*The NFL picked up where it left off: with a low-scoring affair between a future Hall of Fame quarterback and an up-and-coming signal-caller. Again, the veteran took it. Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers (1-0) defeated Mitchell Trubisky's Chicago Bears (0-1) at Soldier Field on Thursday night, 10-3. Here's what we learned from the 2019 season opener: *
- Within the hands of a former Bear, the Packers secured a 10-3 victory to begin the NFL's 100th NFL season on a perfect night for football at Chicago's Soldier Field.
Though the Packers offense had to use two more possessions to run out the clock to wrap up the win over the reigning NFC North champions, it was safety Adrian Amos -- in the first game of his NFL career in which he wasn't donning a Bears uniform -- who finished off the Green Bay triumph when he intercepted a poor choice from Mitchell Trubisky in the end zone with 1:58 to play.
Amos, who played four years with the Bears, secured the Packers' only takeaway of the night despite Trubisky offering up a bevy of balls that likely should've been intercepted. Nonetheless, this was an evening which belonged to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's squad, bolstered by newcomers such as Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith and first-round pick Darnell Savage mixing brilliantly with tackling machine Blake Martinez and the old gang.
Following Amos' interception, the Packers surprisingly were unable to run out the clock, but another final Packers defensive stop, ended emphatically with a Preston Smith sack, concluded the night.
- As an age-old rivalry began an NFL season anew, an age-old question was left to be pondered once again. In a game in which the Packers won, 10-3, how much credit goes to Green Bay's defense and how much blame goes to Chicago's offense? Equal perhaps, as no matter how good the Packers looked, the Bears were bad and ugly just the same on offense.
"Obviously unacceptable," coach Matt Nagy began his postgame press conference.
From the Bears' first offensive play, struggles were at hand for Chicago on that side of the ball. Tarik Cohen fumbled a quick pitch from Trubisky. The play was nullified by a defensive holding call against Green Bay, but it was the start of a game in which Nagy's calls were often too cute or gimmicky for their own good. Myriad packages with a slew of different personnel added up to only three points -- scored by kicker Eddy Pineiro, who became a footnote following an offseason in which kicking was comically at the forefront in Chicago.
While it certainly wasn't a play-calling masterpiece for Nagy, Trubisky must saddle the majority of the lambasting.
This is a big season for Trubisky, but Thursday indicated that his game, much like his mustache, still needs a lot of developing.
Trubisky was 26-of-45 for 228 yards and one fateful interception. He never looked confident or settled, he missed reads and rarely succeeded if his first read didn't come open. Sure, there were glimpses such as the potential of rookie running back David Montgomery and an overlooked solid game by receiver Allen Robinson (seven receptions for 102 yards).
But, plain and simple, the Bears offense was abysmal. For all the aforementioned drama surrounding the kicking game that began in Chicago's playoff loss against Philadelphia, it's important to remember the Bears had just one touchdown in that loss. There were plenty of questions for the offense at the bitter conclusion of last season and none were answered Thursday.
- With so much made about how Aaron Rodgers and rookie head coach Matt LaFleur would mesh as the Packers franchise looks to begin a new era and rekindle its playoff ways, Thursday truly answered none of those quandaries.
While we still wait to see just how Rodgers and LaFleur will coexist, one thing that remains clear is Rodgers, the face of Green Bay, still has the Bears' number.
Though Chicago took the NFC North a season ago, it still split the season series with a sub-par Green Bay team as the Packers won thanks to a Rodgers comeback for the ages.
Rodgers was hardly outstanding on Thursday -- 18-of-30 for 203 yards with one touchdown and no picks -- but he improved to 17-5 against the Bears with 46 touchdowns to just 10 interceptions. Ridiculously, he is now 4-0 with eight TDs and no interceptions in four Week 1 starts against Chicago.
In reality, all Rodgers needed was one drive and that was enough.
The Packers had a staggering negative-12 yards of total offense in the first stanza of play -- the fewest for the franchise in a quarter since 1994. And then boom, Rodgers and Green Bay raced up the field to open the second quarter. Looking more like the sandlot version of Rodgers than a quarterback in a new offense, he chucked a first-down toss over the middle to Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a 47-yard game-turning gain. Then a nine-yard completion. Then a 10-yard completion. And then Rodgers looked to basically throw a jump ball into the end zone and Jimmy Graham came down with an eight-yard touchdown and a 6-3 lead. The score came in the second quarter, but it held as the game-winner.
- Nobody enjoys finding silver lining in a loss.
Still, the Bears defense, despite having to pick up the pieces from a season-opening loss to an archrival, was every bit as impressive as advertised.
Chicago had five sacks -- two from Leonard Floyd -- and obliterated the Green Bay running game. The Bears also found a new weapon in defensive lineman Roy Robertson-Harris (three tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack).
You can't celebrate every win and you can't mourn every defeat, but this loss does sting for a Bears squad seemingly poised for Super Bowl-contender status. Nonetheless, the Bears defense looked every bit the part of a Super Bowl defense on Thursday. Obviously its offense didn't hold up its end.
- In many ways, the build-up to Eddy Pineiro's first field-goal attempt began with the conclusion of the Bears' 2018 season. And so it went that Pineiro stepped up and scored the first points of the NFL's 100th season with a 38-yard field right down the middle.
The first points of Pineiro's NFL career drew a hearty ovation from the Chicago faithful. Who knew they would be the only Bears points of the game?
It was actually his second kick of the night as he handled the opening kickoff and netted a touchback. His bid at a perfect night ended on the ensuing kickoff with an illegal procedure.
Questions still remain about Nagy's confidence in him, however, as, in the third quarter, the Bears were staring at fourth-and-10 and went for it rather than trotting out Pineiro for a 50-yard attempt.
- For all the hubbub about kicking games, it was the punters who truly stole the attention and snaps on Thursday.
While the Packers defense was outstanding, punter JK Scott played a huge role in his team's win, as well. Over the night, he punted a staggering nine times with a stellar average of 47.6 yards per punt, a booming long of 63 and a tremendous five landing inside the 20. The Bears offense needed all the help it could get and Scott gave them none.
As for the Bears punting situation, Pat O'Donnell was fine and dandy to the tune of eight punts for an average of 42.6. Problem was, those eight punts were more than any single-game total for the Bears in all of last season. Not a good start.
- The offensive revolution will not be televised -- or streamed or however you drink in your NFL content.
As the NFL is immersed in an age in which offense rules the day, the 100th season began with a defensive slugfest that boasted only 13 combined points and 467 combined yards of offense.
This was the second straight NFL game in which there was only one offensive touchdown scored. The previous was Super Bowl LIII, won by the Patriots, 13-3, over the Rams.
Sexy statistics and big numbers are no doubt on the NFL horizon -- fear not, fantasy friends -- but great defense is very much still a path to victory 100 years into the NFL.