Packers top Bears 10-3 in Season Opener

The Packers win a defensive struggle in the season opener. 

Slow and steady wins the race, right? That was surely the case for the Green Bay Packers (1-0, 1-0 NFC North) in week one of the NFL’s 100th season, topping NFC North Rival, the Chicago Bears (0-1, 0-1 NFC North) 10-3 at Soldier Field.

The Matt LaFleur era opened with a win, and even if it was not the prettiest game, a win on the road over a division rival is absolutely a great start for the Packers moving forwards.  

“They worked for four quarters, and we knew it was going to be a four-quarter battle,” LaFleur said at the post-game press conference. “Proud of our defense, and their effort. I thought they were smothering. Special teams really picked up the slack. Obviously, we have a lot of improvement from the offensive side of the ball.”

The offensive struggled to find any sense of consistent rhythm throughout the game, but a phenomenal scoring drive in the second quarter was certainly the highlight. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who finished 18-30 for 203 yards and a touchdown (ESPN stats), took Green Bay 74 yards in just four plays in 1:35. 47 yards to wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling, 9 yards to tight end Mercedes Lewis, 10 yards to wide receiver Davante Adams, and then an insane 8-yard 50-50 touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Count it. Thanks to the superb performance from Mike Pettine’s defense, that drive was all the Packers needed to top the Bears Thursday night.

With some offensive struggles, a defense that looked truly promising for the first time in years, and an electric performance from punter JK Scott, we certainly have quite a few things to takeaway.

What we learned: “We got a defense”

Rodgers said it best in his post-game interview. For the first time in a long time, the Green Bay Packers have a defense and boy, did they show up Thursday night. Packers fans saw what Mike Pettine was starting to implement last season and with the addition of some key players in the offseason like, linebackers Za’Darius and Preston Smith and safety Adrian Amos, as well as key draft picks in players like safety Darnell Savage, they finally have the key weapons they were missing before.

“I just thought, it seemed like they were all over the place, it felt like we were getting pretty good pressure, the coverage was on point,” LaFleur said at the post-game press conference. “That’s great credit not only to those players, but to our coaching staff as well. I thought Mike Pettine and our staff on defense designed a great plan and were certainly able to get some free runners tonight.”

As a whole, the defense combined for 5 sacks and 4 tackles for a loss, and a late-game interception, (ESPN stats), but they could have easily had two more picks as well.

What went right: Defense and Special Teams (JK Scott)

I already touched on the defensive performance above, but let’s talk about punter JK Scott and the monster night that he had. Scott punted a total of 9 times for 428 total yards with an average distance of  47.6 yards (ESPN stats). Five of his nine punts also landed inside the Bears’ own 20-yard line. I know punters are rarely talked about, but if you watched this game you could not miss the significant impact Scott made for the Packers.

What went wrong:  Running Game/ Pass Block

It was evident that the Packers’ true offense did not take any snaps together during preseason Thursday, but it also did not help that they were up against one of the toughest defenses in the league.

Rodgers was sacked a total of 5 times (ESPN stats), as the Bear’s defensive front came blazing through the Packers offensive line on multiple occasions. The run game was pretty much non-existent for the Packers as well. They were held to a team total of 47 rushing yards, with running back Aaron Jones accounting for 39 of the 47 yards (ESPN stats).

As the season goes on, I certainly think that this is something that will improve, so there is no need to panic too much. The combination of it being week one against the Bears’ defense, with little real-game situations under their belt, just proved to be a little too much for the Packers’ offensive front Thursday night.

Offensive Standouts: Graham, MVS

It finally happened. Jimmy Graham played a significant role in the Packers offense in week one. With LaFleur’s new offense, it was no surprise to see him and Lewis more involved, but it was refreshing to see Graham come up with some of the plays that he did. His athletic ability on his 50-50 touchdown catch was one of the reasons that the Packers got him last offseason and I certainly hope they continue to utilize him that way more often.

Graham finished the night with 3 receptions for 30 yards and a touchdown (ESPN stats).

