Packers at Bears: Gameday Preview - 2023 Week 1

The Packers start a new era against an old for this afternoon and there is a lot to talk about!

The last time the Packers played the Bears, they were hot on an unlikely playoff run and beat the Bears for the 8th straight time, powered by a big performance from Christian Watson, who had 46 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown to go with 48 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown.

Justin Fields led the Bears with 71 rushing yards (plus a rushing touchdown) and also had a season-high 254 passing yards with 2 interceptions, but no passing touchdowns.

The Packers were down 19-10 heading into the 4th quarter, but got hot late and poured on 18 points to win 28-19.

Now, the Packers start a new era in the rivalry, as Jordan Love and Justin Fields face off for the first time.

 

WHEN THE PACKERS HAVE THE BALL

Jordan Love will be the focal point of the offense and all the narratives, but let's not lose track of a couple other things.

The Packers, even if David Bakhtiari doesn't play, have an offensive line that is flat out better than the Bears defensive line. The Packers also have a couple of running backs that should be able to find success against a Chicago defense that added pieces, but is still a bit of a patch job, especially in the box. The Packers rushed for 378 yards in two games against the Bears last year, and there's no reason they can't do it again.

But we know the passing attack will be a big part of this game.

The Packers have the advantage of the unknown, as their receivers and tight ends are all either rookies or guys who didn't even play the full slate last year. And the new quarterback means the offense will be run differently. That can (and probably will) cause mental mistakes, as well.

Luckily, Jordan Love's mental game seems to have grown over the years. He'll have to play smart for the Packers to win. That means playing within the offense and taking what the Bears give him.

The Bears have good corners, but better safeties. There's no need to test a lot of deep balls. Maybe mix a couple in to keep the defense honest, but the intermediate crossing routes and screen passes should be the staples.

Romeo Doubs looks ready to play (which is critical since the Packers will be missing Christian Watson), so he and Jayden Reed should be frequent targets on crossers and out routes, while Luke Musgrave works the seam, and the Packers throw liberally to Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to keep the Bears defense stretched horizontally more than vertically.

The Bears would be wise to blitz the bejeesus out of Love early to see how he holds up. The Packers should counter with standard blitz beaters: quick hit hot routes and screen passes mixed with a heavy ground game.

Jordan Love needs to be ready to move around the pocket and make quick decisions.

 

WHEN THE PACKERS ARE ON DEFENSE

Much like the Packers young quarterback is the focus of the offense, the Bears young quarterback is the focus of theirs, though for different reasons.

Justin Field poses a huge threat as a runner and an inconsistent (at best) threat as a passer. While he has the arm strength, his accuracy is all over the place - even his passing "highlights" feature receivers making diving grabs or difficult adjustments. The pickup of DJ Moore has drawn high praise this offseason, and he looks to be the focal point of the their passing attack.

Jaire Alexander should follow Moore and the Packers should shade coverage to take away the one big receiving threat the Bears have. Chase Claypool, while an athletic phenom, has not been able to capitalize on his tools and didn't seem to mesh with the Bears offense last year. Darnell Mooney is a field-stretching deep threat, who would be a great matchup for Eric Stokes, but may have to be handled by Keisean Nixon or Carrington Valentine, who should give him some space.

The Packers can limit the Bears aerial attack with a strong pass rush. Even if Rashan Gary isn't full speed, the Bears offensive line is still sub-par and ripe for abuse from the Packers front. Green Bay ran their defensive line differently in the preseason than they have in the past. They moved Clark to defensive end and ran a lot more stunts. If they can bring more pressure from the line, instead of just rushing straight forward every play, it can force Justin Fields to throw quicker and also make it harder for him to find run lanes.

Even with that, the Packers will need to put a spy on Justin Fields to make sure he doesn't bust too many long runs. Quay Walker and Darnell Savage are good choices because of their speed, but the job may fall to Walker out of necessity. The Packers are weak at safety and if they plan to run 3 down linemen more often, they may go with more single safety looks, and Savage would have a lot of back end roaming responsibility.

Bears starting running back Khalil Herbert is middling and nowhere near the running threat that Justin Fields is.

