Packers: Positives, negatives from win vs. Bears in season opener

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 05: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers is brought down by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on September 05, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 05: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers is brought down by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix #21 of the Chicago Bears during the second half at Soldier Field on September 05, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

What were the positives and negatives from the Green Bay Packers’ victory in the 2019 season opener?

The Packers won in a very non-Packers like way Thursday night to capture their first of the year.

Here are some positives and negatives from the win:

Positive: Preston Smith

Preston Smith was the exact type of free agent signing that GM Brian Gutekunst appears to love.

Trey Flowers, who may not be any better than Smith as an overall player, signed a far more lucrative deal with the Lions. Smith, on the other hand, signed for an expensive but manageable four-year, $52 million deal with only $16 million fully guaranteed.

Smith was absolutely awesome in Green Bay’s opener against the Bears. In an incredibly refreshing turn, Smith provided consistent pressure on Mitch Trubisky in ways Clay Matthews and Nick Perry hadn’t in ages.

But Smith’s best work came against the run. Against a talented stable of running backs, Smith didn’t surrender an inch on his side of the field. With Za’Darius Smith on the other side, the Packers run defense could be in line for a huge year. Smith has always been one of the most underrated players in football, and opening night against the Bears was no exception.

Negative: Aaron Rodgers

It just needs to be said. Aaron Rodgers has not looked as good as he used to be for over a season now. Make no mistake — Rodgers is still one of the three or four best quarterbacks in all of football, but his slightly diminished athleticism was present against the Bears.

Packers fans remember his jaw-dropping scramble against Thomas Davis of the Panthers in 2015, as well as his simply ridiculous touchdown against the Dolphins early on in the 2014 season.

Against the Bears, his attempts to scramble were just slightly less dynamic. That is only going to get worse with time, and perhaps injuries over the years have begun to limit Rodgers’ mobility. Rodgers’ unprecedented arm talent won’t disappear, but his ability to simply break apart a defense’s will outside the pocket might not quite be the same anymore.

Positive: Blake Martinez

Blake Martinez has been excruciatingly tantalizing through his first three years in Green Bay. Now in a contract year, it’s time for Martinez to either play like he did Thursday night over a full season and get a contract extension, or become a free agent after the season.

So often in recent history, the Packers defense, including the linebacker position, was marred by missed tackles, completely blown assignments, and a glaring lack of athleticism.

Martinez might not be the most athletic player in the world, but he was so solid for the Packers Thursday night. Any time a Bears running back was fortunate enough to make it past the fierce Green Bay front, Martinez limited the damage.

Gutekunst is still looking for an adequate partner in crime to put next to him. B.J. Goodson shouldn’t have too hard a time adjusting to the Green Bay defense next to someone as fundamentally sound as Martinez.

Negative: Geronimo Allison

Just because Geronimo Allison didn’t have a catch in Week 1 doesn’t necessarily mean anything concerning is going on with the team’s third-year wideout, but it is worth noting that the Packers badly need Allison to mature into a true secondary threat.

Opposing defenses are going to pay all the attention in the world to Davante Adams, opening up the opposite receiver position considerably. Allison needs to bet able to get open against defensive backs to loosen up this offense.

Allison has himself an opportunity to play himself into a little bit of money after this season. The Packers are becoming slightly cap-strapped after last offseason’s free agency splurge. Kenny Clark is also in line for a mega-deal, and Blake Martinez is sniffing around for a contract extension. Allison may be the odd one out in Green Bay, especially if he no-shows like he did in Week 1.

Positive: Darnell Savage Jr.

The first half was really encouraging for the Green Bay secondary. Adrian Amos got most of the noise for his interception at the end of the game, but the Packers’ second first-round pick out of Maryland showed traits that the team has not had at the position in years. Savage showed consistent closing speed as well as an instinctive series of plays that got the Packers going in the first half.

For a defense that struggled throughout the prime of Aaron Rodgers’ career, a performance like that was overdue. The team showed that even with a poor night from their offense, they can still come through with a big win. Savage is still somewhat raw, but the presence of Amos next to him will dramatically change the back end of the defense for the Packers.

If Za’Darius and Preston Smith continue to be as strong up front as they were against the Bears, they will have themselves a great time making it easier on Amos and Savage to step up and complete what should be a great defense.

Negative: Aaron Jones

There’s nothing to really be worried about when it comes to Aaron Jones, but the Packers badly need his balance offensively. They got none of it against the Bears. Jamaal Williams is passable as a backup running back, but the Packers need Jones to be the workhorse.

Matt LaFleur, Nathaniel Hackett and the entire offensive staff of the Packers need to figure out how to maximize Jones’ ability and free up the passing game some.

Opposing defenses are still likely going to be paying the majority of their attention to Davante Adams. Jimmy Graham should still see a fair amount of targets, but it’s up to Jones to provide the second dimension to the offense.

Next. Stock up, stock down for Packers after Week 1 win. dark

The Packers running back was criminally underused by Mike McCarthy, and while LaFleur didn’t ignore him by any stretch, he couldn’t get him going. Jones has some pressure on him entering Week 2.