After that opening weekend loss against the Vikings, Packers fans were looking for a big improvement against the Bears and the team duly delivered, with a 27-10 victory.
That win, and defeat for the Vikings, has led sportsbooks to adjust their odds, and fans looking for the best sportsbook promotions will see that the Packers are once again the NFC North favorites. There is, of course, a long way to go and the Bears are not the toughest opponents out there, but Packers fans will be pleased that there were more positives than negatives to come out of the game.
Bigger workloads for Jones and Dillon
One of the few bright spots of the Week 1 defeat was the performance of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, who didn’t touch the ball enough against Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they had a lot more to do against Chicago, increasing their combined touches from 23 to 37 and 237 total yards. Jones had 15 carries for 132 yards and three catches, scoring both a receiving and a rushing touchdown, while Dillon registered 18 carries for a total of 61 yards and one catch.
Without Davante Adams, the Packers were always going to need more balance in their offense, and it looks as though Dillon and Jones will be able to provide that in the weeks ahead.
Rodgers Back to his Best
Aaron Rodgers enjoys playing against the Bears, and these familiar opponents enabled him to return to something like his best after a disappointing performance against Minnesota. He finished with 234 passing yards and two touchdowns, throwing passes to eight different players. That third stat is particularly important. Without Adams, it is vital that the Packers bring along their other receivers as quickly as possible and Rodgers is playing a huge role in their development.
Offensive Line Improvement
The absence of Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari significantly weakened the Packers’ offensive line in Week 1, putting additional pressure on Rodgers. While Bakhtiari remains frustratingly absent, Jenkins was back, and he had a steadying effect on the line. Royce Newman moved over to right guard while Jake Hanson dropped onto the bench and Jenkins made a solid return to action.
Jenkins’ importance to the Packers cannot be underestimated. In 2020, he played four different positions, allowing only one sack in 733 pass blocking snaps. In 2021, with Bakhtiari unavailable, he allowed only two sacks in 496 passing snaps. If Bakhtiari is able to return soon, the Packers offensive line will once again be at full strength, which is great news for the developing Green Bay offense.
Allen Lazard Back
Packers’ fans were also pleased to see the return of Allen Lazard. Effectively, the leader of the wide receiver group, he was targeted three times and scored one touchdown. His presence and experience take much of the pressure off rookies Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.
Rushing Defense Shaky
Defensively, however, there were some obvious concerns. Despite being well beaten, the Bears enjoyed a fruitful game with their rushing offense. They rushed for 180 yards from 27 carries, with David Montgomery having an outstanding night, recording 122 yards from 15 carries. Admittedly, the Packers’ rush defense has been an issue for years, but it is something that they need to address as there are much stronger rushing teams out there than the Bears.
Packers Fumbles Becoming a Problem
An NFL team is a complicated machine with many moving parts, and there appears to be a new problem for head coach Matt LaFleur to tinker with over the next few days.
Both against the Vikings and the Bears, Green Bay appear to have developed a fumble problem. Last week, Aaron Rodgers was guilty of uncharacteristically losing a fumble when he was sacked, and then in Week 2, the Packers fumbled three times against the Bears.
None of those three fumbles were particularly excusable. In the first, Rodgers and Dillon got their wires crossed on a simple handoff, and their error was compounded when the Bears recovered the ball and went on to score a field goal. The second came when center Josh Myers’ snap hit wide receiver Christian Watson as he was in motion across the formation, passing in front of Aaron Rodgers. Then there was a fumbled punt return from Amari Rodgers, although in this case, the Packers were able to recover.
Four fumbles in two games is not in itself a huge issue, but the nature of the fumbles is of concern and LaFleur will be keen to ensure that it doesn’t become a trend.