Green Bay Packers: Thumbs up and down against the Bears


The Green Bay Packers defeated the Chicago Bears 31-23 to open the season at 1-0 for the first time since 2011. While it wasn’t really the ass kicking that Mike McCarthy or many analysts out there predicted, the Packers got the most important thing and that’s the win.

The game was definitely up and down for the Packers. There were a few bright spots in the opener, but there was also some poor play that the Packers will need to improve on as the season continues next week against the Seattle Seahawks. Here is who received thumbs up and down from the win against the Bears on Sunday.

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Thumbs Up

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James Jones
Nobody expected James Jones to replace everything that Jordy Nelson did for the Packers last season, but Jones did an amazing job of trying to replicate Nelson’s production today. Only with the team for a week, Jones caught four balls for 51 yards with two touchdowns. He would have had three touchdowns if it weren’t for a holding call that brought the play back.

It was evident that Aaron Rodgers still trusts Jones and it’s like they picked up where they left off. Jones won’t be the dominant receiver that Nelson is capable of being, but having Jones definitely improves that receiving group and the offense as a whole.

Aaron Rodgers
The defending MVP got off to a good start, completing 18 of 23 passes for 189 yards, three touchdowns and a 140.5 quarterback rating. Rodgers didn’t play the final two preseason games and any concern about him being rusty or timing issues with his receivers was quickly put to rest after this game.

The Packers are a popular pick to reach the Super Bowl, but they can only do that with a healthy and dominant Aaron Rodgers. He achieved that against the Bears.

Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers finished the game against his former team with five tackles and 1.5 sacks. Many are wondering when Peppers will start to show any decline in his game and he didn’t show any of that against the Bears.

The argument can be made that Peppers is the second most important defensive player behind Clay Matthews and they will be counting on him to contribute in a big way again this year both on and off the field. He’s off to a good starting doing just that.

Clay Matthews
The game was probably saved by Clay Matthews’s interception off of Jay Cutler. It was a huge and game defining play for a player the Packers are trying to move all around the field. And it worked on that particular play! Matthews also made some big plays throughout the game, including chasing Matte Forte down and saving a touchdown run.

Matthews finished the game with six tackles, but he was a force to be reckoned with throughout it. Any chance for this defense to be successful starts with Matthews.

Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Thumbs Down

Run Defense
Matt Forte had his way against the Packers defense as he finished the game with 141 yards rushing. Stopping the run was the key priority for the Packers defense this year and it’s the reason why Clay Matthews is playing inside linebacker on early downs. The Packers run defense did not come through this game and now they face a very strong running back in Marshawn Lynch next week.

Packers better figure something out by next Sunday to improve their run defense.

Sam Shields
Not sure if Sam Shields had the wrong cleats on against the Bears, but too many times it looked like he was falling down or getting faked out worse than a defender trying to cover Allen Iverson in his prime.

It also looked like Shields at times struggled against the bigger and more physical Alshon Jeffery, reminiscent from the Atlanta Falcons game last year where Shields struggled against Julio Jones. Shields will get a break next week as the Seahawks don’t have a big, physical receiver like Jeffery, but Shields needs to work on his technique and footwork as the season goes on.

He’s their No. 1 corner and he can’t get away with continuing to play like he did against the Bears.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
One of the few knocks from Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s rookie season last year was his inconsistent tackling. It was an issue that needed to be worked on and addressed before this season and if the first game is any indication, it hasn’t improved. One of the bigger missed tackles was when Clinton-Dix missed a tackle on a running Jay Cutler in the first quarter.

Clinton-Dix is sometimes the Packers’ last resort at stopping the ball carrier since he plays safety so it’s very crucial he improves his tackling. He has to bring his A-game going up against Jimmy Graham and Marshawn Lynch next week.

The Packers really struggled with penalties against the Bears on Sunday. The Packers committed ten penalties for 74 yards and many of them extended drives for the Bears and took away points for the Packers. If this were against a far superior opponent, the Packers may not have been able to overcome all the penalties. It’s an area they need to clean up.

Third-down defense
The Bears third-down efficiency was 11-for-17 and Jay Cutler was actually 8-10 passing on third down. The Packers have to improve that number so they can get off the field and give their offense more chances to score.

By extending drives because the defense can’t get off the field on third down, it wears your defense down, gives the opponent more chances to score, and takes away the Packers best weapon in Aaron Rodgers. The Packers defense has got to get off of the field more quickly.

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