The Green Bay Packers started the NFL season with a win, edging the Chicago Bears 10-3 on Thursday.
The Packers have started the season 1-0, but this was the definition of winning ugly.
Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky did all he could to help out the Packers, going 26-of-45 passing for 228 yards with no touchdowns and one awful red-zone interception.
He also took a sack inside his own five-yard line to effectively end the game.
— NFL (@NFL) September 6, 2019
Maybe the preseason isn’t totally useless?
Basically no star players played this preseason. Aaron Rodgers did not play a snap, neither did Philip Rivers, Antonio Brown did not sniff the field and Ezekiel Elliott was in Cabo. The story became about how pointless those four games before the season are and how dangerous they can be as well, as guys like Lamar Miller of the Houston Texans saw their season end due to injury in a meaningless game.
But this Bears-Packers game was not a great case study for why the preseason is pointless. Trubisky looked out of rhythm and just plain awful. He threw a total of zero passes this preseason. Rodgers went two of five for five yards and led the Packers to negative-12 yards in the first quarter. He put together a good drive to start the second quarter, but looked out of rhythm as well in a new offense.
In today’s NFL, players are not getting reps in the preseason, their practice time is now shorter and offenses are changing all the time. That often results in terrible football to start the season. The preseason needs to be cut from four games to two, but saying it is completely useless is hard to support after watching this game.
People forgot Chuck Pagano can produce a good defense
This Bears defense is still a product of former Chicago coordinator Vic Fangio. The players are his, the scheme is more or less his and the spirit of the D is his.
But Chuck Pagano is no slouch in calling defenses. He has taken over the Chicago D and they did not miss a beat in the season opener. Some of that, of course, had to do with a new offense in Green Bay, but the Bears very much look like they did last year, pressuring the quarterback and flying around the football.
Holding will be a bigger issue than the new pass interference rule
Fox rules analyst Mike Pereira warned us before the season: the new holding rules will be something to worry about this season. The NFL has put an emphasis on the play now, making sure to penalise them even if they happen behind the play and have little to no effect on the yards gained or lost.
“The number of holding calls in the preseason, so far, is off the charts,” Pereira told Omnisport last week.
He continued: “It’s not that they’re calling penalties and they’re not fouls, they are, but they don’t really have a great effect on the play. And that’s going to be – if you talk about holding penalties – they’re averaging about three, three and a half per game traditionally, and now in the preseason we’re seeing like eight per game.”
The Bears were called for 12 holding penalties all of last season. They were called for four by the early fourth quarter on Thursday. This is going to have a bigger effect on the NFL this season than the new pass interference rules.