CHICAGO – The Packers began the 2023 regular season with an uplifting 38-20 victory over the archrival Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday.
Here are five takeaways from the triumph:
1. Jordan Love answered the bell.
After a long offseason full of speculation and hype as to just how Love would perform as the Packers’ new starting quarterback, the 2020 first-round draft pick came through big-time.
Not just by putting up a sparkling 123.2 passer rating, going 15-of-27 for 245 yards and three TDs, but by staying in command of a game that had a lot of ups and downs before the Packers pulled away in the fourth quarter.
“That’s this game, right?” Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. “You have to be resilient, and you can’t allow one play to affect the next play … he’s got the composure, the competitiveness.
“All in all, I couldn’t be more proud of his performance.”
2. Aaron Jones’ value to the Packers’ offense can’t be overstated.
Jones had five carries on Green Bay’s opening possession, helping set up a TD, and then he took over in the third quarter.
He took a throwback screen 51 yards to set up his own 1-yard TD plunge. Then on the Packers’ next drive, he caught Love’s quick throw on fourth-and-3 from the Chicago 35-yard line and took it to the house, pushing the lead to 24-6.
“He’s a guy that tilts the field in your favor,” LaFleur said. “He’s so dynamic and explosive. You even take out the football stuff, he means so much to that locker room by his actions, but what he says and what he does on a daily basis. He’s a real leader in that locker room. He inspires everybody.”
On the crucial fourth down, Jones ran what’s called a “choice route,” where he reads the defense and selects his route based on what he sees. Love saw what the Bears’ defense was doing, leaving man coverage on Jones with a linebacker, and thought the short throw had a chance to break big.
“I knew it was going to be open, I knew he was going to kill them (on that),” Love said. “It was an awesome finish by him the way he was able to split the defenders.”
Jones finished with 127 yards from scrimmage (41 rushing, 86 receiving) with the two scores and didn’t even play the fourth quarter, exiting with a hamstring injury on his second TD. LaFleur said after the game he’s hoping it was “just a cramp.”