To say that the most highly-anticipated Bears season opener in recent memory failed to live up to expectations would be a gross understatement.
Entering the 2019 campaign with Super Bowl aspirations, the Bears never dreamed that their Week 1 game in Chicago would end with their fans booing and giddy green-and-gold clad interlopers chanting “Go Pack Go.”
But that’s exactly what transpired in a disappointing 10-3 loss to the Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field.
The Bears defense did its part. Led by first-year coordinator Chuck Pagano, the unit sacked Aaron Rodgers five times, held the Packers to 213 total yards and allowed Green Bay to convert only 2-of-12 third-down plays (17 percent). The 10 points were the fewest the Packers have scored in a game between the longtime foes since a 10-3 win in the 2010 season finale in Green Bay.
The Bears offense, on the other hand, struggled mightily from start to finish. After scoring at least 14 points in every game last season, the offense produced only an Eddy Pineiro 38-yard field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. The kick came on a drive that had started at the Packers’ 36.
Coach Matt Nagy opened his post-game press conference by calling his team’s performance “obviously unacceptable” and saying that it “starts with me.”
“I just told the guys in there, this is not who we are,” Nagy said. “I was proud of our defense. I thought they played their ass off tonight. Offensively, not good enough—and we’re going to fix it. Our guys know that.
“We have a locker room of high-character people. That’s why we bring these guys in because what they do is they don’t point fingers. The defense doesn’t point fingers and say the offense should have played better. That’s not how we roll.”
The Packers took a 7-3 lead on Rodgers’ 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham early in the second quarter. Mason Crosby’s 39-yard field goal widened the margin to 10-3 with 5:15 remaining in the fourth period.
The Bears ran only three of 65 plays in the red zone, with all three coming on a late drive after Crosby’s field goal. But on third-and-10 from the 16, Mitchell Trubisky's pass into double coverage intended for Allen Robinson II was intercepted by former Bears safety Adrian Amos in the end zone with 1:58 to play.
“That was a frustrating one,” Trubisky said. “I wish I would have had that one back. It felt really good when it left my hand and I thought I put it in a good spot for A-Rob. I didn’t keep my eyes on the safety long enough, and it looked like there was a little contact there. Maybe I should have went in a different spot.”
The Bears failed to sustain drives, converting just 3-of-15 third-down opportunities (20 percent). They twice were unable to pick up third-and-one plays, with Cordarrelle Patterson losing two yards on a handoff up the middle and Trubisky being sacked for no gain.
The Bears drew 10 penalties for 107 yards, including three on consecutive plays on a fourth-quarter drive that resulted in a third-and-40 situation.
“We just couldn’t get in a rhythm; it’s as simple as that,” Nagy said. “We had a third-and-40 at one point. I don’t have a play call for third-and-40. Now you’re just trying to flip the field and do whatever you can.”
Trubisky completed 26 of 45 passes for 228 yards with one interception and a 62.1 passer rating while being sacked five times. In three previous games against the Packers, he had a 96.6 passer rating, throwing three TD passes with no interceptions.
“I definitely feel like I let a lot of my teammates down and the fans down with the way I played,” Trubisky said. “I definitely felt like I could have done better.
“I felt like I made some good throws here and there, made some good decisions for the most part, but I think it was just sloppy by myself and as an offense as a whole. It was just tough. We couldn’t find a rhythm. It’s really frustrating because it’s very uncharacteristic of this offense, especially the way we’ve been practicing.”