As the sting of a Chicago Bears loss to the Green Bay Packers still sits in the brains of sports fans, we’re taking a look at the game through a critical eye and naming this week’s Winners and Losers.
Leonard Floyd’s Performance
The Bears’ defense was downright scary during the 2018 season, and they showed no signs of letting up in Week 1 this year, limiting the Packers to basically nothing outside of one good drive on Thursday night.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked a total of five times, and several players including Khalil Mack and Roy Robertson-Harris were responsible for the constant duress that the quarterback was under the entire night.
The big name that stood out in the throes of defeat was Leonard Floyd, as the linebacker notched his third career multi-sack game against the Packers. Floyd may not have the extensive variety of evasive moves that Mack does, but his raw athleticism and his ability to find a weak spot in the offensive line and to exploit it was on full display in that game.
Floyd’s second sack of Rodgers was a picture perfect example. As David Bakhtiari looked in toward the center to perfectly time his blocking stance to the snap of the football, Floyd took an extra step to the outside of the line and shot the B gap with a straight forward rush.
Many players will see that opportunity and try to go for it, but Bakhtiari is capable of turning most of them away, making what Floyd did even more remarkable.
David Montgomery’s Flashes of Brilliance
The evasiveness, power, and speed were all there for David Montgomery on Thursday night as the Bears rookie running back made his NFL debut.
The problem, ultimately, with the game was that Montgomery didn’t get enough chances to show off his skills. He had 45 total yards in the game on seven total touches, and while he showed some great flashes while running the football, it would have been nice to see more of him.
Wait, this was supposed to be a positive blurb. If you need a good highlight to watch over and over again, just watch Montgomery casually cruise into open space on his 27-yard reception for a first down. Or you can watch him bulldoze multiple Packers defenders and gain extra yards for a first down.
Those types of plays were rays of sunshine on a dreary evening, and Montgomery could end up having a really good season if the Bears use him properly.
Roquan Smith’s Football IQ
Coming out of Georgia, Roquan Smith was praised not just for his athleticism but also for his intelligence, and that was on full display on the first two plays of Thursday’s game.
On the first play, Packers running back Aaron Jones tried to cut the ball to the outside of the tackle, but Smith read the play well off the snap and was there to greet him at the line of scrimmage for no gain. On the very next play, Aaron Rodgers tried a short pass to Jones, but Smith again was able to sniff out the play and tackled Jones for no gain.
Players like Leonard Floyd and Khalil Mack definitely stood out for the Bears in the game, but Smith’s performance shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle. He is primed to have a big season, and the Bears’ already stout defense becomes even more terrifying if he’s playing in top form.
Matt Nagy’s Playcalling
Before getting to anything else about what went wrong, the head coach will need to be taken to task for the way he deployed the Bears’ offense in the contest.
In a game ultimately decided by a single touchdown, the Bears’ offense was embarrassingly one-dimensional, as Mitchell Trubisky dropped back to pass over 50 times while the running backs combined for 11 total carries.
David Montgomery, who had looked so good in the first half of the game, got one carry in the second half. Tarik Cohen, who had eight catches for 49 yards, didn’t have a single carry in the game.
The Bears rushed for a total of 46 yards, and their longest run of the night was eight yards.
Rather than use Montgomery or Mike Davis in a pair of first half third-and-short situations, Nagy tried to use playcalls that bordered on the overly cute. On the first he tried to run Cordarrelle Patterson, who managed to lose two yards, and on the second he tried a pass to Adam Shaheen, and when the tight end wasn’t open, Trubisky was left to scramble back to the line of scrimmage for no gain.
The Bears are going to be a pass-first team with Nagy at the helm, and rightfully so, but on a night where the offensive line is struggling to block and the offense is struggling to get going at all, it makes no sense to completely abandon Montgomery’s running ability in the second half.
The Offensive Line
Last season, the Bears were penalized a total of 12 times for offensive holding, the best mark in the NFL. On Thursday night, the Bears were tagged for holding on three different occasions, setting the team’s offensive effort even further back than it had been.
Overall, the team’s offensive line play was lackluster at best, as the team allowed five sacks and routinely had plays blown up because of an aggressive attack by the Green Bay defense.
James Daniels had an especially tough game at center, where he’s moved after a season of mostly playing left guard.
Things aren’t going to get any easier for the Bears in Week 2 when they head to one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums in Denver. Add to that the fact that Vic Fangio coached against this offense last year, and the Bears could be in for another long day at the office in the Mile High City.
It’s not uncommon for fans to become enraged by the officiating in a game where the Bears lose, but there is something to be said for the number of times that officials missed holding calls against Khalil Mack.
That was a common issue in the previous season as well, with Mack’s athleticism causing officials to lose sight of when he’s being grabbed by opposing linemen.
Officials also missed two potential delay of game penalties against the Packers and an intentional grounding call against Aaron Rodgers in the game, but those were much less egregious than the holds against Mack.