GREEN BAY – The conjecture, prognostication and debate over what the 2019 Green Bay Packers offense looks like ends to a degree Thursday night in Chicago.
The starting 11 have not repped a single play together against an opponent other than their own defense, and really, while the group feels prepared and confident in a new system after five weeks of practice, the players are about as done with it as everyone who has been talking about it
“We need a measuring stick,” running back Aaron Jones said. “We need a place to start.”
Added wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling: “It’s a whole new identity that we’re building. But it’s not going to be built in Week 1. We have a basis of what we like to do and who we are, but we won’t be able to see what works until we actually get into a game. Obviously, it’s going to be different from Week 1 to Week 8 because by that time we’ll know exactly what we’re really good at and what we’re not so good at. That first week we’re going to figure out what’s been working in camp, what things can beat this defense and go from there. But it’s definitely going to be different down the road when we know our identity 100%.”
There is definitely respect for the Chicago Bears' defense and new coordinator Chuck Pagano, but at this juncture the members of the Packers' offense are just looking forward to going out and doing what they’ve been working on for so long.
And they realize what it looks like Thursday is only the first of many steps along the way.
“Everybody needs to understand this is going to be the first iteration of our offense and because it’s a new scheme and there are new pieces, this is going to grow from this point,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “I’m excited about the stuff we have in and the stuff we’ve been working on in camp. There’s going to be even more. I think that’s the exciting part. I like the foundational start for this offense. I think it could be tough to stop because of the stress it puts on the defense with their eye control and pattern-reading and reading the alignments.”
Geronimo Allison nodded at that assessment.
“That makes a lot of sense because we have those little shocks to go against different opponents in the preseason, but a lot of us haven’t been out there amongst each other, with each other, making it operate and kind of just being in practice mode,” Allison said. “Practice mode and game mode is kind of a little different. Collectively, we want to feel that Week 1 feel of an opponent and actually put in our tendencies and execution out there on the field to kind of see how it matches up. We feel confident in the offense. We like it. All for us are in good spots.”
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett said the important part of Thursday will be following the rules of the offense — sticking to its foundation — as they navigate the uncharted waters of taking his offense off the tablet and practice field to game play. The bedrock of that foundation is the run game, and even though the starting five offensive linemen, tight ends, fullback Danny Vitale and running back Jones haven’t actually worked together at game speed, there is confidence among that group that it's at least ready to go.
“We’ve put in the work to play at a high level,” left guard Lane Taylor said. “I think we all believe we play at a high level, execute the offense at a high level and we’ve done that in practice, too. But it will be good to get that game experience under our belt together as a team. Obviously, there’s going to be stuff we need to clean up, but we’re all confident in the game plan.”
But until that happens, even now, they won’t know what that looks like until they see it unfold like everyone else.
“You gotta know your team’s identity and the things you do well and the things you don’t and just plan on it from there,” Jones said.