The Green Bay Packers got off to another slow start in 2022 with a disappointing loss to the Minnesota Vikings. If they want to get back on track, especially on offense, then Aaron Rodgers is going to need to pick on the young secondary for the Chicago Bears.
Rodgers had a brutal game by his standards on Sunday, completing 22 of 34 passes for just 195 yards and an interception. His passer rating of 67.7 was the lowest he’s had in a game since Week 1 of last season in the 38-3 blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints.
While the numbers weren’t pretty, the film was even worse for Rodgers. The 38-year-old quarterback routinely missed (or at worst refused to throw to) wide open receivers, either because he didn’t see them or didn’t trust them to make a play. Pass protection was a problem, with Rodgers being sacked four times, but the film showed the back-to-back MVP leaving tons of big plays on the table by not throwing to open receivers.
If the Packers want to come away with a convincing win this week on Sunday Night Football, that can’t be the case. Chicago’s secondary features a pair of rookies that, while talented, need a rude awakening to the challenges of going up against superstar quarterbacks.
The Bears used their first two picks in the 2022 NFL Draft to take cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, with both rookies being taken in the second round. The two defensive backs are tremendously athletic, and while they showed real playmaking ability in the preseason, it’s unclear if that will carry over into 2022.
Week 1 is a hard game to analyze for the Bears rookies, with the game being played in a flooded Soldier Field that made it difficult for either side to move the ball. However, it’s worth noting that Gordon was targeted five times according to PFF, allowing a reception on all five targets for 70 yards and an opposing passer rating of 118.8. Brisker faired better, allowing just two yards on one reception out of three targets.
Rodgers will need to exploit that matchup with Gordon, who played 46 of his 68 defensive snaps in the slot. Randall Cobb could be in line for a big game if Rodgers and head coach Matt LaFleur want to exploit that matchup in the slot, but they could also use Robert Tonyan, Allen Lazard, or potentially Christian Watson to try and make things difficult on Gordon.
Attacking rookies in the secondary will be key for Green Bay, both because of the lack of experience the Packers have at wide receiver, but also the talent Chicago has with some of its veteran defensive backs. Jaylon Johnson and Eddie Jackson have had some rough games historically against the Packers, but they’re talented DBs who will no longer be tasked with handling an elite WR like Davante Adams.
Rodgers is 22-5 over his career in the regular season against the Bears, posting a 109.2 passer rating with 61 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions. He’s hoping to continue to dominate his NFC North rival with another big showing, but if he is going to do that with the weapons currently at his disposal, then the Packers will need to gameplan and find a way to get Chicago’s rookies into disadvantageous situations.