The Green Bay Packers’ Week 1 game is against the Chicago Bears. Here’s an early look at that game at Soldier Field.
Series: Bears lead 92-90-6. The series hasn’t been this close since 1939, when Chicago won the second matchup of the season to lead 19-17-4.
Last time: Coming off of their midseason bye, the Packers blasted the Bears 55-14. Aaron Rodgers tied an NFL record with six touchdown passes in the first half.
Noteworthy: It’s no wonder why the Bears fired Marc Trestman and replaced him with John Fox. The Packers scored 93 points in sweeping last year’s series. With a health Rodgers, the Packers haven’t lost to the Bears since Sept. 27, 2010. Quarterbacks are the key: Jay Cutler threw a league-high 18 interceptions last season and 30 the past two seasons; Rodgers has thrown 25 the past four seasons.
With that, it’s no wonder why Fox was so noncommittal when pressed on Cutler at the Scouting Combine. Cutler, however, will be the Bears’ starter after the team’s only transactions at the position were re-signing Jimmy Clausen and signing undrafted Brett Favre clone Shane Carden.
“We’re in a performance-based business (and) I understand that and you have to perform,” Fox said at last week’s minicamp. “But leading up to that, there’s a lot that goes into it, and he’s done everything we’ve asked.”
5-11 (last, NFC North).
Offensive rankings: 23rd in points (19.9 per game). 21st in yards (327.1 per game). 15th in passing (237.0 per game). 27th in rushing (90.1 per game).
Defensive rankings: 31st in points (27.6 per game). 30th in yards (377.1 per game). 30th in passing (264.4 per game). 17th in rushing (112.7 per game).
2015 Comings and Goings
Hello: WR Eddie Royal, C Will Montgomery, DE Jarvis Jenkins, ILB Mason Foster, OLB Pernell McPhee, S Antrel Rolle, CB Alan Ball. McPhee, in particular, will be a building block in the new 3-4 scheme. McPhee, Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young could provide a formidable and flexible four-man rush on passing downs.
Draft: The Bears immediately replaced one big receiver (Marshall) by drafting another (Kevin White, seventh overall). With Alshon Jeffery and White, the Bears have two big receivers to test the Packers’ smallish cornerbacks. In the second round, they got the starting point of their 3-4 defense by drafting nose tackle Eddie Goldman. Center Hroniss Grasu, running back Jeremy Langford and safety Adrian Amos, taken in the third, fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, look more like building blocks than immediate contributors.
2015 Personnel in Focus
Pro Football Focus, that is. PFF has a color-coded rankings system for each team’s 24 “starters,” with the extra player to account for a key substitution package such as a third cornerback or third wide receiver. Green Bay has four blue/elite starters (Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson and Sitton), six green/high-quality starters (Lang, Lacy, Hayward, Peppers, Daniels and Matthews), four green/good starters (Linsley, Bulaga, Shields and Burnett), six yellow/average starters (Bakhtiari, Quarless, Kuhn, Hyde, Perry and Clinton-Dix) and four orange/below-average starters (Adams, Guion, Raji and Barrington). The Packers don’t have any starters rated poor and they don’t have any rookies projected to be starters.
The Bears have ...
Dark green/high quality (3): WR Alshon Jeffery, TE Martellus Bennett, OB Pernell McPhee.
Yellow/average (3): LT Jermon Bushrod, QB Jay Cutler, Antrel Rolle.
Red/Poor (1): RT Jordan Mills.
Silver/Not enough information (1): ILB Christian Jones.
Purple/Rookie (2): WR Kevin White (first round), NT Eddie Goldman (second round).
Inside linebacker Shea McClellin said: “What we need to get back to is the Monsters of the Midway, that's the bottom line. We haven't been that the last two years, and we need to get back to that."
Coach John Fox said: "I think we've made progress. We're by no means there yet. We've made a lot of changes, upstairs, downstairs, throughout the building. I think the guys have responded well. Guys have bought in and worked hard and that's all I can ask."
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.