The Packers defense will not be able to take any plays off and their front needs to come through. TJ Slaton is now at nose tackle to allow Kenny Clark to be more disruptive at defensive end. Devonte Wyatt looks ready for a year two jump based on his impressive training camp and the Packers will need all three of them to be effective as Rashan Gary probably won't be at full speed and Lukas Van Ness is still developing.

De'Vondre Campbell and Quay Walker could bring some surprise blitzes up the middle if the Packers edge rushers don't generate a lot of pressure.

 

OTHER NOTES

  • The Packers kicking game is going to be a trip with Anders Carlson - let's hope it doesn't come down to a last-second field goal
  • Keisean Nixon may see more snaps on defense, which could leave him winded for the return game, and less effective than last year
  • Robert Tonyan, Marcedes Lewis, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Lucas Patrick are all former Packers that moved to the Bears - none of them are superstars, but all of them have some insight into the Packers that could be used against them
  • I expect a lot of pre-snap motion out of the Packers, and I don't think we'll see the play clock hit 0 nearly as much as we're used to
  • Bears fans are really tired of losing to the Packers and see Jordan Love's first start as the leader of this team as their opportunity to turn the history of this rivalry - I expect this will be the loudest we have seen Soldier Field in a long time

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Two young quarterbacks with accuracy issues are facing off. There's bound to be big plays and mistakes by both of them.

They'll get most of the attention, but the real discrepancy between these two teams is in the trenches. The Packers offensive line outclasses the Bears defensive line and the Packers defensive line outclasses the Bears offensive line. That should be the difference today.

We don't really know what to expect, but this factor is hard to ignore and I think it will impact the outcome far more than all the quarterback and receiver talk.

I think we're in for a roller coaster of a game with a lot of momentum swings, but I think line play will win out in the end for this one.

Packers 24, Bears 20

 

 

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Bruce Irons has played, coached, and studied football for decades. Best-selling author of books such as A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Draft, A Fan's Guide To Understanding The NFL Salary Cap, and A Fan's Guide To NFL Free Agency Hits And Misses, Bruce contributes to CheeseHeadTV and PackersForTheWin.com.

Follow Bruce Irons on Twitter at @BruceIronsNFL.

__________________________

5 points
 

Comments (19)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 10, 2023 at 06:18 am

I have been waiting for this new era since April 23, 2020. It is time!

There isn't a bigger supporter of Jordan Love anywhere. Jordan is going to be a rock solid QB to a really good QB this year who only continues to improve for quite a few years. Us Packer fans are going to really enjoy having Love as our starting QB. I firmly believe he will have better stats this year than Rodgers did last year. This includes the # of team victories, which is the ultimate measurement. Even though this game will have a heavy dose of run plays, I suspect Love will throw for over 300 yards with at least 2 TD's unless MLF really is pulling back hard on the reigns. December 12, 2021 was the last time Rodgers threw for 300 yards. I want Jordan Love to 'play to win, and not to lose'. Play smart but aggressive! Jordan came into the NFL being a gunslinger IMO, somewhat like Favre, but sat and learned from Rodgers for 3 years. Hopefully, he has developed mentally the perfect blend of a risk-taker/cautionary approach where he intuitively knows when to be aggressive, as well as when to throw it away.

The defense will ultimately decide the outcome in this game. They play the way they ought to and the Packers win.

Let the new era begin with all the exciting possibilities and young talented players. I don't recall ever being more excited and hopeful for a new season.

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 10, 2023 at 06:35 am

There are so many young players both on offense and defense I want to try watching. On defense my focus will mainly be on the DL, especially #95, and #7 at LB. Offensively, it will be torn between #10, #50, and the likes of Doubs, Reed, Musgrave, Toure, Wicks, and Heath. Musgrave was my guy pre-draft crush (like Jordan Love was in April 2020), and I believe Musgrave will have a monster year should he remain healthy. We are going to hear "Jordan Love to Luke Musgrave" a lot this year, and coming years.

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NickPerry's picture

September 10, 2023 at 06:42 am

Lets GO!!!

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KnockTheSnotOutOfYou's picture

September 10, 2023 at 06:47 am

I'm ready!

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TKWorldWide's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:31 am

Succinct!

