GREEN BAY, Wis. – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers eats young defensive backs alive. When he looked across the field at the Bears’ defense on Sunday night at Lambeau Field, he saw two rookies starting on the back end.
Over the next three hours, he systematically exploited that.
Rodgers zeroed in on Bears’ rookie cornerback Kyler Gordon. In the first half alone, Rodgers targeted Gordon at least 10 times, according to NFL Next Gen Stats. In that first half, Gordon allowed seven receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown.
Rodgers led three touchdown scoring drive in the first half and his Packers won, 27-10, on Sunday Night Football.
“There’s definitely a lot of things that I want to do better,” Gordon said. “There’s definitely more plays out there that I know I can make. It’s really just a learning experience for me to take back go back and learn from.”
As he did in a Week 1 win over the San Francisco 49ers last week, Gordon lined up out wide in the Bears’ base defense, but played the nickel corner when the Bears used five defensive backs – which is typically the majority of the game. The Packers exploited that. They rarely needed to throw anywhere near Bears’ top cornerback Jaylon Johnson.
Instead, they went after Gordon.
Look no further than the final Packers’ scoring drive of that first half. With time winding down in the second quarter, Rodgers escaped the pocket on a second down play and connected with receiver Randall Cobb. Cobb had a step on Gordon, who was in one-on-one coverage against the veteran receiver.
One play later, the Packers lined up receiver Allen Lazard against Gordon in the slot. Lazard made a quick move, then cut inside on a slant route. Rodger hit him perfectly in stride for a touchdown. The Packers extended their lead to three possessions.
Gordon, the team’s top draft pick last spring at 39th overall, has a bright future ahead of him. But Sunday night’s game wasn’t a great example. It’s hard to blame the rookie. When the two-time defending MVP quarterback wanted to attack him, specifically, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do.
That’s what great quarterbacks do.
This was the second consecutive year that Rodgers exploited the matchups he wanted against the Bears at Lambeau Field. In Sunday’s win, as in a matchup in December at Lambeau, Rodgers pretty much got away with throwing the ball away from Johnson.
Johnson’s advice to Gordon was to “keep playing.”
“It’s just part of the league,” Johnson said. “Everybody’s going to have those games where people go at ‘em. It happens to the best of us and it’s part of playing the cornerback position, especially going against a Hall of Fame quarterback. Really, there’s ain’t too much to say. Keep moving forward. He did some good things and there’s some things to learn from.”
The Bears tried to make things interesting late in the game. Quarterback Justin Fields had an opportunity to pull his team within a possession midway through the fourth quarter. On fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, Fields held onto a QB keeper, but the Packers defense stuffed him just short of the end zone.
The Bears were down by 14 points at the time and a touchdown would’ve cut the lead to a touchdown.
Following the turnover on downs, Rodgers went right back to the well. He saw receiver Sammy Watkins lined up one-on-one across from Gordon. Watkins beat Gordon and Rodgers hit him for a 55-yard gain, which all but sealed the game for the Packers.