CHICAGO – The NFL season has arrived. The Bears begin the 2023 season with a rivalry matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
This will mark the long-awaited debut of a new-look Bears team that has invested a lot of money and draft capital in improving the team around quarterback Justin Fields. Sunday will be the first indication of just how much the Bears have improved.
Shaw Local Bears beat reporter Sean Hammond will be reporting live from Soldier Field on Twitter @sean_hammond, on Instagram at @bears_reporter and on Threads at @bears_reporter. Follow Shaw Local Bears analyst Marc Silverman on Twitter at @WaddleandSilvy. For all of Shaw Local’s Bears coverage, follow @bears_insider on Twitter.
Below is everything Bears fans need to prepare for the game, including the latest news and analysis coming out of Bears headquarters in Lake Forest. Stay here all game long, too, for live updates from Soldier Field.
Packers win, 38-20
The Packers finished off a season-opening win over the Bears, 38-20. Jordan Love threw three touchdown passes. The Packers won their ninth consecutive game against the Bears.
Roschon Johnson scores 1st career touchdown
Bears rookie running back Roschon Johnson scored his first NFL touchdown with a 2-yard run late in the fourth quarter. The score came just a few plays after Johnson nearly scored a touchdown moments earlier. He found the pylon on the play, but the refs ruled he stepped out of bounds. A review confirmed that Johnson was out of bounds.
No matter, the rookie scored three plays later. The Packers still led, 38-20, with 2:54 remaining in the game.
Quay Walker intercepts Fields for touchdown
Early in the fourth quarter, Justin Fields zipped a pass over the middle of the field that Packers linebacker Quay Walker picked off and returned 42 yards for a touchdown.
The score was likely the last nail in the coffin for the Bears’ chances in this game. The Packers took a commanding lead, 38-14, with 12:36 remaining to play.
Packers score again, Kyler Gordon leaves game
The Bears couldn’t hold the momentum for long after Darnell Mooney’s touchdown.
The Bears defense completely lost Packers tight end Luke Musgrave and Jordan Love lofted a pass to the rookie for a 37-yard gain. On the next play, Love connected with receiver Romeo Doubs for a touchdown. The Packers answered the Bears’ touchdown with a quick strike of their own. They extended their lead, 31-14.
The score marked Love’s third touchdown pass of the game.
On the possession, Bears cornerback Kyler Gordon left the game with a hand injury. The Bears announced that Gordon will not return to the game.
Fields finds Mooney for a touchdown
After nearly three quarters of frustration, Justin Fields connected with Darnell Mooney on a 20-yard pass for a Bears touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the season for the Bears and it cut into the Packers lead, 24-14. Khalil Herbert scored on a two-point conversion to make it a 10-point game.
The Bears drove 65 yards on six plays, with the help of 10 penalty yards.
Fields loses fumble
After back-to-back touchdown drives for the Packers, the Bears offense needed a spark in the third quarter. Instead, they coughed up the ball.
Justin Fields scrambled on third-and-3 from his own 18-yard line, hoping to pick up a first down. A defender hit him from behind and the ball popped out of his hands. The Packers landed on the fumble for a takeaway.
Packers extend lead to 24-6
Following a Packers touchdown after halftime, the Bears offense failed to pick up a first down on its first possession of the second half. They were forced to punt.
The Packers made them pay. Not long after an impressive Green Bay punt return on special teams, quarterback Jordan Love connected with Aaron Jones for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Jones ran a slant route, caught the ball in the middle of the field and broke free for a huge gain after the catch.
Packers score touchdown after halftime
After the break, Jordan Love found running back Aaron Jones for a 51-yard screen pass to flip the field. Bears cornerback Tyrique Stevenson tackled Jones at the 7-yard line. It was the longest plays of the game thus far.
A few plays later Jones punched the ball in for a 1-yard touchdown. The Packers offensive line made a strong push against the Bears defensive line, which had its second team unit in. Bears defensive linemen Rasheem Green, Dominique Robinson, Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens were in on the goal line situation.
The touchdown extended the Packers lead, 17-6, with 10:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Packers add field goal, lead 10-6 at halftime
The Bears had the ball with less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Justin Fields completed a pass to Darnell Mooney that went for a loss. Packers coach Matt LaFleur sprinted down the sideline to call a timeout. The Packers wanted the ball back.
Two plays later, they got it. Jordan Love helped Green Bay past the 50-yard-line as time ran down. Kicker Anders Carlson made a 52-yard-field goal.
The Packers lead, 10-6, at halftime.
After nice plays from DJ Moore, Santos adds another field goal
The Bears offense couldn’t finish off a red zone trip with a touchdown. Cairo Santos knocked in a 29-yard field goal, which cut into the Packers’ lead, 7-6, with 9:00 to go in the second quarter.
During the possession, Fields picked up a first down on an impressive scramble where he avoided pressure in the pocket. Later, he connected with receiver DJ Moore for back-to-back nice gains. The two catches went for a combined 25 yards.
In the red zone, Fields was sacked by Packers rookie Lukas Van Ness, a Barrington native, for a seven-yard loss.
Cairo Santos puts Bears on the board
Bears kicker Cairo Santos made a 47-yard field goal to get the Bears on the scoreboard. They trail the Packers, 7-3, with 2:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.
