We're Black and Blue All Over:
NOT FAR FROM GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Well. Our 2011 regular season got off to a bang Thursday night, didn't it? In a few hours, I'll post our weekly Free Head Exam post to review the Green Bay Packers' 42-34 victory against the New Orleans Saints, discussing among other things quarterback Aaron Rodgers' uncharacteristic postgame expression of vengeance.
My plans for Friday also include a Final Word on the rest of Sunday's games, which obviously and unavoidably have gotten the short shrift here this week. At some point, I also need to make it back to NFC North blog headquarters. But while we have a moment, let's catch some reaction to the game from around the country and also spin ourselves around the division:
Rodgers turned three post-game questions into opportunities to point out the Packers' offense was sharp despite choosing not to work out together in the offseason, writes Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports. Rodgers: "I've just got to ask myself, 'What would have happened if we had offseason workouts? Could we have started any faster and scored more points tonight?'"
Packers general manager Ted Thompson, via Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "This was a lot different than a regular-season game. This was more like a playoff-tempo game. I think both teams geared up for this."
Gene Wojciechowski of ESPN.com: "In case you're wondering if the Packers are better this season than last, they are. And those concerns about a Super Bowl hangover? Forget it. The Packers must have taken a couple of aspirin and chowed down on some White Castle sliders after they partied in February."
Don Banks of SportsIllustrated.com: "You get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, we saw the NFL's real dream team here Thursday night? The Green Bay Packers certainly couldn't have scripted their 2011 opener -- the night they got to unfurl their Super Bowl title banner -- much better than the way this one played out. Especially on offense, which as everyone knows is the key to championships these days in the NFL."
The Packers' offense is "unrelenting," writes Alex Marvez of Fox Sports.com.
The Packers hadn't scored as many points in an opener since 1919, their first year as a franchise, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler: "Cutler has endured a litany of criticisms, and his leadership is chief among them, especially after the departure of offensive co-captain Olin Kreutz. But several high school, college and Bears teammates have his back and insist that -- while he's not overly vocal -- Cutler leads by example and speaks up when necessary."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: "The Bears might be a better team and have a worse record."
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "Leslie Frazier has spent the past six weeks selling players on the idea this is a new era for the Minnesota Vikings. The way players speak about Frazier and the direction of the franchise indicate they're buying in, too. But good vibes won't get Frazier's crew too far on Sunday at San Diego, where they'll have their first confrontation with the reality of what looks like a rebuilding season."