The Green Bay Packers came from behind late in the fourth quarter to pull out a thrilling 21 – 15 victory over the arch-rival Chicago Bears Sunday night, treating Cheeseheads to an awesome season opener. While late fourth-quarter comeback wins are sweet, this game was also frustrating as the Packers’ highly potent offense sputtered throughout until a 50-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings, with only a minute left in the fourth quarter, sealed the victory.
The dramatic win was a hard-fought, old-fashioned Black and Blue Division affair, reminiscent of days of yore. The Bears trotted out a “new-look” no huddle offense but the revamped Packer defense wasn’t to be fooled. Cullen Jenkins and Brandon Chillar were the “stand-outs”, but the entire Packers defense did a great job shutting down the Bears running attack and was relentless throughout the game as they applied tremendous pressure on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. The slants, angles, and new blitz-pattern change ups were too much for Cutler who ended up throwing four interceptions on the night.
Three of those interceptions occurred in the first half as the Packer defense kept them in the game. The 2009 Packer defense is for real and the amazing part is that this year’s group is basically the same group that played so soft last year. The difference is largely attributable to the efforts of new Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers and the fresh group of defensive coaches Mike McCarthy brought in after last year’s debacle.
The Packer offense showed a glaring weakness in this game, however, and his name is right tackle Allen Barbre. Barbre had an absolutely nightmarish night allowing sacks and pressure on Aaron Rodgers and missing rushing blocks as well. This column previously warned about the danger of the weak link in the chain on the right side of the offensive line and that weak link clearly is Barbre. Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (who isn’t that good) was a one-man wrecking crew as he dominated Barbre to the point where Barbre would certainly have been pulled from the game except for the fact that the Packers had no other offensive tackles active for this game.
Look for Breno Giacomini to be active for next week’s game and I would bet that last year’s right tackle, Mark Tauscher, is now on Ted Thompson’s speed dial as a back-up option. The Packers have a serious problem there that needs to be addressed now before Rodgers gets clobbered. The coaches have erred in promoting Barbre to starting status. Let’s see if they are smart enough to correct a glaring mistake.
Next week the Cincinnati Bengals invade Lambeau with a mediocre team and a history of franchise incompetence. The Packers should win this game, but when you start predicting wins in the NFL, bad things can happen.
Putting the Bears game into perspective, the Rodgers to Jennings 50-yard game winner came on a third and one situation. Bart Starr had great success throwing the bomb on third and one plays and that is good company for Aaron Rodgers.