The Green Bay Packers (1-0) defeated the Chicago Bears (0-1), 10-3, in the season opener Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago. My initial thoughts on the win:
- That was a pretty brutal way to open the NFL’s 100th season, if we’re being honest. The Packers have a lot of room for improvement, but there were encouraging signs in all phases. All that matters is they beat a division opponent on the road and will take a 1-0 record back to Lambeau Field for next week’s meeting with the Vikings.
- It’s going to be a good while until this offense starts rolling. As was expected, the offense, save for a few flashes of brilliance, is definitely a work in progress. Matt LaFleur and company were never able to achieve the level of balance they’re looking for, and Aaron Rodgers looked underwhelming on any play where he didn’t get the ball out of his hands immediately.
- The offseason acquisitions were worth it. The defense was there all night long to pick up the slack. Is it possible the Bears’ offense was shaking off some rust, too? Sure, don’t let that detract from the best performance by a Green Bay defense in recent memory. In their respective Packer debuts, Za’Darius Smith notched a sack and a tackle for loss, Preston Smith had one and a half, Adrian Amos made a game-sealing interception and Darnell Savage flashed his speed and playmaking abilities from his safety spot. Sweeping statements after one game are never wise, but it was certainly the type of performance that gives one hope for where this defense can go the rest of the year.
- Kenny Clark is a grown man. That is all.
- Jimmy Graham might finally be the red zone threat everyone thought he’d be when the Packers signed him. His touchdown grab over a defender showed he still has the ability to use his size in the end zone, which could be an extremely valuable asset for Rodgers going forward.
- At least three remnants of the Mike McCarthy era remain: third down sacks, the inability to snap the ball before the play clock has run down to one second, and head-scratching crunch time clock management. Green Bay allowed four third down sacks in the game, equal to nearly 20 percent of their total for all of last season. The Bears defensive front was able to jump the snap pretty much all night because the play clock wound all the way down. And the Packers opted to throw on 2nd down with less than two minutes remaining, preserving a Bears timeout and eventually leading to a 13-second three-and-out.