The Packers led by as many as 31 points in the second half and eventually finished with a 41-25 victory.
Here are all my notes and observations from rewatching the game on Monday:
– The Packers used a ton of jet motion on the first drive. It’s such a useful tool. On nearly every single run play, the motion helped cause hesitation in the Bears inside linebackers and created leverage angles in the blocking scheme. The early use of motion set the tone for the entire game. The Packers were constantly out-leveraging the Bears up front and using misdirection to pick up chunk gains.
– The key to beating the three-man rush in the red zone: creating enough time to find a soft space in the coverage. The Packers had effective double teams on both Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn, giving Aaron Rodgers over six seconds in the pocket to find Davante Adams for the score.
– Both inside linebackers took themselves out of the play on David Montgomery’s 57-yard run on the Bears’ second play from scrimmage. Christian Kirksey was especially late reacting to the zone read look.
– Credit Raven Greene and Kevin King for breaking up what would have been a game-tying touchdown pass to Allen Robinson after Montgomery’s long run. Greene got beat, but he stuck with it and fought Robinson’s hands on the way down, and King ranged over and finished knocking the ball out.
– The only time Rodgers was really hit all night was on the roughing the passer penalty.
– David Bakhtiari had pancake blocks on back-to-back plays in the first quarter. Unfortunately, the first one ended up hurting center Corey Linsley.
– The touchdown pass to Marcedes Lewis was incredible play design. The Packers motioned in Allen Lazard, reset coverage responsibilities, sold the run and then had Lewis flash into the flat for the score. The Packers put a lot on the pre- and post-snap plate of rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson, and he couldn’t react to it all in time.
– Oren Burks contributes next to nothing on defense, but he’s a quality special teams player. He drove Cordarrelle Patterson to the ground on a kickoff return in the first half. The Packers effectively neutralized Patterson’s special teams impact.
– Good teams are going to consistently take advantage of Kirksey in the passing game. The Bears got him several times in the first half.
– Chandon Sullivan’s coverage from the slot was nearly perfect on Darnell Savage’s interception in the end zone. He really took Darnell Mooney off his track, allowing Savage to range over from centerfield and beat Mooney to the football.
– Davante Adams should have had a 75-yard touchdown on the first play following Savage’s interception. The corner-post route was wide open. Rodgers missed him. Badly. He knew it. The Packers went back to it later.
– The Packers loved just about any matchup against Bears slot cornerback Buster Skrine.
– You can just tell the players love the trust Matt LaFleur has in his guys on fourth down. The Packers were 3-for-3 on fourth down. Up 13-3, LaFleur could have settled for a field goal on 4th-and-2 in the first half. He went for it, got it, and the Packers scored a few plays later.
– There’s a good chance Allen Lazard was the third read on his touchdown catch. Robert Tonyan and Marquez Valdes-Scantling were both covered up, but somehow Rodgers got to Lazard in the progression and made the throw falling away from pressure.
– OLB coach Mike Smith must have loved the two-play sequence late in the first half. Rashan Gary drew a holding penalty on third down, negating the conversion. On the next play, Za’Darius Smith strip-sacked Trubisky, and Preston Smith returned the fumble for a touchdown.
– Kirksey had an ugly game defending the red zone. Cole Kmet should have had a touchdown against his coverage on the first drive. Kirksey had a DPI late in the first half and then got fooled by the run action on Trubisky’s touchdown pass.
– The Packers had 11 seconds, two timeouts and started at the 35-yard line at the end of the half. They decided to run it and go to half up 17.
– Credit the defense for delivering a stop to start the third quarter. That was an important spot. Any chance of a Bears’ comeback lost most of its life early in the second half.
– Preston Smith had a bunch of third-down sacks last year. He finally got one this year to end the Bears’ opening drive.
– Preston also did a terrific job defending the zone read plays at the mesh point.
– The Tonyan touchdown was the Packers going back to the corner-post concept. It was wide open again. This time, Rodgers hit the throw.
– Awesome route by Equanimeous St. Brown against Skrine from the slot to convert a third down. Sold it upfield, then cut sharply inside to create a bunch of separation.
– Kevin King got his hands on a bunch of passes. He’ll be kicking himself for not completing the late interception in the end zone.
– Up 31 points, the Packers played a lot of off coverage and forced the Bears to use a bunch of plays and take up time to score. It was a mostly passive approach. The ball came out quick, generally, negating the pass-rush. Ideally, you’d like to see that front four of Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark finish off the game with a bunch of pressure.
– Rodgers and Adams were really close to a bunch of big plays. The last, a nearly perfect ball from Rodgers down the seam on 3rd-and-13, would have been a terrific end to the offense’s night. It wasn’t to be.