CHICAGO – When the Bears spent all offseason talking about picking up right where they left off, maybe we should have taken them a bit more literally. On Thursday night, close to 63,000 fans fought through rush hour traffic on Lake Shore Drive to get their first glimpse at what the 2019 Chicago Bears had in store. The only problem was the 2018 Bears showed up.
“Obviously unacceptable,” Matt Nagy said after being booed off the field in a 10-3 loss. “Starts with me, so this -- I just told the guys in there, this is not who we are. I was proud of our defense. I thought they played their ass off tonight.”
If there’s a silver lining to Thursday night’s loss, first of all, it’s probably more of light charcoal. The immediate chatter will center around Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy’s inability to get the Bears into the end zone, and rightfully so. Still, it should be noted that the team’s defense looked strong as ever, which – fairly or not – was a concern headed into the evening.
“It’s tough, man. It’s tough. We wanted this one bad, as everybody could tell,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint, but I just feel like we have to do things better, on both sides of the ball. We’ve got to take practice more seriously as well. We’ve just got to turn it up a notch."
Chuck Pagano’s unit wasted no time making an impact, as Roquan Smith blew up the Packers’ first two plays of the night, followed by a 12-yard sack from Roy Robertson-Harris that had Soldier in a frenzy. Unlike in 2018 – when the big plays came from household names like Jackson, Khalil Mack, and Akiem Hicks – it was Roy Robertson-Harris and Leonard Floyd who were the stars of Week 1's loss. The duo had three of the Bears’ five sacks.
“It felt good to be out there,” Floyd said. “But it also sucked to lose like that, knowing that we played with great effort on the defensive side. We’re going to look at the film, make corrections and come out next week with a better mindset.”
All in all, it was a gutsy, well-played performance against one of the NFL’s all-time great quarterbacks. The Packers ran for only 47 yards on 22 attempts, and Rodgers was a pedestrian 18 for 30 for 203 yards and a touchdown. One touchdown was all it took, though; Green Bay’s lone touchdown drive was only four plays long and lasted a grand total of 88 seconds.
The seminal moment of that drive came when, while showcasing some of the improvisational skills that have made him a consensus first ballot Hall of Famer, Rodgers hit Marquez Valdes-Scantling over Amukamara for a 47-yard reception.
“We had some run action with a fake reverse there,” Rodgers said. “The protection on the left side just kind of caved in. So, I just moved to the left and was peeking for a safety, who wasn't there, so I tried to lead Marquez (Valdes-Scantling) in the middle of the field, and he made a nice catch.”
The QB then hit tight end Jimmy Graham for an eight-yard touchdown on a play in which the Bears were penalized for having too many men on the field. After the game, Amukamara admitted that the quick-strike nature of that series caught the defense off guard.
“We knew that they were going to take a shot sometime,” he said. “Especially that time, because they hadn’t really took one all game. After that play, it kind of hit us in the mouth, and Aaron took advantage of that.
“[Valdes-Scantling’s reception] was just miscommunication. I hate to use that word, but we just all have to be on the same page on the back end any time the ball’s in the air. It’s on us.”
And now the Bears have an extra 48 hours to stew in a seven point loss that felt at least double that. Fans may belabor this loss until the moment Week 2 starts, but those within the locker room at Halas Hall are putting it away – starting tomorrow.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint,” Eddie Jackson said. “So right now we’re going to live with this one for 24 hours, and focus on Denver next week.”