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Thursday evening’s win over the Bears was uplifting. It was both a team effort and an encouraging sign that there’s ability and potential in this assemblage of personnel.

The snap counts are in, and in most cases they verify which players seemed to be on the rise during a training camp and preseason that was conducted largely out of public view.

Starting with that sterling group of defensive backs, four guys were out there for all 73 defensive plays: Jaire Alexander, Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Tramon Williams. Also providing solid play were: Raven Greene (56 snaps), Kevin King (42) and Tony Brown (27).

After one game, we can rest easily, as Darnell Savage is for real – an excellent usage of the team’s 21st overall selection. The coaches knew it all along, and now we know it: he’s electrifying. Amos was as advertised. Another pleasant revelation: 36-year-old Tramon Williams still has game. Kevin King (five tackles) looked good as he’s being eased back into action, and it’s telling that Raven Greene was entrusted with 77% of the defensive playing time. Everyone in the group was aggressive and even the tackling was sound.

On the defensive line, the TV commentators expected fatigue to set in, but the Green Bay pass rush just got stronger as the game wore on. Preston and Za’Darius Smith, in on all but one and all but six plays respectively, are marvelously fit 26-year-old athletes who can go the distance. They combined for 2 ½ sacks and provided continuous pressure all game long.

And by the way, for those of you (everyone) who dismissed the notion that Mike Daniels had a fitness problem, did you notice that the departed guard Justin McCray had the biggest gut on the team after Daniels was let go? Fitness and athleticism aren’t optional in the Gutekunst-LaFleur era.

The hole created by the injury to Oren Burks was nowhere in evidence. Pending film review, I assume that’s where Greene got most of his action.

Jimmy Graham hurdles over Bears defender

Sep 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham (80) hurdles Chicago Bears free safety Eddie Jackson (39) in front of Bears inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (59) and Bears strong safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) in the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

It appears that it will be tight-end-by-committee this year for the Packers, with Robert Tonyan and Jace Sternberger vying for the permanent starter’s spot next year. Jimmy Graham made two crucial plays in his 35 snaps, Marcedes Lewis had two catches in his 34 snaps, and Tonyan made a big play in his 20 snaps – that’s 72 of Aaron’s 203 passing yards going to the TEs. Since there were 64 offensive snaps, that tells me the two-tight-end formation was utilized about 25 times.

The O-line had a rough night against the best pass rush they’ll probably see all year. Maybe they needed some rest, as Bulaga, Billy Turner, Linsley, Taylor and Bakhtiari all were out there for every snap. At least two of the five sacks of Rodgers, however, were not the fault of his blockers.

Unfortunately, those blockers didn’t open anything up for the running backs. Aaron Jones was out there for 38 snaps (59%), Jamaal Williams for 26, and Dan Vitale for 11. I expect the run game to steadily improve, and hope that Jones’ time on the field increases. My only question: where were all the men-in-motion, options, and disguises we’ve been promised?

The receiver situation will be sorting itself out over the next several games. Davante Adams of course was out there on almost all 64 offensive snaps – credit the Bears with holding him to four catches for 36 yards. Marquez Valdes-Scantling took 66% of the snaps, and had the game’s biggest play – a 47-yard reception made possible by the best play action and disguise of the evening.

Trevor Davis got 30% of the snaps and got free for an important 28-yard catch. Though I show Geronimo Allison as participating in half the offensive plays, he recorded no stats. Jake Kumerow saw only token action. The running backs accounted for only three catches and 15 yards. The pass game leaves a lot to be desired at this early stage of the season.

Side Notes

Aaron Rodgers smiles after win over Bears

Sep 5, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) smiles as he walks off the field after defeating the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel via USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Rodgers is likely going to come in for a good amount of criticism concerning his 64 snaps. I believe he’s picked up several bad habits over the last few years, which he’s yet to address or correct. This isn’t a McCarthy-based problem or a LaFleur-caused transformational challenge. Aaron needs to get back to the fundamentals, to establish more self-discipline, and to adhere to the script. He needs to minimize the ad-libbing and pull the trigger.

Is it possible that the Packers came out of this black-and-blue-division encounter with no serious injuries? Things are shaping up nicely – following a 10-day preparation period – for a win over the Vikings. Congrats to Matt LaFleur and his coaches for a good start.

General manager Brian Gutekunst, who handles criticism with aplomb, has got to be enjoying this win. It doesn’t happen without Smith and Smith, Amos, and Savage.

This shouldn’t be thought of as an improving defense over Mike Pettine’s group of last year. It’s essentially a different formulation, as I believe six of the 11 starters are new. They showed the nation that they can be a dominant force in the NFL in 2019.

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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37 Comments

  1. Stiggy September 6, 2019

    Spot on analysis rob.

