Over the course of the offseason, the Chicago Bears looked like a team that was ready to make some moves toward the future. Naturally, I was a little more invested in watching a Bears season opener than I would have been in previous years.
Unfortunately, this ended up being a game that will likely end up being mentioned in Aaron Rodgers’ Hall of Fame speech.
I’m here to tell you, Bears fans: better days are right around the corner.
I previously wrote about Chicago’s playoff hopes and how the rest of the NFC is so stacked. However, the rest of the NFC didn’t show up in week one. The Cowboys, 49ers, Saints, Giants, Seahawks, Cardinals, and Lions all lost. The Panthers and Eagles showed up on defense as expected, but the door was open for both teams to score a lot more. Neither team even cracked 20 points.
The bad news is that Kirk Cousins already looks acclimated with the division rival, Minnesota Vikings. The good news is that everyone else in the NFC looked so poor that the NFC North has a chance to send three teams to the playoffs. The Detroit Lions are not one of them.
Let’s talk about the positives from Sunday’s game. Every new offensive weapon in Chicago already showed some flash of potential. Allen Robinson still has vice grips for hands and Taylor Gabriel is still as quick as ever. Trey Burton only had one catch but was targeted six times. That connection will improve with time. Anthony Miller also chipped in with two catches in his NFL debut.
The run game looked absolutely fantastic. Jordan Howard averaged 5.5 yards per carry and was more involved in the passing game than I expected. Tarik Cohen added another 5.0 YPC with three catches of his own. They were the perfect compliment to each other. Mitchell Trubisky left a little to be desired in his accuracy and decision-making, but showed the ability to move in the pocket and a willingness to run.
I don’t even need to say much about Khalil Mack. Although this game ended in a loss, I’m sure every Bears fan is looking forward to the next few seasons with him coming off the edge. Roquan Smith wasn’t on the field as much as fans hoped but his first play alongside Mack ended in a sack.
Yes, Aaron Rodgers immortalized himself to an even greater extent in this game, but I didn’t see it as an indication of the lack of talent on the Bears. Aaron Rodgers is capable of doing this to every team. The Bears just so happened to be in his way on this particular week.
Even before the Aaron Rodgers injury, Chicago was getting stops and pressures on the Packers offense. The Randall Cobb touchdown to put Green Bay ahead was just a perfect example of a quarterback knowing his receiver after years of playing together. If you look across the NFL, you wont find chemistry between a QB and receiver like Rodgers & Cobb unless you’re talking about Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowksi or Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown.
The one piece of advice I’ll give to fans: the Bears were up 20-17 with 2:47 left in the game. It was 3rd &1 and the Packers had no timeouts left. Jordan Howard had just ran for 12 yards on the previous play in an incredible effort. With all of that apparent, the Bears still decided to pass the ball for some reason. It ended up being incomplete, which stopped the clock. The Packers scored the game-winner soon after.
I’m still trying to figure out why they couldn’t trust their best offensive player to get a single yard. Even if he doesn’t pick up the first down, you still give less time to the Packers to work with. If they can identify what went wrong on that specific play, the Chicago Bears should be able to compete with anybody this year.
Even if they finish this season around 7-9 or 8-8, their games will remain close. All of the new additions mean it will take a little extra time for everyone to gel together. As deflating as the outcome was, there was more to be optimistic in that Sunday night game than not. Be patient.