It was a good win over a bitter rival for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, but it was a tough one to get through in terms of injuries. Three starters left the game due to injury and did not return, with outside linebacker Preston Smith’s absence being one of the most difficult to replace.
Center Josh Myers and safety Darnell Savage also left, but their absences were more of a 1-for-1 swap in with their backups. On the edge, the Packers have been rotating players heavily of late, so it was not as simple as just plugging in backup Jonathan Garvin for Smith.
Garvin did get more snaps than usual in this game, but a handful of other players also took snaps on the outside, including La’Darius Hamilton, Oren Burks, and Jaylon Smith. Ultimately, though, the Packers’ pass rush came from the interior of the defensive line, where Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry led the charge.
Here’s how the Packers’ playing time broke down in their 24-14 victory over the Bears.
OFFENSE (59 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 59
It was a modest day from a counting stats perspective for Rodgers, but his efficiency was without question. Rodgers completed all 15 passes he attempted within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, finishing the day 17-for-23 for 195 yards and two touchdowns while adding a rushing score as well. Those numbers were good for a passer rating of 128.0, the ninth time in Rodgers’ career that he has posted a rating over 125 against the Bears.
Aaron Jones 35, AJ Dillon 25
Both of the Packers’ running backs had an explosive run in Sunday’s game and were efficient at different times. Jones ran for 76 yards on 13 carries, adding 34 receiving yards and a score on four receptions. Jones’ long was 28 yards, and he was effective during the middle of the game. Dillon picked up 59 yards on the ground on 11 carries, though he did little on his other six carries early. But he picked up a pair of first downs with his legs on the final drive, running out the clock on the Packers’ 10-point victory.
These two continue to be a difficult matchup for opponents, and their usage was ideal in this game. Jones took about two-thirds of the reps while the game was competitive, then Dillon entered to punish and run straight through the defense late to close it out.
Davante Adams 50, Allen Lazard 50, Randall Cobb 23, Equanimeous St. Brown 12, Amari Rodgers 6, Juwann Winfree 2
Adams and Lazard led the way for the receivers in this game, with the rest of the wideouts seeing exactly one target — a 14-yard catch by Rodgers. Note that St. Brown’s touchdown should have counted, as he neither pushed off notably to draw an OPI penalty nor was he out of bounds. That play will surely go down as a big plus in film study for the fourth-year wideout.
Instead, Adams saw just five targets on the day, with the Packers focused on the run game. He was exceptionally efficient with them, however, catching four balls for 89 yards and expanding his career-high yards per catch average to 14.5. Adams’ five targets were his fewest in a game since week two of last season, when he was targeted just three times in a game that he left early with an injury; the last time he saw that few targets while fully healthy for an entire game was in week three of 2019 against Denver (4 targets for 56 yards).
Lazard showed up a bit in this game, catching the first pass of the day from Rodgers on a nifty slant over the middle and adding a one-yard touchdown on a beautifully-designed shovel pass.
Marcedes Lewis 40, Robert Tonyan 37, Josiah Deguara 15
Is Lewis formally TE1 now? He has consistently out-snapped Tonyan and has even been a more frequent receiving weapon over the past few weeks. Lewis caught two passes for 17 yards, while Big Bob pulled in just two catches of his own for only ten yards. The Packers used even more 12 personnel in this game than usual as they worked to get the run game going and give the offensive line extra help.
Elgton Jenkins 59, Jon Runyan, Jr., 59, Royce Newman 59, Billy Turner 59, Lucas Patrick 55, Josh Myers 4
Part of the reason the line needed that help was because of issues on the interior. Myers left the game with a knee injury early and will likely be out a few weeks. That left Patrick to come in at center, where he started and played a full game last week. Jenkins’ return sent Yosh Nijman back to the bench, but Royce Newman continues to be the weak link up front, with at least a few mental errors that led to a sack or two.
The question for this week will be whether David Bakhtiari is ready to return from the PUP list following his ACL tear last New Year’s Eve. If he does, Jenkins’ placement will be an interesting one to watch — does he fill in at center for Myers or move to guard, perhaps bumping Runyan to right guard and Newman to the bench? Stay tuned.
DEFENSE (61 total plays)
Kenny Clark 50, Dean Lowry 46, Kingsley Keke 26, Tyler Lancaster 19, T.J. Slaton 7
Very briefly, the Packers saw Clark go down with a minor injury in the first half, but whatever happened to him was not enough to keep him off the field for more than a few snaps. It’s a good thing, because Clark once again dominated the line of scrimmage and was rewarded with a pair of sacks on Justin Fields on the Bears’ final drive. Lowry added a sack as well and has a nice game on the interior, causing at least a few additional pressures.
Rashan Gary 49, Jonathan Garvin 44, La’Darius Hamilton 12, Preston Smith 8
An oblique injury sidelined Smith for most of this game, forcing Garvin into starters’ reps for much of the contest. He responded with a coverage sack on Fields and a pair of tackles, while Gary had a QB hit and four tackles of his own. If Smith’s injury is at all serious, the Packers may need to look outside the organization for some additional help to fill in for his snaps and keep Gary fresh.
De’Vondre Campbell 61, Oren Burks 19, Jaylon Smith 17, Krys Barnes 13
As usual, Campbell played every down and was a solid force in the middle of the defense. The Packers rotated the players next to him, however, with Jaylon Smith taking some of Krys Barnes’ usual snaps in base and Burks coming on for some nickel reps. Both Burks and Smith also lined up on the edge on a few occasions, likely to spell Gary and Garvin with no healthy fourth edge rusher.
In total, the unit made only modest contributions, with Campbell leading the team with just six tackles. But perhaps that is for the best, as the line was doing a good job at the point of attack in front of them.
Adrian Amos 61, Henry Black 37, Darnell Savage 31
Savage’s concussion will hopefully not keep him out a long time, as the Packers have been loath to suit up more than these three safeties at any point this year. Black continued to get a few reps as the dime linebacker early before taking over as Savage’s replacement late.
Savage did come down with a pick early in the game on Fields’ heave into the end zone on what he thought was a free play. Amos nearly had another on a similar strange throw, though he could not quite secure the football with his first foot on the ground.
Eric Stokes 61, Rasul Douglas 52, Chandon Sullivan 46, Isaac Yiadom 9, Shemar Jean-Charles 3
Yiadom and Stokes started the game on the outside, but Joe Barry had a quick hook for Yiadom after he allowed a 20-yard gain and committed a 26-yard pass interference penalty in the end zone on the opening drive. Douglas came on and immediately settled the unit down; his stats for the rest of the game tell the story:
Rasul Douglas— Jake Morley (@JacobMorley) October 18, 2021
NFL QB Rating: 66.0
All told, the corner group did a decent job, limiting the Bears’ receivers to just over 100 yards as a unit, while the only touchdown from the wideouts — to Darnell Mooney — was the fault of a Barnes error in zone coverage.
SPECIAL TEAMS SNAP LEADERS
Deguara 18, Black 17, Burks 17, Ty Summers 16, Jean-Charles 15, St. Brown 13, Kylin Hill 11