  2. Howard September 6, 2019

    You about covered everything Rob. I would add you have to credit Gutekunst for using a pick last year on a punter. Scott really did flip the field several times making the Bears start out with some poor field position. Last year the bears were the #1 ranked team in starting field position on drives. That helps an offense. Except for the not coming in from out of bounds penality did the Packers STs have any other penalties? Last year a Packer ST play could not be completed without 1, 2, or sometimes 3 penalties on the Packers. Packers STs, at least in this game appear more disciplined.

    1. Stiggy September 6, 2019

      Discipline is a big thing I noticed all around. We had some holding penalties (which can be forgiven against chicago) and a couple procedural things like the false start on Rodgers but it was a fairly clean game all around for the pack. The penalty totals were higher than they should have been given they purposely took a delay of game or two for punting position and they also had a pretty weak pi call against tramon williams.

      Also liked having timeouts left before half time as opposed to the usual blow 2 timeouts in the 1st q to avoid delay of game calls.

  3. Kato September 6, 2019

    I guess I didn’t view Tramon Williams game the same way. But other than that, yeah I would tend to agree. Kevin King amazingly came out uninjured, but I am sure he will hurt his back tying his shoes tomorrow.

    Totally agree with Rodgers needing to get back to fundamentals. He didn’t play great, but he probably faced pressure before 2.5 seconds on a third of the snaps. There was one particular play where I saw the blitz coming and thought to myself he needed to get that ball out fast. I know he had to have seen it coming, but yet held onto the ball and took a negative play. Rodgers would be best served having Lane Taylor benched, what a wreck that guy is. Billy Turner looked ok, but not sure he looked like a dude comensurate of his pay level.

    1. PF4L September 6, 2019

      I didn’t view some of the things the same way also, but hey, they played one complete game….PROVEN.

  4. PF4L September 6, 2019

    Let’s keep things in perspective, week one.
    ***
    Credit when due….Gute had a great night. Sans Billy T, his 2019 free agents came through and made the plays that helped win the game, they showed up to ball, how cool is that. Tell me it’s not refreshing to see free agents making plays. When it happens, i’ll acknowledge it. So far, so good Gute.
    ***
    As i’ve said before, this was a big game and a huge win for the Pack. As expected, the offense struggled against a strong front 7. I don’t have much doubt this offense will improve on a weekly basis all season long. I’m still concerned about the O-line, but the bears front 7 is no joke so i give them a pass this game.
    ***
    As far as the defense. The bears offense isn’t exactly putting fear in defenses around the league, but the bottom line is if you hold any NFL team under 260 yards and 3 points, you’re taking care of your business.
    ***
    Other than that, i wish some people would go to Green Bay and maybe teach Rodgers the finer points of being a successful QB in this league. I mean…10 points? Get your head outa your ass Aaron!

    1. Larry September 6, 2019

      Umm, that Bear offense put the fear of God into the Philly D in the playoff game.

    2. Howard September 6, 2019

      The offensive line did struggle across the line, however my feeling was Bulaga and Turner were the best of the bunch and that includes Bakhtiari and Linsley. Just my just my half assed observation.

      1. Stiggy September 6, 2019

        Or the the bears d line excel? Probably a little of both.

      2. Kato September 7, 2019

        Howard I think I saw TJ Lang tweet about how well Bulaga played

  5. Ferris September 6, 2019

    Marcedes Lewis 3 catches last SEASON…2 last night. Jimmy Graham 2 TDs last SEASON, 1 last night.
    I would guess Jenkins gets a start very soon. They won on the road against the Bears. Win 2-0, 3-0, 3-2, 10-3 just win baby. Pats won the Super Bowl 13-3, they still got the trophy even if they only scored 13 points.
    I don’t see a common comment contributor, is he saving it all up for this week?

  6. rebelgb September 6, 2019

    There is almost a collective sigh of relief throughout this whole team. It makes you wonder how long ago MM should have actually been let go? Its like a group of people who were told they were terminally ill only to find out a new drug had come out that might give them hope….. I have said for 3 years that MM was hurting this football team. I am convinced now more than ever that I was right.

    1. PF4L September 6, 2019

      I agree rebel, just one game in and it seems this team has a personality, also a team chemistry we haven’t seen in a long time. At least that’s the way i saw it, albeit one game.

    2. Ferris September 6, 2019

      More like 5 years . It’s a damn shame.

      1. PF4L September 7, 2019

        Since the Seattle debacle.

        1. Ferris September 7, 2019

          Exactly, that very moment is when it should have happened.

