A D-lightful debut for LaFleur

Packers beat Chicago at Bears game

Have to admit, didn't see this coming.

Sure, baby Head Coach Matt LaFleur insisted his offensive system would be a work in progress and his rebuilt defense might have to carry a little extra load as the 2019 campaign begins but the Packer offense has a lot of work to do before progressing and the Green Bay defense did all the heavy lifting in a 10-3 victory over the reigning NFC North Champion Bears at Soldier Field.

It was indeed a throwback as the league's storied rivals launched the 100th NFL season.

The Packers kept the home team out of the end zone with relentless play, fueled by the trio of high priced free agents signed in the off-season by General Manager Brian Gutekunst.

Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith combined for two and  a half of the team's five sacks of Mitch Trubisky and Adrian Amos, the ex-Bear, pulled down a huge interception in the end zone in the closing minutes.

Chicago produced just 254 yards, they converted three of 15 third down plays and failed on a 4th down try.   They were held to just 47 yards rushing.   Trubisky was wildly erratic hitting 26 of 45 passes with a passer rating of 62.1.  In essance, the plan devised by coordinator Mike Pettine, and carried out by his unit, beat the Bears at their own game.

They closed hard on the ball whenever it got into playmaker's hands, rookie safety Darnell Savage in particular.  The missed tackles of the pre-season all but vanished and they got the huge takeaway.

The kicking game also kept the Packers afloat, there were 17 punts afterall, J.K. Scott hit 9 of them and averaged 47.6 yards a boot and saved the best for last, a 63 yard rocket that flipped the field when the Packers burned off only 13 seconds after the Amos pick.

But Preston Smith finished it off with the final sack of Trubisky on 4th down deep in their own end.

All of that was required because the Green Bay offense was neutered by last year's top ranked defensive unit which has Pro Bowl players at every level.

LaFleur's offense put up just 213 yards,  only 46 on the ground, they went a horrid 2 for 12 on third down and gave up five sacks as well.

Green Bay's first three series in the opening quarter all went three and out with a grand total of -12 yards.     The first positive yardage play came on series three with Davante Adams catching a five yard pass, with 3:40 left in the opening period.

Only two drives were required however.   The first was lightning fast, thanks to a 47 yard bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the first offensive snap of the second quarter.  Aaron Rodgers then found Mercedes Lewis for 9, Adams for 10 and when he caught the Bears with 12 men on the field (sound familiar?), he lobbed a jump ball pass to Jimmy Graham for an 8 yard touchdown and a 7-3 lead.

The second drive covered 73 yards in the 4th quarter and ate up over six and a half minutes.  Granted, the Packers got a break on a third down sack nullified by an illegal contact penalty on one of the Chicago Pro Bowlers, corner Kyle Fuller. That set up Mason Crosby's 39 yard field with 5:15 to play.

Chicago gave it one last charge running the hurry up offense.  Trubisky drove the Bears from his 25 to the Green Bay 16 where he misfired twice.  On third and 10, he tried to hit Allen Robinson in the corner of the end zone.   Tramon Williams was right with him which forced Trubisky to overthrow the pass, into the waiting arms of Amos with 1:58 to play.

That's when Scott's big punt bailed out the last three and out for the offense and the defense fittingly, finished the job.

LaFleur becomes the first Head Coach to win his opening game since Ray Rhodes in 1999 and addressed the media late into the night:

 (Audio: Matt LaFleur)

There did not appear to be any injuries of note although Valdes-Scantling was taken to the locker room to get treatment for cramps.

The inactive players were Darrius Shepherd, Dexter Williams, Ka'Dar Hollman, Oren Burks, Cole Madison, Alex Light and Kingsley Keke.

Newly acquired linebacker B.J. Goodson, despite not even practicing with the team, dressed and even got in some snaps.

The captains were Aaron Rodgers, Mason Crosby, Davante Adams, Adrian Amos and Za'Darius Smith.

The Packers now lead the all-time series with the Bears 97-94-6 in regular season play.  After a well deserved long weekend, the Packers will host the next three games beginning with another division rival, the Minnesota Vikings, a week from Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Mark Daniels

I’ve got Green and Gold in my blood having grown up in Titletown and it’s been a treat watching and covering sports from the Packers to the preps for you in Green Bay for Midwest Communications.
As a kid, I chased Packer players for autographs, I’m still chasing ‘em now for quotes on the big play or big game. I’ve had the opportunity to cover Super Bowls, the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, NBA playoffs and major championship golf over the years but I get just as much enjoyment following the college scene at UWGB or St. Norbert, the Green Bay Gamblers and high school sports.
Our prep coverage was honored as the best of 2007 reinforcing our commitment to give these hard working boys and girls their due.
My work has also been recognized by the Associated Press and Wisconsin Broadcasters Association with several achievement awards.
Outside of the studio, off the field or away from the gym, I’ve had the pleasure of helping dozens of organizations over the years. I’ve served as race announcer and master of ceremonies at the Bellin Run almost from it’s beginning, spoken to various service clubs and hosted charity golf events or team banquets.
My wife Kari and I have raised two active children which has kept us involved in both school and club athletics for nearly 15 years. Chances are you’ll see me on a golf course when the weather’s nice. My roots are deep and that’s why I’m so enthusiastic about this area’s sporting scene, and as I often say, “Watching kids play games helps keep me young!”
Thanks for listening and see you at the game.