Trevis Gipson, Robert Quinn apply the heat vs. Packers
Gipson had two sacks and Quinn had one as the Bears threw their best pass rush at Aaron Rodgers — to no avail in a tough first half.
GREEN BAY, Wis. —At least Trevis Gipson came to play.
The Bears’ third-year defensive end came into this season with high expectations after getting seven sacks last season. So far, so good, as Gipson has made an early impact opposite Robert Quinn on the Bears’ defensive front.
Gipson made his presence felt early against the Packers on Sunday night. He had two sacks and a pressure in the first half, as the Bears brought the best pass rush they could against Aaron Rodgers —and still came up empty in the half.
After trading Khalil Mack and losing Akiem Hicks in free agency at the start of Ryan Poles roster teardown/rebuild, the Bears put their faith in Gipson and Quinn to form a rotation with two newcomers — veteran Al-Quadin Muhammad and fifth-round rookie surprise Dominique Robinson.
They can’t complain too much with the early results. But against Rodgers, not even an effective pass rush can be enough. But it still has long-term promise. And Gipson continues to be a bright spot even as the defense stumbled against Rodgers.
Gipson continued to take big steps as he gains experience. After the Packers drove for their 25 to the Bears 18 on the opening drive of the game, Gipson sacked Rodgers for a four-yard loss to force a 40-yard field goal by Mason Crosby that gave the Packers a 3-0 lead.
The Packers led 10-7 with momentum in the second quarter when Gipson and Quinn combined to thwart and Packers drive and temporarily stem the tide.
On second-and-10 from the Packers 39-yard-line, Gipson and Quinn pressured Rodgers into an incompletion On third-and-10, Quinn sacked Rodgers for an 11-yard loss to force a punt.
The Bears opened the next defensive series with Robinson and Muhammad at defensive end, but Quinn and Gipson went back on the field as the Packers drove downfield yet again. On first-and-10 from the Bears 34 after Packers guard Ryan Newman was called for holding, Gipson beat right tackle Elgton Jenkins to sack Rodgers again — this time for an eight-yard loss.
This time, though, the Bears’ defense wilted. On second-and-28 from the 42, Rodgers threw a screen pass to rookie wide receiver Christian Watson for a 20-yard gain. On third-and-eight, Rodgers hit Randall Cobb for nine yards and a first down. Two plays later, Aaron Jones scored on a nine-yard run to give the Packers a 17-7 lead with 1:57 left in the first half.
As the Bears fell behind, they leaned more and more on Gipson and Quinn to fuel their pass rush. Robinson didn’t make the same impact as he did in his NFL debut against the 49ers, when he had 1.5 sacks, seven tackles and one tackle for loss.
The Bears threw a wrinkle at Rodgers in the second quarter that has potential. With Gipson and Quinn at left and right end, they moved Robinson inside at defensive tackle. It worked particularly well on Quinn’s sack, with Robinson getting good penetration — he would have sacked Rodgers if Quinn was not there.
While Gipson continues to make strides, Robinson’s progress after his quick start will bear watching. It remains to be seen if the league will catch up to him now that his performances are on film. But his seven tackles in the opener seemed like an indication that he’s more than just a pass rusher.
“I don’t know that it was better than we had hoped,” defensive coordinator Alan Williams said. “We thought Dominique was a pretty good player and we were waiting for the actual real game to see how he was going to function, and he did well.”