What. A. Game.
In all the games we’ve seen Aaron Rodgers play, I don’t think we’ve ever gone from so low to so high in an instant. At half time I was seated on my couch working on a new graphic for this piece, one that was less… hopeful. Season was in the books if Aaron couldn’t come back, over as soon as it started. Then the word was that Aaron might return. “Hold off on the graphic for the rest of the game,” I thought. Then came the pass to Geronimo… Then the moves by Davante… then the defense got Aaron the ball, down 6, with time left. Make no mistake, Kyle Fuller should’ve ended the game with an interception, but he dropped it, and you only get a few chances like that against Aaron Rodgers. Cobb went off for the longest touchdown reception of his career on the next play and the team iced the game from there. It’s like watching a movie, only we’d think the movie was impractical. In the midst of the euphoria, here’s what I know.
1. Aaron is a demigod
If you’ve read my work you know where I stand on ol’ number 12. He’s the best ever, bar none. Kizer got eaten alive by Chicago’s defense and the rush was present all night. Aaron takes the field down 20 in the second half and hangs a cool 24 to take the win. We all just watched one of the greatest performances of all-time. They’ll talk about this one as one of his best when he goes into the hall of fame (and they won’t remember that would-be-pick).
2. The line is… scary
For all the positive things Brian Gutekunst did, he didn’t address the offensive line. Cole Madison, the only lineman the team drafted, remains MIA, and the right guard play by Justin McCray was abysmal. Either McCray needs to step up or the team needs to add talent at the position. As good as Aaron is, he can’t throw the ball if he doesn’t have time to throw. His knee injury compromises his movement and there will be even more stress on the line than ever before. As good as it feels taking the win in Week 1, the line is something we’ll have to worry about week-in and week-out.
3. The defense isn’t too bad
After the first two drives I, like many fans, found myself struggling with no Dom Capers to blame. The team and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine rallied though, only allowing six points for the remainder of the game. Take away Kizer’s pick-six to Khalil Mack and the team only allowed 16 points to the Bears. I think we all would have taken the offer without hesitation if told pre-game that the defense would only let up two possessions worth of points.
4. Play with your head, Clay
Speaking of the defense, Clay Matthews made an ultimate bone-head play late. On 4th-and-9, Clay lowered his shoulder into Bears’ quarterback Mitch Trubisky and drove him to the ground on what was otherwise an incomplete pass. The play was flagged for roughing the passer and Chicago had another chance to win it. There was absolutely no reason for the hit. This isn’t the first quarter where you’re trying to get in the quarterback’s head. It was foolish, and we would’ve been furious if anybody hit Rodgers the same way.
5. Tackle the QB, please
The pass rush got around Trubisky often, but they couldn’t get more than a hand on him. Trubisky isn’t prime Michael Vick, and he’s not Tom Brady, he’s an average athlete for the position. They’ll need to figure out how to get to the passer and get him to the ground or they’ll get eaten alive by more athletic quarterbacks.
6. Secondary strength
The team invested a lot of capital in the secondary the past couple years, and it seems to be paying off a bit. Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson both looked solid and Kevin King was as good as expected. Nobody was flawless, but it was the best we’ve seen in a while. With a thin linebacking corps, the team needs a strong secondary to stifle the pass and help in the run game. Getting Oren Burks and Josh Jones back will improve the secondary and linebacker positions even more. It’s early, and the team will get more of a test against the Vikings in Week 2, but there’s reason to feel optimistic about the defensive unit at the very least.
7. G-mo show
The batch of rookie wide receivers got a lot of press in the preseason, but Geronimo Allison showed why he’s the No. 3. He made several key catches and his touchdown catch was a thing of beauty (not to mention the throw). Allison ended the day with five catches for 69 yards (nice) and the one touchdown. While the rookies have shown promise, Geronimo isn’t letting his spot go anytime soon.
8. Looking ahead
The Vikings head to Green Bay next week for what will be a tremendous test of the Packers true abilities. Minnesota was one of the best teams in the league a season ago and appears to be in line for another strong season. There’s no player the caliber of Khalil Mack on the Vikings’ defense but the unit is better overall than Chicago and will pose a challenge for what is in truth a vanilla McCarthy playbook. Handing out two losses to division rivals in the first two weeks of the season would be a huge boost for the Packers. Seeing how Rodgers’ knee responds over the next week will be the biggest storyline coming out of Green Bay, but the QB stated he expects to play. Admittedly, Minnesota is, and should be favored in the game, but the Pack have a shot.
Enjoy the euphoria Packer fans. Football’s back, the season is alive, and Aaron is the greatest.