Packers defense carries team to 10-3 win over Bears

CHICAGO | The Matt LaFleur era begins with a win as the Green Bay Packers picked up a 10-3 win over the Chicago Bears Thursday night.

The Good:

Defense | Maybe the Packers don’t have to count on Aaron Rodgers as much anymore. GM Brian Gutekunst focused on defense this past free agency. He spent money on Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Adrian Amos to help improve that side of the ball. The Smith’s combined for nine pressures created and 2.5 sacks. Amos made an interception in the endzone on the Bears’ last drive to seal the win.

“I’m extremely happy Gutey and his crew did a great job of getting those guys for us, because they were a difference tonight,” LaFleur said.

“Great for Adrian coming back to the team that drafted him to get a pick in the end zone there,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “But a lot of credit to the front. I thought we put a lot of pressure on ‘em. It looked like obviously both the Smiths, they were in the mix a bunch. It was just a dominating performance. It gives you a lot of confidence when you play like that on offense and win a game by a touchdown.”

Maybe Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense was really bad Thursday night. But the Packers defense deserves a lot of credit for the way they played.

The not so good:

Offense | If I were to tell you the Packers would score only 10 points and win, you probably wouldn’t believe me. Getting the win is all that matters in the end but the offense needs to make massive improvements if they expect to be a contender.

It was a slow start for Rodgers and company as they finished the first quarter with -12 yards. Green Bay finished with 213 yards and were just 2-12 on third downs.

Chicago’s defense pressured Rodgers all night long. He completed 18 of 30 passes for 203 yards and was sacked five times.

The Packers had one huge play in the second quarter when Rodgers found Marquez Valdez-Scantling on a deep shot.

“It was a huge play in the game,” LaFleur said. “It gave us the spark we needed.”

Player of the game:

J.K. Scott | I’m not joking. The punter played a huge part in Green Bay’s win. He punted nine times averaging 47.6 yards per punt. Scott’s longest went 63 yards and he landed five inside the 20.

As bad as the Bears offense was, they needed all the help they could get and Scott didn’t give them any.

Play of the game

Amos interception | Thursday night felt like the fifth week of the preseason. There wasn’t a lot of pretty and there was a whole lot of ugly. The Bears had a chance to tie the game in the end but the former Bear made the play to help the Packers hold on.

What’s next?

Vikings | The Packers (1-0) will come back home to Green Bay to host the Vikings (0-0) in week two. Kickoff is scheduled for 12pm on Sunday, Sept. 15.

 

Report: Oren Burks has torn pectoral muscle

According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Oren Burks may have a torn pectoral muscle. Burks suffered the injury during Thursday night’s preseason opener against the Houston Texans

The injury occurred when Burks was attempting to tackle Texans’ quarterback Joe Webb in the first quarter.

Burks was a third-round draft pick for the Packers last season. He was in position to start alongside Blake Martinez in defensive coordinator’s Mike Pettine’s base defense. There is no timeline on how long Burks will be out, but a torn muscle could certainly keep him out for all of 2019.

Green Bay doesn’t have a whole lot of depth at the inside linebacker position. Rookies Ty Summers and Curtis Bolton played well in the preseason opener but there’s no guarantee they can fill in to the level Burks could’ve during the regular season. Safeties Raven Greene and Josh Jones have also seen time at inside linebacker during certain packages.

GM Brian Gutekunst had to make a trade for veteran linebacker, Antonio Morrison last season after Burks went down with an injury. Guteknust may have to make another move this year if Burks is to miss significant time.

First year head coach Matt LaFleur did not say if Burks will miss significant time when he spoke to the media after Saturday’s practice.

“Honestly, I don’t really know anything right now,” LaFleur said. “It’s kind of wait and see, but I hope not.”

Packers claim TE Michael Roberts off waivers

The Green Bay Packers claimed Tight End Michael Roberts off waivers from the Detroit Lions on Monday. The Lions tried to trade Roberts to the Patriots, but the deal was rescinded last Friday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Roberts didn’t pass his physical with the Patriots.

The Lions drafted Roberts in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Roberts will join a depth chart of six TEs in Green Bay led by veterans Jimmy Graham and Marcedes Lewis. The Packers’ third-round 2019 draft pick, Jace Sternberger is also in the mix. Robert Tonyan and recently claimed Pharoah McKever will all be competing for a spot on the roster.

