Packers: Top five performers vs. Bears in season opener win
By Jesse Fry
5. Jimmy Graham
Before I get to my final player, I’d be a fool not to mention JK Scott. I’ve given glory to punters before — Scott was a on my list of top players a few times last season. But I couldn’t let defense and special teams have all the glory.
Scott punted well. He flipped field position and kept the Bears’ return game at bay with his long, high punts. But it was good to see glimpses of the Jimmy Graham of old.
The offense is a work in progress, that’s to be expected. When the moment asked for someone to step up, Graham obliged. In what looked like an errant throw, Graham came down with the only touchdown in the game. Rodgers flung a pass in between two Bears players as well as two Packers.
Geronimo Allison and Graham were both in the area of the ball. Be it a wrong route run or a miscommunication, the pass had no business being there. Instead of a back-breaking interception, Graham used his big body to box out the defender and make the catch.
Later in the game, Graham took a short four-yard completion and turned it into something more, highlighted by a leap over the defender. Graham caught a lot of flak for his play last season and rightfully so. As Gutekunst’s big free agent signing, he was expected to produce more than he did. In this game, Graham shook off an injured finger and proved to be the second best target on the field after Davante Adams.
If Graham can keep up this pace, he, along with the free agents signed this year, will prove why draft-and-develop will only get you so far and that free agency should be a tool to use, not just an afterthought.
The Packers have a long way to go. What we see now will not be the product we see in November and December. Baring injury, both phases will get better. Aaron Rodgers and the offense will not be stuck in neutral forever. And the defense met Chicago’s play for play, something to hang their hat on and build from. We have yet to see the Packers’ highest draft pick Rashan Gary or Kevin King for a whole game. These guys will get better.
Though this game wasn’t the offensive explosion we’re used to, I’ll take a strong defensive output and a victory. Because I know with a two-time MVP under center, the offense will catch up. Next, the Packers are home for the Vikings and another division rival.
But for now, let’s enjoy a Week 1 win, no matter how it came.