Same old story for new-look Bears as Aaron Rodgers leads Packers to 27-10 win
The Bears managed him for a quarter and a half, but that’s not enough. And it’s not progress.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Bears have changed everything, but nothing has actually changed.
With a new defensive-minded head coach and a renewed emphasis on locking down every part of the field, they still can’t stop Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — not for an entire game, at least, and that’s the only way to win.
Instead, it was another almost-success Sunday at Lambeau Field as they fell 27-10 to the Packers for the eighth consecutive time. It wasn’t all that different from their last trip here, when Matt Nagy said in his halftime interview he was “having so much fun” with a three-point lead only to be down 10 by the end of the third quarter and on his way to another humiliation.
Just another route to the same destination.
This time it was Matt Eberflus enjoying some tenuous, yet ultimately meaningless early success. The Bears actually had Rodgers reasonably under control for the first quarter and a half — not nearly enough to constitute a step forward — but were getting battered in the ground game.
Rodgers began just 5 of 11 for 70 yards, but closed the half with eight consecutive completions to rack up 94 yards and two touchdowns, including a classic sidearm throw over the middle to Lazard, beating rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon again to go up 24-7 right before halftime.
And, as the Bears know better than any team in the NFL, once Rodgers gets going, he doesn’t stop. He was well on his way to one of his traditional dismissals of the Bears.
Keep in mind that this version of Rodgers is nearly 39 years old and playing with a patchwork crew of wide receivers that was so exasperating to him in training camp that he publicly ripped them for dropped passes and running the wrong routes. He’s also playing behind a makeshift offensive line that will improve when two-time all-pro David Bakhtiari returns.
Rodgers is the football equivalent of spell check. Every defensive error is identified instantly and embarrassingly, surely making Eberflus wonder how he could’ve possibly missed them. Eberflus said he was unafraid to play rookies like second-rounders Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, and Rodgers was more than happy to test their readiness.
“I knew I was going to be targeted,” Gordon said. “I was prepared all week for that. Definitely some more plays that I need to make and I can make.
“It’s probably gonna happen again next game, so I’ll be preparing for that.”
He went at Gordon on his first pass of the game, getting 14 yards on a throw to Sammy Watkins. He beat Gordon again on the same drive with an eight-yard pass to Allen Lazard on third-and-seven. Gordon answered by breaking up a would-be touchdown pass to Lazard down the right sideline.
Running back Aaron Jones broke 100 yards rushing just four minutes into the second half on his way to 132 and a touchdown, and the Packers finished at 5.3 yards per carry.
“Just gotta tackle — that’s one of the biggest things,” safety Eddie Jackson said. “We missed a lot of tackles in that first half, and we preach tackling. We’ve gotta correct that.”
Everything is about progress this season. And nothing about this performance indicated that they’re any closer to containing Rodgers.
Their next shot is Week 13 at Soldier Field, and a lot could change by then. Perhaps the rookies are on top of it by then and Eberflus has the airtight defense he desires. But Rodgers’ early checkup on the rebuilding defense showed plenty of concerns.