But for sure Matthews did not play well. Had Rodgers been able to play his game the score would have been much higher for the Packers. If he was able to lead the team to 24 points in the second half then he could have done the same in the first half, had the game been coached better. Terrible first half game management.

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Tundraboy's picture

September 10, 2018 at 09:29 pm

Call wasnt lame Matthews was lame. He didn't have to blast him with his helmet. He only had to do what Perry did to save him later, and that's tackle him around the waist and bring him down. Probably would have been called anyway but who knows.

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cheesehead1's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:34 am

Our D in the first half looked very similar to last year, not good. Hope Pettine can bring this group together. The Bears blew it plain and simple. Fuller could have ended it. Kudos to Rodgers, Cobb, Allison. Kizer, not so much. He looked like a reincarnation of Hundley...Agree with Since ‘61, move Matthews inside and see how it plays out.

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GVPacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:38 am

Call me crazy but I like A Rod sitting in the pocket and making those quick passes!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:57 am

Crazy

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GVPacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:11 pm

Thanks Jon!

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GVPacker's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:14 pm

That TD pass to Cobb, it looked like A Rod was holding a pint of Guinness in one hand while throwing a dart at a bullseye in an English Pub!

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Qoojo's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:38 am

"they released Vince Biegel"

Wait, what?! Why wouldn't they release him? He would just be occupying a valuable roster spot at this point.

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TXCHEESE's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:41 am

I have to think some of the 5 seconds in the pocket is AR holding the ball looking for a big play. The injury may be a small blessing in disguise, if it means #12 will get back to the quick timing routes etc.

Some may have to do with the OL not playing together the entire pre-season, and Rodgers not playing much. Hopefully the 2nd half gave them their mojo back.

Can't complain too much about the defense, although I wanted to kick Matthews in the onions on the roughing penalty.

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johngalt's picture

September 10, 2018 at 10:48 am

The empty back sets were troubling, and no Lewis to help chip.

Hope MM reads this:

"Hey Mike, Minnesota has a legit pass rush, and 12 is hobbled. Let's keep our QB alive and give him some help back there".

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Coldworld's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:44 pm

Trying to spread the offense. Valid strategy, but the approach adopted in the second half was much more effective.

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Handsback's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:19 am

Couldn't watch last night until the DaVante TD drive and forgot to record. I can't remember when the last time I saw the Green Bay defense stop another team for a win like that.
I hope ARod can make it through 16 games....just not sure he can.

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TheBigCheeze's picture

September 12, 2018 at 05:15 pm

.......thanks to Matthews......they had to stop them....TWICE!!!

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Lphill's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:32 am

I agree that Clay should play inside and Gilbert start with Perry , I am also wondering why not much Mercedes Lewis helping out with Mack.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

I really hope Aarons knee checks out, and he keeps throwing the ball on time.

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

An awesome win pulled out by Rodgers and why he is the most talented QB ever.
I'll try not to offend the second half play but, the Bears offense was and still is,as mentioned here a lot, not a real threat yet. So, was it more about the Packer defense stopping a mediocre offense or a mediocre offense making a defense look better later.
The Bears defense,especially Mack were tired and did what was needed in the first half. too bad for them Rodgers came back to play, though many were angrily questioning why and rightfully so.
This is a win that will aid the playoff chances but this level of play cannot be tolerated and will not prevail against stronger teams on offense.
Perry, after all these years finally made a game changing play and I'll applaud him for that but seriously, there is no way this dynamic dual from USC be more helpful than hindrance overall.
I'll collect my winnings....Bears plus 8 as mentioned last week and not even contemplate a wager on the next game...they'll be a much easier one to choose....but the lean is Minn for the win for obvious reasons other than Rodgers being hurt.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Tarynfor12, Hi. The Bears +8 was a Gift last night. I might disagree with you at this point on the Minn game next week. I'll be watching the line. Right now I lean towards GB Cover & Win. We'll see how things go.
LVT

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Hi Tom,
Thinking GB next week at this time is a pure emotional bet coming off a euphoric win last night....Heart-Head.
Rodgers is hurting and the Packers looked horrible early and better, against a Bears team known to be lacking offense later, are possibly riding a more false confidence today and going into next week. Minn is not a team to play or take lightly considering the former with the head and not the heart.
If you're going to bet,do it now as I can see this game coming off the board until a final diagnosis of Rodgers is put out.

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LASVEGAS-TOM's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Tarynfor12, I don't disagree with you. I just like games where I think the money is all the other way, like last night. At this point, I think the money goes on Minn, but AR is Strong, injured or not. You are right though, This game could come off the board. There probably are better bets out there than this one. Good Luck!!
LVT

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Razer's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:10 pm

... the Bears offense was and still is,as mentioned here a lot, not a real threat yet. So, was it more about the Packer defense stopping a mediocre offense or a mediocre offense making a defense look better later...

I think this is accurate. Despite the final stop, we gave an average offense with a young QB many opportunities to beat us. They almost ran out the clock as we again had trouble getting off the field on 3rd down. I'll put it down to first game of the year instead of glaring holes in the 'D'. I do think that we are still thin on defensive talent, particularly at linebacker.

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Coldworld's picture

September 10, 2018 at 06:45 pm

Perry was obviously on a limited snap count. Very effective per snap played.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 10, 2018 at 11:58 am

Thinking out loud...

IF Rodgers is able to keep playing, I really wonder what last nights game does for the confidence of this team.

How does that not rally the team together. I really wonder what it does for the confidence of this team moving forward.

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:08 pm

True...but one must be leery of following injured heroes beyond your own ability and tolerance of injury.
This team has been seen as soft when it comes to injuries and the time to recover. Thinking or trying to believe they should be..." I don't have time to bleed " types, could be a little to dangerous...for them.

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billybobton's picture

September 10, 2018 at 12:46 pm

Nobody who knows football wanted Fuller in GB. Nobody as I have posted BEFORE the game Fuller would not be gettting snaps in GB now. Just like all the Randal and rollins fans were either wrong or just parroting crap.

NEVER did any of the three Fuller, Randal or ROllins put on tape results like both our rookies did this pre season. Not close, didn't happen.

Give them credit and give GUTE credit for trolling the bears and messing the cap for them and for having CBs who can actually play instead of 2 pampered undeserving draft choices who never earned snaps.

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