Rodgers: 'I'm going to be a lot better moving forward'

  • By Adam Maya
More Columns >

It's a new era in Green Bay.

Look no further than quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was in a celebratory mood Thursday despite his own play. On a night in which he was corralled by the Bears' defense, he couldn't contain his feelings for his coaches as the Packers sealed its 10-3 season-opening victory.

It started with A-Rod seeking out defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and shoving him in congratulatory fashion. Rodgers then held onto the football following his final knee so that he could gift it to rookie coach Matt LaFleur. The pigskin came with a promise.

"It's a big deal winning your first NFL game as a head coach, and I'm happy for him," Rodgers said, per ESPN. "Obviously, it's a lot of fun working with him. And I told him, 'I'm going to be a lot better moving forward.'"

After a first quarter in which the Packers had minus-12 total yards, Rodgers said his thinking was, "It can't get any worse."

Technically, it didn't, as the perennial Pro Bowler promptly led the Packers on their lone touchdown drive early in the second quarter. Rodgers completed all four of his passes for 74 yards and a touchdown to tight end Jimmy Graham.

The rest of Rodgers' night: 14 of 26 for 129 yards. His modest line included just four completions to go-to target Davante Adams for 36 yards.

"We just had too many penalties tonight and just took off on a couple of plays. We've got to find ways to get the ball to Davante. I thought they had a good plan for him tonight. A lot of (coverage) on him and guys shading his direction. ...

"That's a really good defense, and they're going to give a lot of people fits. But I think from my standpoint, I can do a better job getting us out of the huddle, and obviously, I missed a couple throws."

LaFleur said afterward he knew the performance would elicit scrutiny for having Rodgers and Green Bay's offensive starters miss the preseason. Opening night at Soldier Field against arguably the league's best defense is a tough setting to debut a new offense. Accordingly, the Bears held the Packers to 213 total yards, 47 rushing yards, 3.7 yards per play, 13 first downs and 2 of 12 on third downs, all while sacking Rodgers five times.

It will give LaFleur a lot to look at in the days ahead. But the offensive malaise didn't overshadow the thrill of earning his first win.

"Hindsight's 20-20, and I knew if we didn't come out and perform well, there were going to be questions asked," LaFleur said. "We'll evaluate everything going forward. ...

"There's going to be a lot to learn tomorrow, and, you know, it starts with myself. Just can't tell you how proud I am of the effort we gave, though, and to come out of here with a victory."