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With only 250 yards of total offense, the Packers snuck by the Bears last Thursday on the strength of one long pass. Can they have such luck at home on Sunday against Minnesota? Improbable.
Last Thursday, every NFL fan that had waited a long offseason to watch the oldest rivalry in football, Bears vs. Packers, saw a game they could have caught under the Friday night lights at their local high school.
Both offenses took turns stinking up Soldier Field during the 2019 kickoff game, amassing just over 500 yards total from scrimmage and converting only 5 of 27 third downs.
With both teams deciding to skip the idea of starting athletes playing much in the preseason, the results of the coaching maneuver were obvious in the contest.
Not One For The Books
After the game, coaches and players of both teams reacted dramatically different from the ugly game.
“Three points is ridiculous,” Bears’ head coach Matt Nagy said, “Any Chicago Bears fan should be upset.”
Meanwhile, in the Packers locker room beneath Soldier Field QB Aaron Rodgers and new Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur held each other joyfully in the middle of a Packer mosh pit of celebrating players, farting and giggling and handing out game balls.
Later in a more sober moment, LaFleur, a 39-year old head coach with only one year experience as an offense of coordinator in Tennessee, said something coach-like to the Wisconsin press.
Something like: “A lot to improve on.”
You could almost see Rogers giving him a thumbs up with a grin from across the room.
Bearing The Truth
Also nearly drenched in championship Gatorade, Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine had something to be proud of on Thursday, a Green Bay defense who shut down an excellent Bears rush offense of 2018, giving up only 46 yards on 15 carries.
Green Bay’s D also forced Bear’s quarterback Mitch Trubisky back to his rookie year and a 61.2 quarterback rating, a big disappointment for the horde of Bear fans collected by Lake Michigan anticipating something else.
When Matt LaFleur says “a lot to improve on,” does he know where to start?
Green Bay committed 10 penalties in the game. They had only 13 first downs. They converted only 16.67% of their third downs, 60% of their throws, and finished the game with a 2.1 rushing average.
Is it possible they can repeat that performance beat any other team in the NFL this season?
Possible, yes. Likely, no.
It’s hard to imagine how Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota Vikings do not take advantage of a neophyte head coach in LaFleur and the Packers’ complete absence of a running game on Sunday, pressing Rogers into his superhero mode from the start.
If Packers’ wide receiver Davante Adams at his receiving sidekicks can infiltrate a Vikings’ secondary that gave former NFL MVP Matt Ryan and league’s best receiver Julio Jones almost nothing until garbage time, it will be no mean feat.
Yes, the Packers defense shined against a third-year quarterback with accuracy issues and an over-hype Chicago running game, but it’ll be a different physical test on Sunday in Lambeau when they line up against Minnesota.
Both teams will have last year’s week two overtime tie on their minds, but the Vikings will be coming off a week one full-team win that dominated their opponent on both sides of the ball.
The Packers will be riding a lucky victory against a talented team who played poorly after spending too much time reading their own headlines Chicago this offseason.