NFL preseason kicked into high gear on Thursday night as 14 different teams took the field for the first time in 2017. Of those 14 teams, all three of the Detroit Lions’ foes in the NFC North were in action.
For all three teams, the preseason got off to a rough start. The Vikings, Bears, and Packers all fell behind early, and while the Vikings and Packers ended up pulling out wins, there was plenty to improve upon. And while the Bears’ first half was pretty disastrous, a beacon of light shined bright in the second half.
Here’s a recap of the NFC North in Week 1 of the preseason.
Green Bay Packers - Defeated Eagles, 24-9
It’s hard to ever gauge a Packers’ preseason game because Aaron Rodgers so rarely plays. He was on the sidelines for the entire game on Thursday, and as a result, Green Bay was roughed up in the first quarter.
Can't really script a more disappointing start for the Packers here. Bad fumble by Montgomery adds to the ugliness.— Acme Packing Company (@acmepackingco) August 11, 2017
The Packers offense, under backup quarterback Brett Hundley, started with a three-and-out and followed it up with a fumble on their fifth offensive play.
But the Packers turned things around in the second quarter when Trevor Davis, the Packers’ fifth-round pick in 2016, returned a punt for a 68-yard touchdown.
Overall it was a pretty ugly game, with both teams combining for seven turnovers. The Packers defense deserves some credit for forcing takeaways in the first half, but ultimately the game proved costly for Green Bay’s health.
Damarious Randall, Don Barclay, Kentrell Brice, Lenzy Pipkins, Raysean Pringle and Malachi Dupre all left with injuries. Dupre’s injury was particularly hard to watch—a vicious hit from safety Tre Sullivan that laid the rookie receiver flat on his back. He gave a thumbs up as he was carted off the field.
Minnesota Vikings - Defeated Bills, 17-10
Much like the Packers, the Vikings first-string offense looked inept in their first action of 2017. The major difference being, of course, the Vikings had their starting quarterback in the game.
Sam Bradford went scoreless in his only three drives of the game, and much of Minnesota’s struggles, again, came from poor offensive line play. Without the services of a healing Riley Reiff, Bradford was sacked once in each of his first two drives.
I'm not gonna over react to the first pre-season game, but man, wish I had seen more from the offense. #Vikings— Ted Glover (@purplebuckeye) August 10, 2017
Rookie running back Dalvin Cook didn’t fare much better, rushing for just 13 yards on five carries. The Vikings, though, relied heavily on the rookie in the passing game. Cook finished with an additional 30 yards on four catches.
The Vikings defense was a mixed bag. At times, the Bills offense—especially their running game—was gashing through the Vikings defense. Jonathan Williams, the Bills’ starting running back ran for 39 yards on just 4 carries.
But Minnesota still has a pretty intimidating pass rush. Everson Griffen still looks like a beast, picking up one sack and nearly tailing a second minutes later.
But the Vikings suffered a pretty significant injury on defense. Cornerback Trae Waynes suffered a shoulder injury in the first quarter and did not return. Apparently the pain was so bad Waynes was vomiting on the sidelines. However, after the game, head coach Mike Zimmer seemed to downplay the injury:
As noted before, Mike Zimmer said not concerned about Trae Waynes’ shoulder. “Just a sore shoulder, I guess.’’— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) August 11, 2017
Chicago Bears - Lost to Broncos, 17-24
No team on Thursday had a worse start than the Chicago Bears. But don’t take my word for it, just watch:
Mike Glennon's night ends with a 0.0 rating.— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) August 11, 2017
Halfway through the first quarter, the Bears found themselves already down 10-0, despite the Broncos only having the ball on offense once.
But the story of the Bears’ day isn’t how it started, but how it finished.
Things got a lot better for the Bears when first-round pick Mitchell Trubisky came in the game. Trubisky took over on the final drive of the second quarter and played forr the rest of the game. He started 9-for-9, for 74 yards and a touchdown. After Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez went scoreless, Trubisky drove his team to two touchdowns in two drives.
Although most of his time was against third and fourth string defenders, Trubisky showed a lot of accuracy and a surprising amount of mobility. Say what you will about his competition, this is one hell of a throw:
Here's Trubisky on the move, throws a strike pic.twitter.com/MnXUpEFwAn— Steve Palazzolo (@PFF_Steve) August 11, 2017
Trubisky finished the day an impressive 18-for-25 for 166 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions (103.1 passer rating). He had one more opportunity to tie the game up late, but couldn’t connect in the back left corner of the endzone as time expired.
We’ll see if the Bears try to throw him out there against better competition as the preseason rolls on.
Elsewhere, the Bears defense flexed its muscles early. Leonard Floyd picked up a sack in his short amount of time on the field, as the rest of the defense made life hard for Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch. In total, the Broncos only put up three offensive points in the first three quarters.