As he did in last season’s opener against the Packers, Bears coach Matt Nagy had his offense line up in the franchise’s famous T-formation to start Thursday night’s game.
Then they shifted, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky handed the ball off to Tarik Cohen, who, running left, fumbled. It didn’t count — the Packers were flagged for defensive holding — but it was an omen.
After the 10-3 loss to the Packers in front of 58,563 fans at Soldier Field, this much was clear: The days of the kicker being the Bears’ biggest problem now seems quaint.
Trubisky capped a brutal night by throwing an interception to former Bears safety Adrian Amos in the end zone at the two-minute warning. The Bears were down seven and at the Packers’ 16-yard line — it’s as close as they got to the opposing end zone all night.
The team squandered their last shot at a score. Inheriting the ball at his own 14 with 1:33 left and down seven, Trubisky threw a two-yard pass, two incompletions and took a sack.
Trubisky went 26-for-45 for 228 yards and one interception. He was sacked five times and had a 62.1 passer rating. The Bears had 10 penalties for 107 yards, including two delay of game calls five plays apart. The offense was out of sync the entire game, and wasted a defensive effort the other 31 NFL teams would kill for.
The offense was booed off the field in the second, third and fourth quarters.
“To our fans, they have every right to boo — every right to boo,” Nagy said. “We get it. . . . They deserve better, and that’s what we need to do.”
Nagy later called the Bears’ offensive performance “absolutely terrible” and “unacceptable.”
The only offense came from rookie kicker Eddy Pineiro, who, in his first career game, made a 38-yard field goal in the first quarter. He booted the ball out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff, giving the Packers possession at the 40, but they went three-and-out for the third time in as many series.
Teamed with new head coach and play-caller Matt LaFleur for the first time, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers played perhaps the worst first quarter of his career. He looked like himself on the Packers’ fourth possession, though. He lofted a 47-yard pass deep over the middle to Marquez Valdes-Scantling, who caught the ball over a trailing Prince Amukamara. He then found tight end Marcedes Lewis for nine yards and Devante Adams for 10. On first-and-goal from the 8, Rodgers looked left, and then right before throwing to tight end Jimmy Graham, who boxed out Amukamara on top of the NFC logo in the north end zone. Adding insult to injury: the Bears had 12 men on the field.
In what was supposed to be the first game of Trubisky’s Offense 202, he looked as bad as at any time during the 2018 season. Nagy said this week he didn’t fear that Trubisky, who handed the ball off three times in exhibition play, would be rusty. He said after the game he was still “sticking with his gut” with Trubisky
“I think he saw [the field] OK,” Nagy said. “But I didn’t help him at all.”
With two new running backs in their rotation, the Bears handed the ball off only 15 times. Cohen had zero yards rushing — his lone carry coming back on a penalty — while rookie David Montgomery had six and Mike Davis five.
“I think when this offense is at its best it’s a balanced attack with the run game and the pass game,” Trubisky said.
About a minute into the fourth quarter, the offense reached a new low.
The Bears had first down at the Packers’ 43 when left tackle Charles Leno was flagged for holding. On first-and-20, Leno was called for illegal use of hands. On first-and-30, Trubisky threw a 50-yard pass to Taylor Gabriel, who had obviously pushed off against Tramon Williams.
That led to first-and-40 — and then a dropped pass, an incompletion and a gain of nine yards before punting.
“I don’t have a play for third-and-40,” Nagy said.
The 199th meeting of the sport’s greatest rivalry — and the start of the 100th season for both the Bears and the NFL — crackled with electricity before kickoff.
By the end, the Bears were simply fried.
“We didn’t lose the Super Bowl,” Nagy said. “We just lost the first game of the regular season.”
The latter, though, made odds of the former seem that much more unlikely.