Packers Defense Rivals Bears Among NFL’s Best Units in Week 1

Packers Defense Week 1 Bears

Getty Green Bay Packers pass rusher Za'Darius Smith pressures Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky during the Packers' 10-3 victory in Week 1.

Hard to put it any better than Aaron Rodgers did after the Green Bay Packers walked off Soldier Field with a 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears.

“That was fun to watch,” Rodgers said during Thursday night’s postgame. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a performance like that. Obviously a lot of credit to Mike Pettine and his staff, but to those players, just incredible effort. We didn’t do them a whole lot of favors with our own performance on offense, but any time we needed something, a stop, they came up with some big plays.”

Holding Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense to just 254 yards and a single field goal helped put the Packers seriously-upgraded defense to some of the highest rungs in the NFL during opening week, challenging Chicago’s claim to the league’s best defense after holding it throughout the 2018 season.

The Packers finished Week 1 among the top five in numerous categories, including allowing the fifth-fewest total yards, the third-fewest yards per play (3.9) and tying the New England Patriots for the fewest points allowed at just three. They also tied the Bears and a handful of other teams with a second-most five sacks.

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Long Time Coming for the Packers

The Packers shut out the Buffalo Bills last season at Lambeau Field, but a strong defense on the road? That’s been lacking for a few seasons now.

The last time a Green Bay defense allowed just three or fewer points was October 2015 when the Packers handed the San Francisco 49ers a 17-3 loss inside Levi’s Stadium. Looking specifically at the team’s history inside Soldier Field, it was the first time since 1992 that the Packers have held the Bears to three or fewer points in their own den.

Thursday night’s 10-3 victory was also just the 13th time in franchise history dating back to 1921 that the Packers have constrained the Bears’ offense so much, despite the first of those performances being a 3-0 Chicago win during the 1924 season.

Early Return on Investments

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The Packers were unusually big spenders during the offseason, acquiring new defensive pieces such as safety Adrian Amos and pass rushers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The additions of Darnell Savage Jr. and Rashan Gary.

Nearly all of them shined during the season-opening win in Chicago, most obviously the ex-Bear Amos with his interception in the end zone that essentially sealed his former team’s fate. Za’Darius Smith tallied a sack among his three tackles, while Preston Smith finished with a sack and a half for a loss of 11 yards as well as five total tackles. Each of them had three quarterback hurries as well.

“It gives you a lot of confidence when you play like that on offense and win the game by a touchdown,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said during Thursday’s postgame after he and the offense went nine plays for a loss of 12 yards in their first three drives.

In his first NFL game, Savage also notched a quarterback hurry and made three tackles, but not all of the team’s prized rookies were spectacular in their debut. Gary played just six snaps and made no tackles, even if he did contribute once or twice in less noticeable ways.

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