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Bears vs. Packers: Notes from an embarrassing 24-23 loss

The Bears dominated in the first half, but they backed themselves into a corner with lackadaisical clock management and terrible passing.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers
The Bears caught fire in the first half, but they failed to keep their 20-0 lead in tact.
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
  • Khalil Mack got a pressure on his first snap with the Bears. He absolutely bullied Bryan Bulaga on the play, getting inside leverage and hitting an effective bull rush.
  • The Bears kick off their first offensive drive, fittingly enough, in a T-formation, a look that we did not see in the preseason. Could starting off his tenure running a formation that Bears teams of old made famous be a sign of things to come for Matt Nagy?
  • Tarik Cohen is so electric.
  • Mitchell Trubisky hit Taylor Gabriel on a 31-yard out route, flipping field position for Chicago. Here’s to hoping that that play will be the first of many big plays for their offense to come.
  • Charles Leno Jr. lined up as a wide receiver. Twice. Okay then.
  • I absolutely loved what the Bears did offensively on their first drive. Nagy threw in several new formations that fans never saw in the preseason, and he let Trubisky make decisions through the read option. The drive finished off with a two-yard run by Trubisky.
  • Akiem Hicks gets the first sack of the Bears’ season, bringing Aaron Rodgers down with the strip sack. He has been fantastic since joining the Bears in 2016, and it seems as though he could be in for another big year in 2018.
  • Justin McCray got called for holding, preventing what would have otherwise been a 48-yard gain by Ty Montgomery. Instead, Green Bay was forced to punt.
  • Allen Robinson’s first catch as a member of the Bears was a jump ball over Packers rookie Jaire Alexander for a 33-yard gain. Trubisky hit him with a dime, and A-Rob made the snag in tight coverage. Another sign of things to come, methinks.
  • A few plays later, Trubisky hits Robinson on a lazer for a 13-yard gain on the in route. Robinson will likely be Chicago’s best receiver at making catches in tight windows this year.
  • Trubisky should have been able to hit Robinson on a fade route in the end zone. The wide out totally faked out Kevin King and was wide open, but Trubisky overthrew him. Nevertheless, a field goal to extend Chicago’s lead to two possessions is acceptable.
  • The only negative point that I really took away from the first quarter was Nagy’s aggressiveness in using timeouts. He used two of them in the first quarter alone: two timeouts which likely would have been better suited using in the second quarter.
  • Roy Robertson-Harris with help from - guess who - Khalil Mack - brought Rodgers down for a sack, injuring the Packers signal-caller. The Bears already had the lead when he went down, but losing a starting quarterback of Rodgers’ caliber will halt any team’s momentum.
  • Tarik Cohen is boom or bust as a punt returner. He’ll either field a five-yard return, or he’ll make several defenders miss and flip field position for the Bears. On his second punt return of the night, he did the latter.
  • Although a butt fumble occurred, kudos to Matt Nagy for deciding to go for it on fourth down on Green Bay’s side of the field. They weren’t close enough to the end zone to kick a field goal,
  • Akiem Hicks was on fire in the first half. He would finish the game with two tackles and a sack, but his presence was felt beyond the stat sheet. He was a force in the backfield on several plays.
  • Khalil Mack is so so so so good. His first sack as a member of the Bears came as a strip sack, as he stole the ball right out of the hands of DeShone Kizer and fell down with the ball.
  • An unfortunate circumstance for Roquan Smith’s debut: an injury to Danny Trevathan.
  • Lucky for the Bears, though, Smith racked up a sack on his first career NFL snap with help from Khalil Mack on the pressure. One couldn’t ask for a better first play.
  • Mack finished off his phenomenal first half with a pick-six after a pressure from Roy Robertson-Harris! I love this style of Chicago Bears play.
  • The Bears exited the first half of a football game at Lambeau Field with a 17-0 lead. That may have been the best feeling that I have felt as a Bears fan in quite some time.
  • Chicago kicked off their opening drive in the second half with a field goal. While not a touchdown, three points are three points.
  • Kudos to Aaron Rodgers for deciding to come back onto the field after his knee injury. Although not incredibly serious, coming back from an injury like that is not easy. It shows how tough he is, even if Bears fans have been accustomed to dislike him.
  • The Bears sparingly used Roquan Smith in this game, which was pretty disappointing. Nick Kwiatkoski was a liability in coverage, which was one of Smith’s strongest selling points coming out of Georgia.