MVS showed potential as a deep threat last season, and you could tell that he gained Rodgers’ trust in the last year he has been in Green Bay Thursday night. He had an impressive 47-yard catch that sparked the Packers’ scoring drive and led the team in receiving with 4 receptions for 52 yards on the night (ESPN stats).

MVS showed potential as a deep threat last season, and you could tell that he gained Rodgers’ trust in the last year he has been in Green Bay Thursday night. He had an impressive 47-yard catch that sparked the Packers’ scoring drive and led the team in receiving with 4 receptions for 52 yards on the night (ESPN stats).

Defensive Standouts: Savage, Amos, Smith^2

Honestly, I could highlight almost every player on the Packers’ defense for something that they did here, but Savage, Amos, and both Smiths really stood out to me.

Savage was simply, a savage, and came super close to his first career interception, while also breaking up several plays throughout the night.

Both Preston and Za’Darius Smith were putting constant pressure on Bears’ quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and Preston sealed the win with a sack, assisted by Za’Darius at the end of the game.

However, Amos, who just so happens to be a former Bear, takes the cake with his interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter. Oh, the irony of that one.

Up next, the Green Bay Packers get a visit from another NFC North rival, the Minnesota Vikings, next Sunday Sept 15th. Kickoff is set for 1 PM EST.

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (69)

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

September 06, 2019 at 12:26 am

Unsung hero play: Kevin King got ahead of Allen Robinson and boxed him out in the back of the end zone allowing an easy interception by Amos. Allen Robinson had been making big plays all night so that was a huge play by the CB/FS combo to seal the victory.

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SarahKelliher's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:27 am

100% agree. When King is healthy and in the game he ALWAYS makes things happen. Not only can he make big plays himself, but he seems to have a real knack for creating opportunities for his teammates to make plays too.

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sonomaca's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:56 am

Saw King stick his nose in on a couple of tackles. He looks bigger and stronger.

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lucky953's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:25 am

Also dropped an easy interception that would have immediately put us in FG position early in the game.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:51 am

True, but one has to look at the overall impact and recall that King is more rusty than most.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 05:15 am

That was actually TWill...

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 06:11 am

Williams played well. King played very well too, although he will kick himself for dropping the interception.

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Handsback's picture

September 06, 2019 at 06:23 am

I think King actually dropped the Bear;s QB behind the LOS once. It was a very heady play.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:04 am

I think TWill had a couple poor penalties. In a game like last night, those can kill your chances to win.

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Since'61's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:48 am

Actually Dobber Twill has 4 penalties in the game. I think that each one gave the Bears a first down.
Thanks, Since ‘61

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:20 pm

How many big plays did he prevent by making sure everybody knew their assignment and there were no blown coverages?

There's a value in having a player who can get everybody on the same page and keep them there.

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GVPacker's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:56 pm

Good Catch Dobber!

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:24 am

Amos > HHCD and Mitch sucks. Almost EXACTLY what millions of fans outside of Chicago have been trying to tell Bears fans for months.

Poetry. Pure. Poetry.

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GVPacker's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Yes Bearmeat Mitch is a Bonehead of Epic Proportions! Throwing the ball into double and triple coverage,. The Packers could have had at least two more picks. I'm also not buying the Nagy offensive genius guru nonsense either Pettine really made his offense look like a dumpster fire!

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sonomaca's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:51 am

Look forward to more Trevor Davis. He’s so quick. Virtually uncoverable. A weapon.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:05 am

How he was so open on that late play in Packers territory when the vaunted Bears defense needed a stop was unbelievable.

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White92's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:26 am

It was interesting. Devante went out on that play and I thought for sure they going to run the ball. Very nice play

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lucky953's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:27 am

Play action created by formation. Two back set they had run out of 2-3 times before, plus deep in our own half. Great execution.

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sam1's picture

September 06, 2019 at 10:23 am

Caught flack on here all summer for picking Davis as my break out player!