  7. Eric Schmidt September 6, 2019

    I know a lot of people Including myself were pissed when the Packers didn’t land Khalil Mack last year. But looking back on it now had we gotten him we would not have Darnell Savage and Rashan Gary cause those picks would have probably been traded away. Plus the packers probably not been able to afford Adrian Amos, Za’Darius Smith, and Preston Smith. When you consider that GB would still have Safety troubles. I do believe that GB is in a better state this year with all those players vs just 1 Khalil Mack. So i believe it was a blessing in disguise. To me having 4 really good players plus one currently Unknown with tons of potential is better than one Great player. Just a thought

  8. MMSUCKS September 6, 2019

    Good game last night for a win. It was ugly on offense, but the defense was stellar for the most part. There seemed to be a handful of easy passes that Trubisky should have seen, but missed. I am certain that some of that was caused by the excellent and relentless pursuit by the Packers D line. I have not seen that level of intensity and speed on a Packers defense for about 10 years! While that is a breath of fresh air, the offense for the most part shit the bed. Rodgers looked out of sorts (especially in the 1st quarter), that was to be somewhat expected. Especially after taking EVERY preseason game off . . . But while this somewhat alarms me, I am trusting that much of that was rust. Furthermore, I would not want to have to face the Bears D line. They totally disrupted every thing at the LOS. Some of this can be cleaned up, while some of it may just be the talent level on the Packers OL last night. Time will tell. Standout’s to me were; P K Scott, both Smith’s and perhaps Savage. Graham hurdling a defensive player surprised me as well. It just seemed like the team wanted to win. That, to me portends something good may be going on in the Packers locker room with the current players and coaches. Perhaps this team can finally get back to playing some serious football again . . . at least now, it appears they may want to . . . Paradigm shift on the horizon?

    1. Kato September 6, 2019

      Easy on crowning the Packers defense lol. There was plenty to be happy with for sure, but I am not declaring them a top 10 defense after one game. But admittedly they did look fast and athletic at all levels. I wonder how they would stand up to a more physical smashmouth team?

      1. PF4L September 6, 2019

        I don’t think he’s crowning them, just acknowledging their performance. He’s right, they played aggressive and really quick. They could have wrapped up better, especially on Trubisky (that dude looks slippery). We judge this team on a game by game basis, if a segment of the team plays well, it deserves to be acknowledged, if they play like shit, that also will be acknowledged. We’ll find out more as the season goes and they play better offenses. This team will struggle at times, on both sides through the season. But i like this teams energy, it just seems like there is something special brewing. I could be dead wrong, we’ll see.

        1. Kato September 6, 2019

          Pf4l are you feeling ill? This doesn’t sound like you to sound somewhat optimistic

          1. PF4L September 7, 2019

            My well went dry Kato, the doctor said no soda, the liquor stores were closed, and all i had to drink was some kool-aid.
            ***
            As critical as i am Kato, i always preached i would call it like i see and give credit when it’s due. I think you know me to be true to my word.

      2. MMSUCKS September 7, 2019

        KATO, Hardly crowning them! Just happy to see some actual defensive players for a change. Will it continue? Against a better QB1? That is unknown . . .

  9. Nick September 6, 2019

    Rodgers needs more discipline. Stop throwing off your back foot. TD to Graham was a side-armed lucky jump ball not a surgical strike by the most accurate QB in NFL history
    Who is QB coach these days. Why are we paying him?

    1. PF4L September 6, 2019

      Now were bitching about Rodgers on completed TD passes? lol….i love you guys.
      ***
      I don’t care if he throws a td pass while doing a head stand, Rodgers will be fine.

      1. MJ September 7, 2019

        Come on, man! He is no longer playing to his own potencial. He has accomplished a ton of personal feats, but it looks as he started acting complacent. Having been rather rusty to his own standards, and sometimes to those of more crappy QBs that made a living out of short quick passes as well, I would expect him to be eager to polish those details. And by that, I mean getting as many reps as possible with as many WRs as possible.
        Even if you are at the top of your field, you still need to keep rust off and learn from other people.

        1. PF4L September 7, 2019

          Rodgers will be fine.

    2. TyKo Steamboat September 6, 2019

      there was a flag on that play that’s why he lobbed it up like that, dummy

      1. PF4L September 7, 2019

        Not only that, he was throwing while his O-line was being pushed backed into him. Some people see the big picture.

