Whatever the Green Bay Packers and head coach Matt LaFleur did differently this offseason, it worked. They entered Soldier Field determined to secure a victory against their NFC North division rival, the Chicago Bears. Mission accomplished.
LaFleur, motivated to break his two-game Week 1 losing streak that featured embarrassing blowouts, took a different approach to the preseason and training camp this year. He opted to play nearly every starter during the preseason, and his unique training methods set the tone for the regular season.
Their hard work paid off, with the Packers triumphing over the Bears by a score of 38-20. This victory sets a promising tone for what Green Bay hopes will be a successful season. Although the game had its challenges, particularly in the first half, the Packers persevered and emerged as victors.
Catch all the highlights, spotlights and other performers from the Green Bay Packers methodical victory over the Chicago Bears in Week 1.
Packers Offensive Spotlight: Aaron Jones
In the Packers’ opening drive, Aaron Jones carried the ball five times for a total of 24 yards, culminating in a touchdown. However, he didn’t see any action throughout the remainder of the half. When questioned about this at halftime, LaFleur cited the challenging down-and-distance situations they faced but acknowledged the need to involve Jones more.
Their adjustment was evident as the second half commenced, with Jones leading the Packers to back-to-back scoring drives in the third quarter. This surge provided them with a commanding 24-6 lead midway through the game. Unfortunately, Jones had to exit due to an injury after the second touchdown drive in the third, with 6:26 left on the clock. Nevertheless, he had already amassed an impressive 127 total yards (41 rushing and 86 receiving) and contributed two touchdowns.
Packers Defensive Spotlight: Darnell Savage
While Darnell Savage’s performance on Sunday may not have been spectacular, it was characterized by its steadiness and the absence of big mistakes. For Green Bay, this level of consistency is precisely what they require from the safety position, and it aligns with realistic expectations. In the game, Savage showcased his reliability, leading the team in tackles with a total of 10 (comprising five solo and five assisted tackles), even notching one for a loss.
Packers Rookie Spotlight: Lukas Van Ness
Plenty of rookies will be in the spotlight throughout the season, given their anticipated roles, but let’s kick off with first-rounder Lukas Van Ness. In impressive fashion, Van Ness secured his first career sack, chasing down Justin Fields in the opening field. As Fields rolled out of a bootleg, he spotted Van Ness waiting on the edge. Believing he could easily outrun the big man, Fields dashed towards the sideline. However, Van Ness kept pace, relentlessly pursuing Fields and ultimately sacking him. The athleticism displayed during this play was nothing short of remarkable, and it was evident even to viewers watching on television.
Most Surprising Packer: Keisean Nixon
Green Bay is renowned for its two standout cornerbacks in Rasul Douglas and Jaire Alexander. Yet, it’s worth noting the strong performance of Keisean Nixon in the slot. Nixon displayed physicality at the line of scrimmage and effectively shadowed his assigned receiver throughout the game. While he did yield a touchdown to Darnell Mooney, it appeared more a result of miscommunication than any shortcomings in his coverage skills.
Most Disappointing Packer: AJ Dillon
In contrast to Jones’ stellar performance, AJ Dillon experienced a continued decline. Dillon led the team with 13 carries but struggled to gain yards, finishing with just 19 in total (averaging 1.5 yards per carry). His tendency to run too upright and difficulty breaking tackles were evident issues. Dillon is expected to shoulder a significant load if Jones is sidelined, which raises concerns given his recent struggles. His lack of explosiveness and consistency in running the ball are areas of concern for the Packers.