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splitpea1's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:51 am

Some people didn't think this was a pretty win, but I thoroughly enjoyed most aspects of this game. The defense was outstanding, the special teams were solid, and while the "new" offense was nonexistent, they didn't make any costly mistakes, either. Not many offenses are going to waltz in and run over the Bears on their home turf, anyway.

Non-player game balls go to: Jim Cornelison for his strong and proper rendition of the national anthem; Michele Tafoya and her throwback outfit (gotta bring those fashions back!), and Tony Corrente for not finding a way to screw us (although a late hit/face mask on Rodgers should have been called in the fourth quarter).

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sonomaca's picture

September 06, 2019 at 01:00 am

There was the Gabriel in-bounds call. Luckily MLF had a challenge left. The first challenge may not have worked, but it set up the offensive pass interference call later in the game.

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Minniman's picture

September 06, 2019 at 05:14 am

I don't think that the gravity of this win will be fully recognized until a couple of weeks into the season. The 2019 bears are no "gimmes".

I especially liked that the team is now balanced on both sides of the ball and were able to hang tough and grind out a win

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:07 am

Absolutely...huge.

If the Packers can follow that with a home win against the Vikes next week, it's a great start.

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LeotisHarris's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:25 am

It was a treat to watch the electric atmosphere melt away into full-throated booing. On top of the national stage and all that went with it, they rolled out the '85 Bears to tee up certain slaughter of the Packers, and it didn't happen. So sweet. So. Damn. Sweet.

I'd braced myself for a loss just because in the absence of data people make stuff up. I'm excited for this team!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:22 am

Leotis,

Q: What's the difference between the Chicago Bears and McFly from Back to the future?

A: Eventually McFly stops going back to 1985.

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LeotisHarris's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:23 pm

LOL. That's true, JS!

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Bearmeat's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:00 am

If we win next week, we have a stranglehold on the division already. Playoffs baby!

Ok... maybe not a stranglehold, but a HUGE leg up. ;)

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Thebearsstillsuck's picture

September 06, 2019 at 05:47 am

I'm glad someone else noticed the incredibly strong performance of the anthem. Go Pack and go America

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:06 am

I think he's the guy who sings for the Blackhawks.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:47 am

The offense wasn't getting traction for most of the game, but I was really, really pleased to see Rodgers still working in MLFs system for most of the game. Quick dumpoffs, short throws in the flat, etc. Even the deep play was well executed and caught a receiver in stride. Once the running game starts clicking and becomes a threat the defense has to consistently account for, this offense could be scary good.

Jones didn't look great at the start of the game, but those hard run yards in the 4th were great to see. Gotta love to see an RB that can get positive yards when the defense knows the run is coming.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:54 am

When was his last carry in anger? All of them looked rusty. Will we remember this next off season? I hope so.

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Minniman's picture

September 06, 2019 at 03:06 pm

I'll be keen to see the next couple of early season games for the Bears to see how other teams ground games fare.

That bears defense was #1 in the league last year (in many categories anyway) and they didn't have a change in the front 7. The Packers were going to have to be patient and wait for their opportunities - which they did.

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Gort's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:37 am

Couldn't agree more with the comments regarding Jim Cornelison and his performance of the National Anthem. I love it when he points to the flag. No "look at me" gestures or distractions. The man has a gift and I think that his 2 minutes alone are worth the price of admission.

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lucky953's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:31 am

Being at the game and their fans were SO amped up. Truly, after the frustrations of the past two years, one of the most enjoyable games I have had the pleasure to be at. Exhilarating!!

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CAG123's picture

September 06, 2019 at 01:49 am

Ahhhh now I can spend the next week telling Bears fans that Rodgers beat them again with a game winner and the Packers more than tripled their scoring output. Also it’s borderline criminal that the Smiths jersey numbers aren’t close together.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:55 am

The painful part for the Bears is that if you hold an opponent to 10 points at home, you should win that game every time. EVERY TIME.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:02 pm

The painful thing is surely that the Bears are built on being the dominant D. That’s the current Myth of the Midway at any rate.