In 23 games over the past two years, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Roberts has caught 13 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

Aaron Rodgers makes cameo on ‘Game of Thrones’

Green Bay Packers’ star QB Aaron Rodgers has made plenty of appearances in commercials but has now appeared in perhaps the biggest hit TV show. Rodgers made a cameo on Sunday’s episode of Game of Thrones. He didn’t have much screen time.

Pat McAfee snapped a picture of Rodgers. He’s the third one from the right.

Rodgers hinted that he would be a part of the show during an interview at the Kentucky Derby. It’s impressive that arguably the most talented QB in NFL history can also act.

Packers pick up fifth-year option on DL Kenny Clark

It is no surprise to anyone that the Green Bay Packers want their young defensive lineman back. According to Field Yates of ESPN, the Packers exercised Clark’s fifth-year contract option. Clark will be in Green Bay through the 2020 season.

A first-round pick in 2016, Clark has become one of the best, young defensive lineman in the NFL. Over the last two seasons he’s had 10.5 sacks, 14 tackles for losses and 17 quarterback hits.

The defensive front will look much different this season. They spent money on pass-rushers in free agency adding Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Also, the Packers used their first pick of the 2019 NFL Draft (12th overall) on another pass-rusher, Michigan’s Rashan Gary.

The moves made in the off-season and the draft will no doubt help take pressure off Clark. Green Bay re-tooled their defense and will be looking for another big season from Clark.

Clay Matthews signs with the Rams

Clay Matthews’ tenure with the Green Bay Packers is over. According to Ian Rapoport, the former green and gold pass-rusher is signing with the Los Angeles Rams.

According to Mike Garafolo, it’s a two-year deal for Matthews worth a max of $16.75 million. Apparently, he had better offers on the table, but he just welcomed his third child and really wanted to play close to home. Matthews played his college football at USC.

This is a perfect situation for Matthews as he will get a chance to compete for a ring. Also, he will be on a defense loaded with pass-rushers which should allow him for more free runs at the quarterback.

Matthews will finish his 10-year career in Green Bay as the Packers all-time sack leader.

This is what Matthews will look like in a Rams uniform.

Packers lose a pair of defensive backs

The Green Bay Packers took a minor hit to their defensive depth losing CB Bashaud Breeland and S Kentrell Brice. Breeland agreed to a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs and Brice signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Losing Breeland hurts because he was a quality experienced veteran who the young corners looked up to. Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and Josh Jackson have a lot of potential but are young and inexperienced. Alexander established himself in his rookie year as the top corner in Green Bay. King has showed flashes but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Jackson struggled much of his rookie season, but the Packers will be in good shape if all their young corners make a jump this season.

Tramon Williams is still the veteran leader and can help bring the young guys along.

As for Brice, he was a liability both in coverage and as a tackler. According to Pro Football Focus, Brice allowed a passer rating of 150.1 on 29 throws into his primary coverage and missed 12 of 57 tackle attempts last season.

Report: Packers interested in signing RB Mark Ingram

The Green Bay Packers could be looking to bolster their backfield.

According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Packers are showing interest in Mark Ingram.

First-year head coach Matt LaFleur has stressed he wants to run the ball this season.

Ingram was a first-round pick by the New Orleans Saints in the 2011 NFL Draft. He is a two-time Pro Bowler (2014, 2017) and has rushed for 6,007 yards and 50 touchdowns in his career.

The Packers already have a strong foundation at the running back position with Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams. They’ve both shown over the past two seasons they can produce. Green Bay averaged five yards per carry in 2018 which ranked second in the NFL. However, they were last in the league in rushing attempts (333).

Could the Packers trade for Chiefs’ LB Dee Ford?

There appears to be a trade market for Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Dee Ford. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport, both the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers are interested in Ford.

Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette confirmed the Packers side of the report.

Ford is set to make $15.4 million on the franchise tag in 2019. He is coming off a 13-sack season last year, but it was only the second time in five years that he has reached double-digit sacks.

Green Bay needs an edge rusher and Ford could be a great fit in DC Mike Pettine’s system. They were in the mix for Khalil Mack last season but failed to give up the amount of assets the Oakland Raiders wanted. The price-tag on Ford will certainly be lower than Mack’s cost.

Clay Matthews is an unrestricted free agent and may not even return to the Packers this season leaving a void that Ford could easily fill.

It will be interesting to see if either of these teams pulls the trigger and gets a deal done with the Chiefs.