The Green Bay Packers' 40th appearance on Monday Night Football proved to be the tonic needed to give the Pack a badly needed reprieve on the still young 2003 season. The Pack jumped out quickly on the hapless Bears Monday night and eventually prevailed by a score of 38 - 23 to even the Pack's record this year at 2 wins and 2 losses. It was the first game played since the massive renovation of Soldiers Field where the jury is mixed on the new stadium. Some like it"¦others don't, unlike the renovated Lambeau in Green Bay"¦ where every one loves the improvements.
Regardless of the architectural changes at Soldier Field, it wasn't an especially gratifying win against arguably the worst team in the NFL. The Bears really are bad this year, taking nothing away from the fine effort from the boys in green and gold.They played a really crisp game"¦in sharp contrast to the stinkers they left on the field against Minnesota and Arizona in previous weeks. The defense got a little sloppy late in the game and the stats have a lot of "garbage time"¯ in them, but, all in all, the Packers played a fine game.
The Pack came out of the blocks with a new aggressiveness on defense. In the first half, the Packers utilized cornerback and safety blitzes to rattle the Chicago quarterback. About 50% of their defensive plays utilized blitzes, which is a huge change from the coaching strategy from the previous 3 games. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila had a really nice game as did Na'il Diggs. KGB is a relentless pursuer and a pleasure to watch. The Packers finally found a way to get a pass rush going and it was effective.
The Packer offense really kicked it into high gear Monday night. Ahman Green got it going early and had an all-time career day running for 176 yards and 2 TDs. Running behind an offensive line that laid open some gaping holes, Green looked superb. The Pack is 16 - 0 when Green runs for 100 yards + and that doesn't need a whole lot more analysis. Brett Favre looked more Favre-like too and he had a big night, dominating the Bears like no one else. Favre has won 19 games against the Bears as a starter in 23 attempts"¦. not too bad.
I really like the Packer special teams this year. The Packers blocked a punt and tried (almost successfully) a fake field goal Monday night. They screwed up an on-side kick-off late in the game, but, overall, more kudos for coach Bonamego! He gets Torrance Marshall back next week coming off substance suspension. Look for Marshall to pick up where he left off last year"¦ a terror on special teams.
I don't like some of the play calling by Offensive Coordinator Tom Rossley this year. An early17 point lead and Ahman Green running like a freight train seems to beg the question"¦ "why go into shotgun formation with an empty backfield"¯? It seems as though the Pack had the momentum to really blow this game away, but didn't because of bad offensive play calling.
The impressive victory of Monday night brings us to a very tough part of the 2003 schedule starting with Mike Holmgren's undefeated Seattle Seahawks next week and then the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. It shall be very interesting to see what the true character of the 2003 Packers will be. The next 2 weeks should provide the answer.