GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers, with Matt LaFleur at the helm, beat the Chicago Bears on Sunday night. In other news, water is wet, grass is green and grocery prices are ridiculous.
LaFleur is 7-0 against the Bears.
Aaron Rodgers is 23-5 against the Bears.
Green Bay has won 14 consecutive home games in regular-season play and 13 straight in primetime.
LaFleur improved his regular-season record to 40-11. Only Paul Brown (47) and Chuck Knox (50) needed fewer games to record win No. 40. The key has been avoiding back-to-back losses. LaFleur’s cliché’ “hit the reset button” works. The Packers have not dropped consecutive regular-season games in the same season under LaFleur.
“It feels great to win again,” he said. “It’s hard in this league. But I think it speaks to our players, our coaches, just the mind-set that we have here. You’ve got to ride the wave. Handling success is a big hurdle, just like handling failure and you’ve got to constantly learn and be resilient and just take it one game at, a time, one day at a time, just try to perform to the best of your ability each and every day. It’s a credit to those guys in the locker room that really truly buy into that mentality.”
The Packers bounced back because their offense, especially on the ground, was much better than it was vs. the Vikings, and their pass defense eliminated the mental errors that plagued them against Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson.
“This was better than Week 1,” Rodgers said, “but we’ve got to be better than this if we want to compete with Tampa.”
Before we hit the reset button, here is our Week 2 report card.
It was just a ho-hum 19-of-25 for 234 yards and two touchdowns for Aaron Rodgers. Aside from a 55-yard bomb to Sammy Watkins on the game-clinching drive and a play-extending 20-yard missile to Randall Cobb, it was a lot of dink-and-dunk. Eight of his completions were thrown behind the line of scrimmage, including the superb touchdown “pass” to Aaron Jones in which AJ Dillon plowed through star linebacker Roquan Smith at the goal line for the key block. By our count, Rodgers was 5-of-6 on passes thrown 10-plus yards downfield; the only incompletion was the potential touchdown to Allen Lazard on the opening series. About 60 percent of the yards came after the catch. There were no drops.
The pass protection was mostly strong. Trevis Gipson lined up against right tackle Elgton Jenkins and had two sacks. Probably only one of those was Jenkins’ fault. For a guy who hadn’t played in 10 months following a torn ACL, he seemed to get better as the night progressed. No quarterback on Earth has ever been so happy about one of his linemen giving up a sack as Rodgers. Left tackle Yosh Nijman was excellent aside from the third-down sack he allowed to Robert Quinn on the third series. Left guard Jon Runyan practiced only once all week but was solid.
Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 33 rushes for 193 yards. Jones was the hot hand. In one of those oddities, the blocking was a lot better on Jones’ plays.
With 15 carries for 132 yards (8.8 average), Jones was given an inch and took a mile. By our count, he forced 11 missed tackles and gained 92 yards after contact. PFF credited Jones with 11 missed tackles and 85 yards after contact. Dillon carried 18 times for 61 yards (3.4 average); he did most of it on his own with five missed tackles and 53 yards after contact.
Center Josh Myers and Nijman are two big guys who can move. Time and again, the receivers delivered key blocks to deliver extra yards. Back home at right guard, Royce Newman was flagged for a senseless holding penalty; his initial block was excellent and Dillon was already into the second level. Rodgers took the blame for the botched handoff that resulted in a turnover. Myers played well other than snapping the ball early and right into receiver Christian Watson.
Justin Fields isn’t Kirk Cousins. He’s not Tom Brady. The pass protection isn’t good enough. His perimeter weapons aren’t good enough. But we’re not grading on a curve. Fields was 7-of-11 for 70 yards and one interception. Including sacks (two by Preston Smith, one by Rashan Gary), the Bears managed a woeful 48 net passing yards.
Their best receiver, Darnell Mooney, had 1,055 yards last season. That’s 62.1 yards per game. He had 66.1 yards less than that on Sunday. The Bears made only one play, a 30-yard completion to Equanimeous St. Brown on a flea-flicker against Jaire Alexander on the opening series. Alexander got his revenge with the clinching interception.
Defensive tackle Kenny Clark has zero sacks in two games but probably 10 pressures.
Green Bay’s run defense stinks. It couldn’t stop Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison last week, and it really couldn’t stop David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert on Sunday. They combined for 160 yards on just 19 carries. Montgomery was a bowling ball and Green Bay’s defenders were the pins. By our count, he broke eight tackles and gained 82 yards after contact. On his 28-yard run early in the fourth quarter, safety Adrian Amos missed at the line of scrimmage and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and safety Darnell Savage missed, too. On the next play, Herbert had clear sailing for 27 more.
Campbell, an All-Pro linebacker last year, missed two tackles for the second consecutive week. Veteran defensive tackle Jarran Reed, a key offseason addition, struggled. Preston Smith did have a key third-down stop in the first half, and he and Reed were part of the huge goal-line stand in the fourth quarter. Those plays save the grade.
Panicking over preseason results is stupid. Panicking over preseason special teams results is especially stupid. Despite the preseason snafus, first-year coordinator Rich Bisaccia has quickly made his mark. It’s not a great unit but it’s provided positive contributions.
Kickoff team: Six kicks, with Chicago starting at the 29, 20, 15, 25, 22 and 19. Dallin Leavitt had two tackles, including the one at the 15.
Punt team: Pat O’Donnell kicked twice. One was a 72-yard touchback and the other was a 50-yarder that delivered a fair catch at the 10 thanks to Rudy Ford’s work at gunner.
Kickoff return: Amari Rodgers had one return for 24 yards.
Punt return: Rodgers had a 20-yard return, an excellent combination of his skill and superb blocking. He did muff one, which he recovered. Leavitt was flagged for holding, too.
Matt LaFleur was kicking himself for not getting the ball to Aaron Jones against the Vikings. So, Jones got the ball 18 times for 170 yards and two touchdowns vs. Chicago. Defensively, everybody from LaFleur to coordinator Joe Barry to the players were lamenting the communication errors vs. Minnesota. There weren’t many vs. the Bears, who managed a feeble 48 net passing yards.
Situational football is critical, and the Packers won big time. Green Bay was 5-of-9 on third down and 3-of-5 in the red zone. Chicago was 1-for-8 on third and fourth down and 1-for-2 in the red zone. After a dismal first drive, Barry’s defense didn’t allow another first down until midway through the third quarter.
Aaron Jones vs. the Chicago Bears
Packers 27, Bears 10
Aaron Jones can’t be stopped (with Jones photo gallery)