      2. Apparently I’m a Dummy September 7, 2019

        Cmon man. No need for “dummy”. Read your comments several years and didn’t think you were like that. As another article in the website NOW explains there was a penalty BUT THE NETWORK DIDN’T POINT IT OUT. So, I didn’t know it was a free play. Still was a wacky throw even though I don’t object to a touchdown. And, my always brilliant friend, he still is throwing BS passes off his back foot and his mechanics suck on many, many throws.
        I love Rodgers and what he brings. Doesn’t mean he can’t improve greatly with more discipline.
        Peace and love

        1. Kato September 7, 2019

          They never said anything about a flag on the broadcast

  10. PF4L September 7, 2019

    If i’m a bear fan, i feel absolutely sick about that game…last season 12-4, COY, looking for a Super Bowl appearance? Then you lose to the Packers at home in the first game? I would feel sick…much like how the viking fans felt when philly slammed the window shut on their necks in the playoffs, losing all dreams of going to a Super Bowl game. They haven’t been the same since.

  11. MMSUCKS September 7, 2019

    For more perspective, here is how I feel today about the Packer Offense. Lane Taylor needs to wake up now! Billy Turner at this point (1 game) is NOT impressive. And Rodgers is just rusty. He should have take preseason snaps (regardless) to get up to REAL-TIME game speed.
    ********
    PFF noted yesterday that:
    “Coming out of the half, LaFleur told NBC Sunday Night Football reporter Michele Tafoya that they “needed to run the ball more in the second half.” That’s a bold strategy Cotton, especially for a team that’s up only four points and facing off against arguably the best run defense in the league. Subsequently, Green Bay went on to run the ball on 53.6% of their plays in the second half and averaged 2.5 yards per carry on those (ran the ball 20.7% of the time in the first half for 1.2 yards per carry). Overall, when Green Bay had five or more yards to go for the first down, they ran the ball 38.5% of the time (had lowest rate of runs in that scenario in 2018 at 27.8%). Not only was it predictable that they were going to run the ball in the second half, it was predictable as to what run scheme they’d use. Nearly every designed rush attempt was a zone concept. Whether it was inside zone (1.6 yards per carry) or outside zone (3.0 yards per carry), neither were successful and the run was not established. The Packers are just lucky they faced off against an offense that was abysmal. If LaFleur stands pat on his offense, things will get ugly quick.” . . .
    ********
    I couldn’t agree more.
    ********
    This is my stance regarding the offense. They are definitely a work in progress. With the caveat that says LaFleur needs to adjust to the team he is playing against, and just make sound adjustments! not just continue to bang his head against a brick wall if it is hurting. He OBVIOUSLY did that Thursday evening . . . He must still have one hell of a headache today.

    1. Kato September 7, 2019

      Varying opinions of Turner after one game. I thought he was decent, not great. Howard thought he was their best lineman along with Bulaga

      1. Howard September 7, 2019

        Kato, I thought the entire offensive line had big problems, Bulaga and Turner included. Turner was beat bad by Mack on the second drive and pushed into Rodgers. Mack may not have got the sack but Mack caused the sack by forcing Rodgers to move to the left and into the next wave of Bears. Turner later did give up a sack, but it was caused because the left side of the line collapsed fast and moved Rodgers off the spot into Turners responsibility.
        I looked at the game a couple of times on replay and felt Bulaga and Turner played the best, and that is not saying much. I gave Bulaga a slight advantage because tackles are usually on an island more than a guard. The offensive line from the center to the left really did collapse more than the right side in pass protection and the left side did not open holes for running lanes as well as (not saying much) the right side.
        Since then I saw that Pro Football Focus graded the top 5 Packer offensive players as follows: (1) Graham 67.2, (2) Turner 67.1, (3) Bulaga 66.2, (4) Tonyan 65.4, (5) MVS 65.0.
        As an example I think Bakhtiari was graded by PFF for last year in the upper 80s. I also think a 65 is an average player grade. So no one stood out on offense, Turner and Bulaga included. I understand why MMSUCKS says he is not impressed with Turner, however if you look at it fairly I think you have to name 2 or 3 other offensive lineman along with Taylor as not impressive in Thursday’s game before you name Turner.
        One thing I will say is if your offensive line can not work together and is below or just above average it is going to bring down the grade of the skill players and the other offensive linemen.
        The entire offensive line needs to pick it up or the entire offense will struggle including every skill player.

        1. Howard September 7, 2019

          To clarify. I shouldn’t say the offensive line has big problems, but they did struggle as in a big way for this game.

      2. MMSUCKS September 7, 2019

        Regarding Turner, I only watched the game in whole before writing this. Since then, I have watched numerous plays by the Packers offense. I agree with HOWARD. The whole offensive line was not playing well. After reviewing a few of Turners weaker moments, one of them that I saw in real time was actually caused by Turner and Bakhtiari not picking up one of the blitzers, which forced Rodgers into Turners area creating a sack. While not necessarily Turners fault, Turner was definitely bull-rushed backwards right into the area that Rodgers was forced to escape into because of the missed blitzer from Taylor/Bakhtiari. There was an amazing amount of aggressiveness created by the Bears at the LOS. Absolutely impressive.