  • A fast-paced Green Bay offense proves to be effective against Chicago’s defense, as the Packers were able to tire out the Bears en route to a field goal drive.
  • The Bears took their foot off of the gas pedal in the third quarter, running a lot of short passes and running a conservative offense. It’s apples and oranges, sure, but they did the exact same thing against the Buffalo Bills in the last game of the preseason. In case you forgot, the Bills outscored the Bears 25-0 in the final quarter of play.
  • Aaron Rodgers is the best Hail Mary thrower in the NFL, and it isn’t even close. Geronimo Allison beat Kyle Fuller deep for a 39-yard touchdown, and Rodgers placed the ball perfectly.
  • The Bears have so many weapons on their offense, yet they chose to target Dion Sims on third down. While it’s clear that he was on the field as much as he was due to Adam Shaheen’s injury, targeting an unreliable receiver like Sims on an important play like that isn’t necessarily a smart move.
  • A banged-up Prince Amukamara let Davante Adams fly past him for a 52-yard gain, flipping the field and further boosting Green Bay’s momentum.
  • A few plays later, Adams juked out Amukamara for a touchdown, cutting Chicago’s lead down from 20-17. The only real move that the Bears failed to make in the offseason is to find a potential long-term replacement for Amukamara. Although he isn’t bad, it’s clear that he shouldn’t be relied on as the answer alongside Kyle Fuller.
  • On the plus side, Roquan Smith got some more playing time in the fourth quarter and looking pretty good.
  • Trubisky ran on a quarterback sweep on third down and barely got the first down. I nearly had a heart attack in fear that he would miss the mark.
  • Jordan Howard picked up a huge 16-yard gain. That, in addition to Anthony Miller’s 11-yard gain, helped extend the Bears’ late drive and slowly eat away at the momentum that the Packers had mounted throughout the second half. Although the Packers won a challenge and were able to get their second timeout back, the Bears still managed to extend their drive and get into
  • Cody Whitehair threw a snap right over Trubisky’s head, forcing the quarterback to fall on top of the ball to call the play dead.
  • The Bears decided to pass on third-and-one and it backfired. Trubisky threw an incomplete pass, stopping the clock and forcing the team to kick a field goal. It also left two and a half minutes for Aaron Rodgers to try and score a touchdown to win the game.
  • Maybe matching the deal for Kyle Fuller wasn’t such a good idea? It’s one game, sure, but Fuller looked absolutely awful when you consider how much he’s being paid this year. If he had caught that dropped interception, then the Bears would have sealed the deal right then and there. Until he proves that he can stop dropping would-be interceptions, then he’s simply a mediocre cornerback making top-tier money.
  • Speaking of Rodgers scoring, he did just that. Rodgers hit Randall Cobb on third-and-10 on a 75-yard touchdown in predictable fashion. Poor time management and play calling late in the game caused Green Bay to go on a tear late in the game.
  • Cody Whitehair should not be Chicago’s starting center. The Khalil Mack trade and the Roquan Smith signing distracted from the positional controversy a bit, but Whitehair is simply an unacceptable option at the position.
  • The Bears got bailed out like crazy when Clay Matthews got called for roughing the passer.
  • Pardon my language here, but Trubisky absolutely shit the bed late in the game. He lost all sense of poise as the game went on, and his accuracy was terrible late. The blame also falls on Matt Nagy, who was atrocious calling plays in the second half. As was the case with Kyle Shanahan for the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, the Bears were far too conservative and made no attempt to extend their lead. You can’t do that against a legend like Rodgers. He will tear you up and make you pay. Every. Single. Time. You can be a young, innovative offensive mind in the NFL, but you won’t get anywhere as a head coach if you don’t know how to manage a clock. It’s early in Nagy’s career, but he absolutely needs to learn how to manage the clock if he wants to be a successful NFL coach.
  • This team has a lot of work to do, and this game was evidence of that. Matt Nagy has a lot of work to do, and this game was evidence of that, too. The Packers are a good team, and the Bears were blowing them out early in the game. That shows just how good they can be with some fine tuning. However, that fine tuning is absolutely crucial if they want to avoid the basement of the NFC North again. Khalil Mack was a fantastic addition, but this team is not a perfect one. They can be great, but they still have a long way to go in order to get there.

The Bears, who now sit at 0-1, will play the Seattle Seahawks at home next Monday at 7:15 P.M.

Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also the lead NFL Draft analyst for The Blitz Network, and he additionally covers the NFL Draft for USA Today’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or e-mailed at