NFL: Flustered Aaron Rodgers refocuses on mastery of rival Bears
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers showed visible frustration when the team’s first offensive play of the season went awry.
A would-be 75-yard touchdown pass slipped through the hands of rookie wide receiver Christian Watson, a harbinger of sorts for an offense that stalled during a 23-7 road loss to Minnesota in Week 1.
Green Bay (0-1) hopes another week of practice brings cohesion to the passing game as the Packers prepare to host the NFC North rival Chicago Bears on Sunday night. It should also help matters to have perceived No. 1 wide receiver Allen Lazard back following a one-week absence to heal his awkward ankle injury.
As Packers coach Matt LaFleur sees it, Rodgers has taken it upon himself of getting the newest members of the receiving corps up to speed.
“He’s done a great job demanding the urgency of those young guys, yet putting his arm around them at the same time,” LaFleur said. “Because we know there’s going to be a learning curve. You can’t expect it otherwise.”
One thing LaFleur and his team have going for them is their opponent. Rodgers’ 61 career touchdown passes vs. the Bears are his most against any team. His past four starts versus the Bears have been especially solid, with Rodgers accounting for 15 touchdowns, 14 through the air, to go with a 141.5 passer rating.
And last season Rodgers spiced up the rivalry in Week 6, yelling “I still own you!” in the direction of a Bears fan at Soldier Field.
Green Bay was en route to earning a 24-14 road victory which preceded a 45-30 home win against the Bears in Week 14. That game marked Green Bay’s 20th victory in the past 23 regular-season meetings with Chicago. The Packers have also won 12 the last 14 meetings at Lambeau Field.
But many of Rodgers’ current receivers are new to the historic rivalry.
“The most important thing is to communicate with them. And figure out what style works best for them,” Rodgers said on Wednesday.
Lazard, a limited participant in Wednesday’s practice, missed the Minnesota loss after being stepped on by a teammate in practice.
“It wasn’t a good feeling, physically or mentally, given the situation and everything,” he said. “I always look at injuries as a positive, in a sense of like, yes, it was an unfortunate situation but maybe if I would’ve kept practicing, maybe if I would’ve played in the game on Sunday, then a more detrimental injury would have taken place or something like that.”
Bears rookie defensive back Kyler Gordon, for one, is embracing the challenge of facing Rodgers, who has seen his share of defensive fronts in his career.
“Just try to make it as hard as humanly possible, whether that be disguise or playing into that,” the second-round pick out of Washington said. “Playing your own mind game or head game or whatever you can do to throw him off his own game. Just making it as hard as we can on him.”
Chicago (1-0) is coming off a 19-10 upset of San Francisco in the season opener. Playing on a soggy Soldier Field and navigating persistent rain, the Bears benefited from a pair of Justin Fields touchdown passes as the team won in Matt Eberflus’ debut as head coach.
Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy got the right rhythm with a deluge — an estimated 4.2 inches of rain fell in the area, mostly during the 1 p.m. ET-4 p.m. ET game window — that might’ve helped slow the 49ers’ strong pass rush. Getsy might glance at the forecast for Green Bay with mixed emotions as more rain is in the forecast for Sunday night.
Green Bay is hoping for good news on left tackle David Bakhtiari and left guard Elgton Jenkins, who were also limited Wednesday and didn’t play in Minnesota.
Running back David Montgomery looks to get going for the Bears after gaining 50 scrimmage yards against San Francisco. Montgomery has averaged 90 scrimmage yards in five career games against Green Bay.
–Field Level Media