I don’t consider myself the biggest Bears fan by any means, but I was hyped for this game since the NFL Draft concluded. That continued to build as we passed through summer and the preseason. I know there was a lot of hype going into this game against the Green Bay Packers, as there should’ve been, with how talented a roster they have.
Bears fans packed Soldier Field, something I can say I’ve never done and aspire to do someday, to see their beloved Bears take down their biggest rivals. This game was already regarded as one of the best this season, considering it was the lone game to open the 100th NFL season, and the long-standing rivalry in general. Add into the mix the 1986 World Champs were brought out onto the field to a well-deserved standing ovation. There wasn’t a better atmosphere for such a high-profile game, but unfortunately, it didn’t fit the bill.
Defense meets expectations
You’re going to get tired of hearing this unless you’re a Bears fan, but Chicago had the best defense last season. They were only expected to get better with last year serving as a time for chemistry and experience for guys like Khalil Mack. The Bears defensive unit was the most healthy it’s been in a while, and they were hungry. All in all, Chicago got to Aaron Rodgers five times (Leonard Floyd had two sacks, Akiem Hicks, Aaron Lynch, and Roy Robertson-Harris each had one sack). Mack, Roquan Smith, and Eddie Jackson also had one tackle for a loss of yards. Those guys did their jobs and got some help with the conservative play of new Packers coach Matt LeFleur.
It was expected the Packers were going to run a lot more than years past, and that worked to the strength of Chicago. The first handful of drives for the Packers resulted in zilch. In fact, Green Bay had a total of negative yards at one point and they finished the opening quarter with a goose egg on the board.
I was happily surprised to see how well Ha-Ha Clinton Dix and Buster Skrine played considering they hadn’t gotten many reps on the field. Rodgers is always a threat to expand the field with his precision and arm strength, but for the most part, the Bears shut that down. Rodgers was able to put together an impressive quick drive with a deep bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling with an open hole in the secondary, but that’s as good as it got for him. Again, part of that was due to Green Bay resorting to running the ball more, though Rodgers still had the ability to call audibles.
Offense fell flat
Mitchell Trubisky took a big step in the right direction last season by upping all his stats and reducing his TD/Int ratio along the way. This season is supposed to be considered quite important, though not necessarily make or break, considering he’s still got a couple more years on his rookie contract. This season opener wasn’t good, to say the least. He showed very brief moments of potential, but for the most part, either under-threw or overthrew numerous passes. Late in the fourth quarter, Trubisky was looking good, putting together a solid drive, but ended it with a lofted pass into the end zone. That ball was picked off by none other than Adrian Amos, a recent Bear, which made it sting even more.
This disappointment wasn’t all due to Trubisky’s mediocrity, however. The Bears had a promising drive stall and hit reverse due to multiple dumb penalties. Most of those were on the offensive line, having become gassed at that point by the revamped Packers defense. Trubisky still ended up being sacked five times, including Chicago’s last play. The penalties were so destructive, the Bears had 40 yards to gain for a first down, and they didn’t even get half of that in three plays. That sums it all up right there.
One glimmer of hope was the play of Allen Robinson, who entered this season the healthiest he’s been in quite some time. He was targeted 13 times, caught seven passes and ended up with 102 yards. The Bears in general accumulated 228 yards through the air with Trubisky throwing 26-45 with no score and the detrimental interception.
Pineiro got his chance
I hate to bring this up and cause flashbacks, but the Bears have been searching for a kicker since last season. They narrowed down their candidates and throughout the preseason, Eddie Pineiro was given the starting job. Early in the game, when the score remained tied, Pineiro was given his chance to shine.
Some might view it as not that crucial a kick, and they’d be right to some degree. It wasn’t like he was kicking a last-second field goal to either win or lose, it was simply to put points on the board. Bears fans around Soldier Field and those huddled around their TVs held their breath. The snap was good, the kick looked good, though it appeared tailing off to the left, but wound up being easily successful. Pineiro passed his first test with flying colors. Had he missed that, and everything else went as it did, Chicago would’ve been shut out in a much more disappointing (if that’s even possible) game than what transpired.
Most teams are opting to not play their starters during the preseason, the Bears were one of them this year. That seemed evident with how gassed the O-Line looked, how inconsistent Trubisky was, and how questionable some of the play-calling ended up being. I think this serves as a wake-up call to the team and they’ll only progress from here. Bears fans have the right to be pissed, sad, disappointed, possibly even think their team will miss the playoffs, but I think it’s too early for judgments to be made. Another week of conditioning will help and everyone will learn from their mistakes. The Denver Broncos have an even more feared defense, so fixing that O-Line issue will be critical if they pose any chance on the road.
Taking a page of out Rodgers book, but applying it here,
“Bears Nation, RELAX and Bear Down.”