The Bears drove 38 yards on seven plays. Justin Fields scrambled toward the sideline and took a hit just as he was about to go out of bounds. His offensive linemen didn’t like it, even though Fields was still in bounds. There was a scuffle along the Bears’ sideline. Receiver Chase Claypool drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but it offset with a Packers penalty.
Two plays later, Claypool dropped a short pass from Fields on third down, which led to the field goal try.
Packers score first
Matt Eberflus’ aggressive decision to go for it at their own 40-yard line backfired for the Bears.
Jordan Love led the Packers 40 yards on 11 plays and scored the game’s first touchdown. On third-and-goal from the 8-yard line, Love connected with receiver Romeo Doubs for a touchdown.
The Packers took a lead, 7-0, after the extra point.
Safety Jaquan Brisker briefly leaves game due to injury
Safety Jaquan Brisker left the game in the first quarter with an apparent injury. Brisker went down after an aggressive tackle of Packers running back Aaron Jones in the red zone.
Brisker dealt with a groin injury for much of training camp and missed more than three weeks of practice in August.
Brisker went into the team’s medical tent for a little while, then came out and rejoined his defensive teammates on the bench.
Matt Eberflus gets aggressive early
Head coach Matt Eberflus was generally conservative in his in-game decision making during his first season in 2022. It didn’t take long for that to change Sunday.
Facing a third-and-1 on the opening possession, tight end Cole Kmet ran a tight end sneak that came up inches short of the line to gain. On fourth down, Eberflus kept his offense on the field and ran another sneak with Fields. The QB was ruled short of the line to gain and the Bears turned the ball over on downs.
The aggressiveness backfired and the Packers took over in Bears territory.
Velus Jones Jr., Equanimeous St. Brown listed as inactive
With seven wide receivers on the roster, at least one was likely to be listed as inactive Sunday. Turns out, it was two. Velus Jones Jr. and Equanimeous St. Brown are both inactive Sunday and will not play.
Additionally, quarterback Tyson Bagent is inactive, but will be the team’s third quarterback in an emergency. Defensive end Khalid Kareem, safety Quindell Johnson and tight end Stephen Carlson are also inactive.
Robert Tonyan, who was questionable with a back injury, is active and will play.
Big rivalry matchup
There are so many questions up in the air as the 2023 season begins. That goes for the Bears and for the Packers.
Jordan Love will become just the third Packers quarterback to start a Week 1 game in the past 30 years, joining former MVPs Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Love, a 2020 first-round draft pick, ascended to the starting job after the Packers traded Rodgers to the Jets in the spring.
The Bears aren’t quite sure what to expect from Love and the Packers. The 24-year-old has started only one NFL game in his three-year pro career.
The Bears, meanwhile, have worked hard to improve their passing attack. Fields was electric as a running quarterback last season, and he still could be in 2023, but the Bears clearly want him throwing the football more and taking fewer hits as a runner.
The biggest acquisition of the offseason was receiver DJ Moore, who is expected to be the Bears’ top receiver. The Bears acquired Moore in the trade that sent the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Carolina Panthers.
The team voted Moore one of four team captains. He’s a soft-spoken guy who lets his game do the talking.
The latest injury news
Bears lineman Nate Davis, who is expected to start at right guard, missed one day of practice this week due to personal reasons, but was back in action Friday and is expected to play in Sunday’s game.
Other than left guard Teven Jenkins, who is on injured reserve with a leg injury, the Bears’ starting lineup appears to be quite healthy. Jenkins is the only starter who is expected to miss Sunday’s game. The Bears have shifted veteran center Cody Whitehair over to Jenkins’ left guard spot and moved backup Lucas Patrick into the starting lineup at center.
The Bears sent out a late injury update Saturday and noted that tight end Robert Tonyan is now questionable with a back injury. Tonyan had not previously been listed on the team’s injury report. The team also cut linebacker Dylan Cole, who was injured for much of the past month, and elevated tight end Stephen Carlson and linebacker DeMarquis Gates to the active roster from the practice squad.
As for the Packers, receiver Christian Watson was ruled out this week due to a hamstring injury. Fellow receiver Romeo Doubs, who also has a hamstring injury is expected to play but could be limited, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
What to expect from this matchup
Shaw Local has plenty of coverage to get fans ready for the game.
Here are five storylines to watch in Sunday’s matchup. Silvy is ready for Bears-Packers to be a rivalry again. Here are his expectations for the game Sunday.
The Bears have totally revamped their roster since last season’s 3-14 debacle. Here’s a look at three reasons for optimism and three reasons for concern heading into the 2023 season.
If you’re looking for some pregame listening, check out Shaw Local’s Bears Insider podcast here.
Will the offensive line be improved?
Much attention has been focused on the Bears’ offensive line over the offseason. The Bears signed Davis in free agency and drafted right tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall draft pick.
The offensive line is going to be critical for Fields. If the QB is going to take the next step in his development, the line has to be rock solid in front of him.
With Jenkins out, the expected starting five should look like this: Braxton Jones at left tackle, Whitehair at left guard, Patrick at center, Davis at right guard and Wright at right tackle.
What else did I miss this week?
Here’s the latest out of Halas Hall in Lake Forest.