The prognostications, evaluations, proclamations, and things of that nature came to a screeching halt last night as the NFL kicked off the 100th season of professional football, featuring two of the oldest franchises in the game. We heard a lot about the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers in the off season, and lots of people told us lots of things about how good these teams were going to be.
After one game, lots of people seem kinda dumb.
The Packers beat the Bears 10-3 in a sloppy game that saw some narratives destroyed and other inflated to the point of nauseating. Let’s break down this game, and see why we should be encouraged as the Vikings head towards Sunday’s opener against the Falcons.
Bears Offense against the Packers Defense:
There’s a reason we’ve been saying around these parts that Mitchell Trubisky reminds us of Christian Ponder. He was terrible, all night long. The only group of folks that didn’t think Trubisky was bad were Bears fans. We knew he was, most NFL fans knew he was, and the Packers knew he was:
Packers cornerback Tramon Williams said. "We knew they had a lot of weapons, we knew they were dangerous, we knew all of those things. But we knew if we could make Mitch play quarterback, that we'd have a chance."— Michael Lombardi (@mlombardiNFL) September 6, 2019
That said, head coach Matt Nagy didn’t do Trubisky or the offense any favors. He called a John DiFilippo-like 53 pass plays to only 15 runs, one of which was Cordarrelle Patterson up the middle on third and 1. The result was a two yard loss.
Tarik Cohen had no carries. Rookie David Montgomery, who we’ve been told is a dynamo, had six carries for 18 yards. At one point, with the score 7-3, Nagy called 30 straight passing plays. JDF probably got aroused watching that sequence of play calling, if we’re being honest.
But back to Mitchell Ponder. Chicago’s very own Nuke LaLoosh missed open receivers all night, or made wrong reads and threw into coverage:
Me playing open gym at the Y pic.twitter.com/032Y7w4NuR— (@IdlenotIdol) September 6, 2019
Again Trubisky with the wrong read. The open WR is to the left pic.twitter.com/sQQfWLF4V4— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) September 6, 2019
If you missed it, here’s the still of that play:
Here’s one from last night. Look how open the receiver is to the left. Threw it down the middle for incompletion. I don’t know how to make gifs haha pic.twitter.com/fVMPR9nVLc— Really big (@hugefootballguy) September 6, 2019
Find someone who loves you as much as Mitchell Trubisky loves throwing into double coverage, kids. You’ll live a blessed life.
And this should have been an interception. Horrible read, stared down the receiver, horrible throw across the body and across the field:
Trubisky had time to allow his WR to the right to get open but throws a dangerous pass to the left across his body pic.twitter.com/1xa8chlrwf— Bears Barroom (@BearsBarroom) September 6, 2019
The cherry on top was his horrible, horrible pick into the end zone late in the game with a chance to tie the game:
#Bears-#Packers: End zone angle on the Trubisky INT. Eyes are locked-in on the corner route. That puts S Adrian Amos in a position to break on the ball & overlap the route. @NFLMatchup pic.twitter.com/Ey9a06VMTH— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) September 6, 2019
Never forget, the Bears traded up to get Trubisky, choosing him over DeShaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. TELL THEM WHAT THEY WON JOHNNY:
Bears’ drives tonight:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) September 6, 2019
12 yards, punt
16 yards, FG
25 yards, punt
34 yards, punt
12 yards, punt
0 yards, punt
2 yards, punt
9 yards, punt
47 yards, downs
23 yards, punt
59 yards, INT
-11 yards, downs
So why was Trubisky so bad? Well, as we’ve seen, it wasn’t because of the Packers suddenly stout defense. We’ve shown several clips that make me strongly feel that a halfway competent quarterback and receivers will shred this defense. For all of Trubisky’s struggles, Allen Robinson still had over 100 yards receiving, and on the 2-3 #professional #quarterback throws Trubisky made, the Bears took advantage:
Great throw. Great catch. Mitch to Arob! pic.twitter.com/4HXApoXK5z— Greg Braggs Jr. (@GBraggsJr) September 6, 2019
I am not even close to saying the Packers have a great defense yet, because they played against a bad quarterback who ran an obtuse game plan given to him by the latest resident offensive genius. Put in a more balanced game plan, have a quarterback that can read a defense and make some good throws, and you can hang 24 points or more on this team. This morning, and for the next 10 days, you will hear how Mike Pettine and the Packers defense have arrived, or turned a corner, now that this defense is in year two of the Pettine era.