Bears fans hope for a better O, but their whole foundation is a D they consider unmatchable in the Division and perhaps the Conference. To be out played by a division rival on DEFENSE at home in game one was something no Bears fan considered possible. Hence the denial of the quality of the GB D play today (it was all the fault of their O, Coach and QB and the refs).

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CAG123's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Definitely this Bears fan I know pulled out the old “We beat ourselves” gem (which I hate) if that’s the case every team beats themselves with penalties, dropped passes, bad throws etc. Hell the Packers def bailed them out with at least 3 dropped picks themselves I have no problem saying that was another 10 points left on the field.

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Bure9620's picture

September 06, 2019 at 04:58 am

It was so refreshing watching a solid special teams unit flipping the field and not being penalized on every play. What an improvement......This defense can carry a long way playing like that.........

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 06, 2019 at 05:00 am

The much talked about Bears defense was very good but the Packers defense rose to the occasion and made a statement that the Bears aren't the only dominant defense around!! Adrian Amos sealed the deal with that interception in the end zone and King had a lot to do with that interception by his outstanding coverage. And the special teams play of JK Scott kept the Bears offense deep in their own territory. Those booming punts were just what Green Bay needed to allow the defense to dominate the game. Although the offense needs work, they played well enough to win, thanks to a great defensive effort. It was a team win for sure. Once the rust gets knocked off the starting offense I saw plenty of potential to become a force to be reckoned with as well. To seal a win on the road against an divisional opponent like the Bears is as good as it gets. Go! Pack! Go!

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Johnblood27's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:06 am

That was NOT King.

20 does not equal 38

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:03 pm

King was pretty darn good on the snaps he did play though.

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 07, 2019 at 05:42 am

Oops, wrong number, Williams instead of King. The numbers that were important are 10, which was enough to win!! So 10 would equal a 1 for the Packers and a zero for the Bears. Go! Pack! Go!

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packrulz's picture

September 06, 2019 at 05:35 am

Here's a toast to Gute!

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Daren726's picture

September 06, 2019 at 06:15 am

Gute and Pettine.

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Rak47's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:19 am

Gotta give LaFluer some love as he is the HC and his team came out ready to play.

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ThxJackVainisi's picture

September 06, 2019 at 07:31 am

Gutekunst deserves huge credit for remaking the defense. His emphasis on speed and long athletic players for the front seven and OL is going to pay dividends into the future. How great is it to know we don’t have to worry about the 4 free agents acquired during the offseason declining because of age? Za’Darius, Preston, Amos, and Turner are all in the prime of their careers!

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BoCallahan's picture

September 06, 2019 at 07:35 am

Did Rashan Gary get any snaps? I don’t recall seeing him in the game.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:08 am

I asked that question, too. Waiting for snap counts to come out.

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Gort's picture

September 06, 2019 at 03:17 pm

Also waiting on grades from Andrew Hermann.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:12 am

DOINK!!!

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ottscay's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:39 am

He didn't get many snaps, but on that last drive he flew in off a stunt to pressure Trubisky: https://twitter.com/AndyHermanNFL/status/1169851249606324225?s=20

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:58 am

Thanks, ottscay!

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:13 am

That's great to see!

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Rak47's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:24 am

Thanks, that was a good clip. Nice to see Gary get a clear shot on the QB off a stunt. Now he just needs to try and not his own teammate so hard. He pretty much slammed full speed into Preston Smith who already had Trubiscuit wrapped up.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:04 pm

6. Actually had some impact during those.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:20 am

Now that the Packers have put the first victory in the books it’s time for our coaches to get back to work and fix the things that need fixing.
1- Only a matter of time before Elgton Jenkins pushes Lane Taylor to back-up status. Taylor was brutal last night.
2- Packers struggled at times to get plays in on time. Can’t burn time outs early in half’s.Didn’t hurt us last night but...
3- Too many penalties need to clean it up.
4- Offense clearly needs work. Bears might be best D they face all year but Packers need to find a way to run the football. Also, too many plays our receivers didn’t get open.
5- Talked during camp about using fullback. Yet, didn’t see anything from Vitale last night. Not his fault but if they use that roster spot he needs to be used.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:12 pm

