CHICAGO – Aaron Rodgers couldn’t have said it any more matter-of-factly.
Because the truth is straightforward.
“What we did on defense, I think we showed the league and folks watching that we’re not just an offensive football team anymore,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got a defense.”
It’s a good thing, because Rodgers and the Packers’ offense were nothing special in the 10-3 season-opening win over the Bears at Soldier Field on Thursday night.
Taking on one of the league’s vaunted defenses in Chicago for the debut of new Head Coach Matt LaFleur’s offense proved to be a tall order, which was anticipated going in.
But Rodgers and LaFleur still expected better and took their share of the blame. They know there’s plenty to work on, but the two-time MVP quarterback’s face just kept lighting up every time he talked about the Packers’ defensive effort.
“Yeah, that was fun to watch,” he said. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like that.”
Sometimes the truth hurts, too, and Rodgers had every right to say that. The distance the Packers’ defense has traveled in 17 games under the coordination of Mike Pettine and the personnel changes of GM Brian Gutekunst is extensive.
Rodgers even harkened back to a victory over the Bears by the same score, 10-3, back in the 2010 regular-season finale. That one, of course, got the Packers into the playoffs and on their way to a Super Bowl title. Rodgers called this one “meaningful as well.”
“It was one of those NFC North throwback wins,” he said.
The Packers don’t want their offense to sit in throwback mode too long, though. Starting a game with three straight three-and-outs, with two sacks, for minus-12 total yards is no regular recipe for success.
Rodgers’ thought as the second quarter began was “it can’t get any worse.” It did get better, for two scoring drives at least, and another that didn’t produce points but got the Packers out of a field-position hole.
Penalties didn’t help. Rodgers wants to get the ball to Davante Adams more. LaFleur said he needs to stay more committed to the run game early.
All that is for next week, after the Packers catch their breath a bit following this whirlwind of cutting the roster and playing the opener in a span of six days.
The Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears kicked off the NFL's 100th season at Soldier Field.