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NickPerry's picture

September 10, 2023 at 12:59 pm

Yeah man!

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Since'61's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:56 am

Here we go again Nick! Yet another season of Packer football. We've been at this since the Jersey Al ALLGBP days. I'll be looking forward to your posts throughout the season and to enjoying the journey we are embarking upon as fellow Packer fans. Thanks, Since '61

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LambeauPlain's picture

September 10, 2023 at 07:22 am

The Bears D coaches and players have never played against MLF's true IOC Offense. Since 2019, the IOC morphed into a hybrid of the IOC and Rodgers favorite parts of the McCarthy O...especially heavy focus on perimeter passing.

However Luke Getsy, Bears OC, knows the true IOC very well, having coached it for 3 years as Packers QB coach. I am certain he has been sharing his knowledge with Bears DC Williams. The 4 ex-Packers Tonyan, Lewis, ESB and Patrick will share their input too.

MLF knows this. Really looking forward to see what he has drawn up and how he adjusts during the battle.

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fireball's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:23 am

I have absolutely no idea who will win the game today between the Packers and the Bears. It's a toss-up; although, if I had to give a slight edge to one or the other, I'd give it to the Bears because of Field's scrambling ability and two years starting experience. Also, until Joe Barry can prove otherwise, his defensive coaching is up for grabs. Also of note is that Matt LaFleur's first losing season running the offense last year came with the loss of his offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett, who had been hired for the head coaching job with the Denver Broncos. Was Nathaniel Hackett the true strength of the Packer offense ( for 3 straight years before he was hired away )?

So, for the Packers, no hall of fame quarterback for the first time, and just a three-year understudy to replace him. And an offensive head coach who has yet to prove that he can run an offensive team. . . without Hackett? And, maybe even worse, a defensive coordinator who has failed two years in a row to prove that he has the skill, talent, knowledge to be a successful defensive coordinator.

Lots to look forward to for this first game of the season. Lots to analyze.

And, a final interesting little side note is that David Bakhtiari, two years and eight months after an ACL injury and three operations. is still not able to practice in any meaningful way.

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TKWorldWide's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:34 am

Game faces, everybody!
We’re playing for keeps now!

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Since'61's picture

September 10, 2023 at 10:51 am

TK - Game faces and cookie! Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Spock's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:40 am

I want to see the Packers looking "hungry" and playing aggressively. The last two years with the "veterans don't need preseason, the QB doesn't need to practice with young receivers" mindset made the first game of the year disasters. If THIS team comes out "flat" I'll be extremely disappointed, but from everything I've read it sounds like these youngsters have a lot of "want" and "we" in them. Can't wait for kickoff! GPG!!!!!

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lou's picture

September 10, 2023 at 08:49 am

I realize the Bears are playing at home and Aaron Rodgers is no longer a Packer but even considering that how can a team that won only 3 games last season be favored ? That alone should be enough incentive for the young Packer team.

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Fubared's picture

September 10, 2023 at 11:12 am

Its not the same team as last year for sure. They will be better, how much who knows?

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Oppy's picture

September 10, 2023 at 12:03 pm

The bears will definitely be better than the Vikings.

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greengold's picture

September 10, 2023 at 09:47 am

DITTO, to all of my friends here! Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for.

All I want is for our Green Bay Packers, players and coaches alike, to perform with that true passion & love for the game to the very best of their abilities. Bring the fire, cool calm collectedness in their abilities and the job at hand to dominate the Chicago Bears.

Be the TEAM you were assembled for, and maintain the focus to give your absolute best today.

DOMINATE.

LFG GPG CTFB AGNFB

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Fubared's picture

September 10, 2023 at 11:11 am

My two cents: this wont be a blow out by either team and it will probably be a one score win. I see these teams at about even. Just sayin
I just hope LeFlower Plan A isnt run run run and pass when you have to. Ya that dont work anymore in this league. Running teams lose to passing teams.

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mnbadger's picture

September 10, 2023 at 01:19 pm

Pack 27 - cubs 23.
GPG!

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mnbadger's picture

September 11, 2023 at 12:41 pm

I was way off! Thankfully!
GPG!

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