O line needs to play together not be in flux. Vitale clearly wasn’t part of the game planning emphasis last night. Instead we saw a lot of 2 TE sets. I’m fine with that. Going with your strengths against your opposition’s weaknesses is smart planning. MM refused to do that. I am sure Vitale will see more action in other games.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 06, 2019 at 02:02 pm

Tough to play together when you Guard is lying flat on his back being pancaked. Nice to try to keep guys together but he has to have the talent to be one of the group. Taylor struggled last season and in this game seems like more of the same.
I have a hard time believing their weren’t more opportunities to use Vitale when Pack was struggling to run. Seems like perfect time to use him as a blocker. Noting fullback is not carried by most teams just wondering if this is effective use of a roster spot. Hopefully he will be used in other games as you suggested.

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blacke00's picture

September 06, 2019 at 08:51 am

I hate to say I told you so...But I told you so!

The O line has issues! I mentioned this months ago, that the 'guard play" is the major issue on this team and it proved to be true. That being said an O line needs to play as a unit (lack of preseason play) and they didn't play well for much of the game.

But it must also be mentioned that the O line wasn't all bad and that Rodgers holds some of the blame for many of the sacks. Again, he holds on to the ball to long and has to stop trying to push the ball down field when the play is not there!

Kudos to the defense! If they continue to play at this level, they will be a top 5 defense and give the Pack a real chance at the post season.

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Rak47's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:27 am

The entire offensive line played poorly with the exception of Bulaga. Bhak and Linsley looked no better than Turner and not much better than Taylor.
Stop pretending like it was just the guards.

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Since'61's picture

September 06, 2019 at 10:03 am

Agree on Linsley but Bulaga was solid, especially against Khalil Mack. Thanks, Since ‘61

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Got to consider who they were up against. There is real talent in that group not just Mack, including the ILBs.

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lucky953's picture

September 06, 2019 at 11:33 am

Disagree. Bahktiari was called on to block Mack 1 v 1 several times. No sacks, one hold: that's a good night against that D.

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2019 at 12:15 pm

I thought Linsley’s called hold was charged to Bakh as well in fact. But who cares? I will take that against the Bears.

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39 ford's picture

September 06, 2019 at 09:32 am

Great call by MLF on first challenge. Slowed down Bears offense @ the time.

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Since'61's picture

September 06, 2019 at 10:02 am

Good to win the first game on the road against a division opponent.

To me this game showed that the ground game is critical to enabling MLFs offense to succeed consistently. The Pack’s OL needs work on their run blocking. Our guards are still a concern in pass protection. On at least 3 of the sacks the Bears were on Rodgers before he had a chance to set. The Bears also did a good job of keeping Rodgers in the pocket.

Fortunately our defense carried the day and our tackling and pass rush look much improved.

The Packers have a mini-bye now which gives MLF plenty of time to work on the offense in preparation for the Vikings game.

For the last few seasons the Packers have played much better at home. Winning on the road with excellent defensive play is a very good sign for this team. When the offense gets in sync this team be scary.

So far so good for the MLF era. Thanks, Since ‘61

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PAPackerbacker's picture

September 07, 2019 at 06:11 am

A win by any description is still a win. An ugly win is better than an ugly loss. I'm sure once the offense gets in sync the points scored will increase. So nice to see the defense set the tempo of the game. And also the special team play of the punter as well. It was a team win with the defense being a huge part of it. And the offense scoring enough to win. And the special teams pinning the opponent deep in their own territory. There's always room for improvement, Stay focused, continue to improve, and the wins will mount up. Never, ever, under estimate an opponent. The Bears and their fans should know that by now :-)

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Djanko's picture

September 07, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Starting to really get concerned about Gary, 12th overall pick and plays a lousy 6 plays, add in bad shoulder you have a huge question mark. 12th pick MUST start....not looking good.

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