Mike McCarthy backed up his strong choice of words by leading the Packers into Chicago and kicking the Bears’ ... well, you know the quote by now.
With Sunday’s victory, Green Bay continued its recent dominance over its oldest rival. The Packers have won four in a row against Chicago, as well as 10 of the last 11 games between the two NFC North foes.
Here are the five biggest takeaways from Green Bay’s 31-23 win:
1. James Jones signing pays huge early dividends
A week earlier, Jones was turning in his New York Giants gear after getting released. Sunday in Chicago, Jones was the difference-maker for Green Bay’s offense.
Jones had two touchdowns and a third one that was only wiped away due to a holding penalty on David Bakhtiari. Whether Jones was reaching over the shoulder of cornerback Alan Ball or getting his feet in bounds while diving near the sideline of the end zone, these were far from routine catches.
The trust that Jones established with Aaron Rodgers from 2008-2013 was noticeable right away. When Rodgers needed a receiver to make a big play, he went to Jones. In a season in which Jordy Nelson will be sidelined due to a torn ACL, this was a very positive sign for the Packers that their offense could still be great.
Some might have forgotten that Jones is just two seasons removed from leading the NFL with 14 touchdown catches, but he reminded everyone of that fact Sunday.
2. Rodgers’ efficiency
It can be easy to overlook a great performance from Rodgers. After all, he’s a two-time NFL Most Valuable Player and is coming off a season in which he had 38 touchdown passes and five interceptions.
But without Nelson by his side and with Cobb hampered by a shoulder injury, Rodgers didn’t miss a beat. He completed 18 of 23 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions, finishing the day with a 140.5 passer rating.
Rodgers spread the ball around, too. Cobb had five receptions, Jones and Davante Adams both had four, Richard Rodgers had three and Eddie Lacy had two.
There were Brett Favre-esque shovel passes and Rodgers-esque back-shoulder throws. Rodgers also took off and ran the ball eight times for 35 yards, including a 15-yard gain. Chicago isn’t going to have a strong defense this season, but Rodgers picked the Bears apart and carried over his incredible efficiency from last season.
3. Clay Matthews: game-changer at inside linebacker
This wasn’t a "same old Jay" type of throw. This was the case of a star linebacker making a play that few in the world could have made.
Lined up at inside linebacker, Matthews dropped back into coverage, quickly entered into the passing zone in front of tight end Martellus Bennett and snagged a pass out of the air with his hands. Remaining in stride, Matthews then returned it 42 yards the other way.
At the time, the Packers led, 24-16, and the Bears were marching down the field in the fourth quarter. Matthews changed that in one play and effectively sealed the win for Green Bay.
Matthews has mostly been known for sacking quarterbacks in his career. It’s the skill that earned him a $66 million contract extension two years ago. But without a sack Sunday, Matthews showed how valuable he is to the Packers and provided further evidence as to why McCarthy and Dom Capers were wise to move him inside last season.
4. Problems stopping the run
It wasn’t all positive for Green Bay in this game. Matt Forte ran wild on the Packers to the tune of 141 yards in 24 carries (5.9 average).
For as much as Capers’ philosophy is structured towards stopping the long-gain plays, it’s never good when a running back is able to reel off six yards at a time. Forte’s success on the ground was a big reason for Green Bay losing the time of possession battle.
The Packers were the worst team in the league at defending the run in the first half of 2014, and this performance looked a lot like that. With Marshawn Lynch and Jamaal Charles set to face Green Bay in the next two weeks, the Packers’ defense could be in for a couple long nights if this area of their game doesn’t improve quickly.
5. Ty Montgomery instantly improves kick return game
It took Montgomery one play to match the best kick return that Green Bay had all of last season. The DuJuan Harris experiment was an unsuccessful one, and that plug was pulled this past offseason. Montgomery was an immediate upgrade.
Coming out of halftime with the Packers trailing by three points, Montgomery gave Green Bay excellent field position with a 46-yard kick return. So, 41 yards on his first attempt (matching the Packers’ best return of 2014), and then a 46-yarder to top it.
Even if Montgomery doesn’t produce much on offense this season, he’ll turn out to be a very good third-round pick if the rest of his rookie year looks like this.