They also said that about Mitchell Trubisky, being in year two of the Nagy offense.
Packers Offense against the Bears Defense:
Aaron Rodgers isn’t all that and a bag of doughnuts anymore, either. He generated exactly one touchdown drive last night when he was, in fact, The Old Aaron Rodgers on that drive. But how about the rest of the game?
Aaron Rodgers on the lone touchdown drive:— Frank Drebin (@Dougie2k_King) September 6, 2019
Aaron Rodgers on every other drive:
That adds up to an 18/30, 203 yards and 1 TD night. Not bad, but not Aaron Rodgers. Is it because of the big, bad, Bears defense? Well, yeah, it was early on. The Bears defense looked like the 1985 Bears in the first quarter, and they looked utterly terrifying. Look at this one armed sack, for example:
.@BigXander95 not wastin' ANY TIME! #GBvsCHI | #Bears100 pic.twitter.com/o2GkiYJJxs— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) September 6, 2019
NOTABLE ITEM OF INTEREST: The Packers were also called for holding more times last night than they were...
...the entirety of 2018, it seemed like. Either way, the Bears defense overwhelmed the Packers for most of the night, and other than the one TD drive, Green Bay had trouble running or passing the ball. But, with the Bears offense unable to stay on the field, they got tired and the Packers were able to make some first downs, keep the ball, eat the clock, and do just enough to win. They were putrid on third down conversions though, as were the Bears. Green Bay only converted 2-12, while Chicago went 3-15 on third down.
Still, it was a stout performance to keep a future Hall of Fame QB and Pro Bowl receiver in check. Davante Adams only had four catches for 36 yards on the evening, and Aaron Jones, a running back the Packers are really excited about, only had 39 yards on 13 carries.
One last thing about the Bears defense. One of the things I harped on all off-season was that I didn’t feel the Bears were going to replicate their +12 turnover margin from a year ago. Last season they seemed to get a turnover every time they needed one, and gave the offense a short field to work with. Last night they didn’t get a turnover, but they pinned Green Bay deep for a good part of the first quarter. That resulted in a short field for the Bears offense, and a field goal that capped a...wait for it...scintillating 16 yard drive. Bottom line—if the Bears defense can’t generate the same level of turnovers this year than they did last year, and I don’t think they will, it’s going to have a ripple effect to the offense, and the season. And we saw a glimpse of that last night.
Let’s get back to Rodgers for a minute. He was way off early on, and it was noticeable. He missed throws he used to make in his sleep. Whether it was a short out, a medium out, or a deep ball, he was misfiring early and often, and misfiring badly. Yes, some of it was due to the tremendous pass rush he faced, but he made some ugly throws from a clean pocket. And maybe it’s me watching with a little bit of purple tint in my glasses, but he didn’t seem to move nearly as fast out of the pocket, and when he did, his lateral speed isn’t what it was. In short, his escapability seems to have slipped a little bit, which I think helped contribute to the five or six sacks on the evening.
After watching last night’s game, I come away a lot more hopeful about the fortunes of the Vikings this year. I’ve been kind of pessimistic about them, as most of you could probably tell, and there are still a fair amount of questions this team needs to answer about themselves first. But after watching the Bears and Packers largely stink it up to start the season, the Vikings, for the most part, match up very well with both teams. If there’s one thing that really worries me in comparing the Vikes to both the Packers and Bears, it’s the Vikings offensive line against the Bears front seven. I think the o-line is better, but yeah, if David Bakhtiari was having issues early on last night (although he ended up having a heck of a game)...well, the Vikings better design a lot of misdirection and naked bootlegs to counter what the Bears do, or it’s going to be a long day.