The 2023 NFL season is here as the Green Bay Packers headed to the Windy City to take on the Justin Fields led Chicago Bears. The Bears had a busy offseason, trading away the number one overall pick to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a slew of draft picks and star wideout DJ Moore. Along with key signings of Tremaine Edmunds, Yannick Ngakoue, and D’onte Foreman, the Bears are looking to support their franchise guy in Justin Fields, hoping he will take the leap this season to being one of the NFL’s best.
Meanwhile, the Packers’ offseason is a different story. Aftering trading away Aaron Rodgers, the Packers decided now is the time to get younger, electing to not re-sign any of the veterans from last season. With the offense finally under his command, Love gets an immediate opportunity to stake his ownership of the Bears, as Favre and Rodgers did before him. Will the Packers continue their dominance over their little brother or will the Bears prove they’re turning things around early on?
The Packers defense made their presence known early on, stuffing, not one, but two sneaks on third and fourth down in Bears’ territory; forcing a turnover-on-downs on Chicago’s first possession of the game. The offense capitalized, as Love hit Romeo Doubs in the back of the endzone for the Packers’ first touchdown of the season. A hot start for the Packers offense.
The offense cooled down the remainder of the first half, punting the ball on three straight possessions, two of which were three-and-outs. Luckily, the defense bent but didn’t break, allowing only two field goals while forcing two punts. Stellar play by the defense ultimately bought the offense the time they needed to get things going again.
With excellent field position at their own 44 with 1:12 remaining, Love and the offense drove 22 yards to set up a 52-yard bomb from rookie kicker Anders Carlson. Carlson drilled the field goal as time expired, sending the Packers into the locker room up 10-6.
In the second half, the Packers caught fire. Offensively, Aaron Jones led the way on two straight touchdown drives to start the half, finding paydirt on both drives. Defensively, they allowed only five total yards across two drives, abruptly ending one of them on a combined strip sack of Fields by Kenny Clark and Devonte Wyatt, where the fumble was recovered by Rasul Douglas.
Leading 24-6 with a chance to put the game away, the offense was unable to capitalize on the fumble recovery, going three-and-out on the ensuing drive. This opened the door for Chicago to briefly flirt with a comeback; responding with a quick six-play drive capped off by a 20-yard pass to Darnell Mooney for a score. Khalil Herbert punched in the ensuing two-point conversion to cut into Green Bay’s lead, 24-14.
Any hope of a comeback was dashed soon after as Love swiftly responded with a scoring drive of his own, finding Doubs on a beautiful leaping catch over Bears corner Tyrique Stevenson for his second score of the day. On the following drive, Quay Walker slammed the door shut on any potential comeback with an interception. Walker undercut the pass intended for Mooney and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown, putting the Packers up 38-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Those would be the last meaningful points of the game. A pair of punts, a consolation touchdown on a two-yard rush by Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson, a Packers turnover-on-downs at the Bears’ 30, and the Bears running out the clock summarize the remainder of the game across its final 12-and-a-half minutes.
Players of the Game
- Jordan Love: A performance three seasons in the making, Love silenced many critics today with a stellar performance against Chicago. After a long offseason shrouded in doubt and criticisms, Love showed out in his second ever start. Love completed 15 passes on 27 attempts for 245 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 123.2 and a QBR of 73.4. Love missed a throw here and there but overall limited mistakes and played a fantastic first game as QB1 for the Packers.
- Aaron Jones: If there is one man who deserves player of the game more than Love, it’s Aaron Jones. On 11 touches, Jones racked up 127 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game following his second touchdown with a hamstring injury. For two of the Packers drives, Jones was the entirety of the offense, taking one pass 51 yards to set up a short score and taking another pass 35-yards for a score the next drive. Assuming Jones’ hamstring injury isn’t serious, Jones will be a vital part in the offense in the Jordan Love Era.
- Honorable Mention. Rashan Gary: Coming off of an ACL injury he sustained last season, Gary was limited to a snap count in this matchup. Despite the snap count, Gary still showed out. On 10 snaps, Gary pressured the QB on HALF of them. Gary also had a sack wiped out due to an offsides penalty. Once he’s healthy, Gary will be a force for the Packers defense.
- Aaron Jones suffered a hamstring injury in the third quarter and did not return to the game. This was likely nothing more than a precautionary action as he was seen giving his teammates an “I’m ok” gesture.
- Quay Walker suffered a head injury during the interception return. He did not return to the game and is questionable for next week.
The Packers played a fantastic game to open the season. Not only did the offense play really well, but the defense nearly completely shut down a promising Bears offense. Rookies Lukas Van Ness and Karl Brooks both brought fields down for a sack a piece. Devonte Wyatt and Kenny Clark got in on the fun as well with a sack-and-a-half and a half-sack respectively.
There’s no doubt the Packers played a great game; however, keep in mind they played a Bears team that held the first overall pick last draft and boasted the league’s worst defense a season ago. Any win is hard to come by, but time will tell if this was a sign the Packers are good or if the Bears are bad.
The Packers start the year off strong with a 1-0 record. They return to Lambeau Field next week to host the Atlanta Falcons for their home opener. The Falcons, coming off of a win over the Carolina Panthers, dominated in the ground game behind running backs Tyler Allgeier and rookie Bijan Robinson. A team with a history of bad run defense will get a trial by fire next week.