Bears fall flat against the Packers

Jacob VanZuiden, Courier Staff

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For any Chicago Bears fan, opening night against the Green Bay Packers wasn’t quite what anyone was expecting. After exceeding all expectations last season under new offensive-minded head coach Matt Nagy, finishing the season with a 12-4 record and arguably the top defense in the league, fans had their minds set on a Super Bowl run in 2019. That all started at Soldier Field last Thursday night against their division rivals out of Wisconsin, except it had quite a different outcome than many had envisioned.

The Bears’ offense, which impressively finished as the ninth highest scoring offense in the league a season ago, never showed up. While the defense played their hearts out, holding two-time All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers and company to just 10 points, the Monsters of the Midway couldn’t even find the end-zone. Their only score of the entire game ended up being a 38-yard field goal. In a game where seemingly nothing could go right for Bears’ quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and his comrades, Chicago fell in defeat by a score of 10-3.

For anyone who’s grown accustomed to watching high-scoring offensive slugfests that today’s NFL has grown into, it seemed that these two teams had turned back the clock. Trubisky, who many had pegged to take a big step forward this season in year two of Nagy’s system, was atrocious. The third-year signal caller out of the University of North Carolina finished the game completing just 26 of 45 passes (57 percent) with zero touchdowns and a back-breaking interception that sealed the game for the Packers late in the fourth quarter. However, Trubisky wasn’t the only one to blame for the team’s laughable performance. Shaky play by the Bears’ offensive line and suspect play-calling by Nagy were just the icing on the cake.

In 2018, Chicago’s offense averaged 29.2 rushing attempts per game (sixth-most in the league). Thursday night, Nagy opted to run the ball just 15 times (twice in the second half) in a game where his team trailed by just one point. And no, the clock was never an issue. Even more shockingly, Nagy decided to give veteran running back Mike Davis a team-high 11 touches out of the backfield while their shiny new toy in David Montgomery watched from the sidelines. Montgomery, who was selected with the Bears’ top pick in this past April’s draft, touched the ball just seven times, but he looked good in limited opportunity.

After the conclusion of the game, nobody seemed quite as disappointed as the Bears’ starting quarterback himself, whose body language looked as if he’d just lost a close Super Bowl battle.

“It’s really frustrating because it’s very uncharacteristic of this offense, especially the way we’ve been practicing. But the type of guys we’ve got in there, obviously we had our defense, special teams battled all night to keep us in it,” Trubisky said during the post-game press conference. “So we’ve just got to continue to pull together, look within ourselves and find answers to make sure we’re not feeling like this again.”

Not every takeaway from the offense, however, was a negative. Perhaps the lone bright spot from their heartbreaking loss was wide receiver Allen Robinson, who signed a three-year, $42 million contract with the team last offseason. Coming into his second season in the Windy City, Robinson started the year with a bang, toasting Packers’ cornerback Tony Brown the entire game on his way to seven receptions for 102 yards. Still just 26 years old, Robinson could prove that he’s still got his best football ahead of him as the season progresses. It must be remembered that he’s already got one 80-reception, 1,400-yard season under his belt as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015.

On the defensive side of things, Chicago’s menacing front seven picked up right where they left off in 2018, terrorizing Rodgers for five sacks. The Bears also surrendered only 10 points and 213 offensive yards, a remarkable feat for a team whose offense couldn’t stay on the field, picking up just nine first-downs in the first three quarters. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd looked the part of an elite pass-rusher, finishing the game with two sacks of his own as he continues to develop in his fourth professional season. It appears that the term “regression” is non-existent in their vocabulary.

However, at the end of the day, it’s only one game. While it was undoubtedly an ugly defeat, NFL teams play 16 regular-season games for a reason. After bouncing back to a tune of 12-3 following an opening-night loss to the Packers last season, they’ll look to do just that when the travel to Denver for a week two matchup versus their old defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.