The Green Bay Packers started the season off on the wrong foot, suffering an absolute thrashing from Jameis Winston and the Saints. They bounced back towards the end of last week’s game but still didn’t look quite right. Here’s why everyone rooting for the Packers should R-E-L-A-X.
Don’t pack up just yet
My game of the week week one besides the Bucs vs Cowboys was Packers vs Saints. Both teams seemed like they would be competitive and I thought it would be a high scoring nail biter. The Packers then proceeded to get run through all game losing 38-3. What happened?
The whole game everyone looked off. The defense couldn’t stop a parked car and the offense looked miserable. After the game, Aaron Rodgers said it started with him and he felt off all game. The rhythm and timing felt completely wrong and that’s what he said he focused on during practice last week and it paid off as he came back and had another MVP level performance like we all expected.
Let’s start with what changed from Saints to Lions for the offense. First and foremost Aaron Rodgers looked crisp and clean after looking scared and confused in week one. That new found rhythm from Rodgers forced the Lions to play a 2 high safety defense almost all game, daring Rodgers to throw it deep.
That defensive package allowed for Aaron Jones to take over the game. Packers coach Matt Lafleur made some great play calling and baited the defense in using lots of runs and shorter passes until they bit enough for Rodgers to connect deep with Davante down the sideline. That play sparked seemed to put some excitement into not only the offense but the defense as well and really broke the game open.
Not long after the long connection, Rodgers zipped a laser right between the numbers for the Touchdown to Robert Tonyan in what was definitively the throw of the night. Rodgers finally looked like Rodgers again and the whole team could feel it. Many people speculated after week one that Rodgers didn’t care but he silenced those people with last week’s performance and hopes to continue to build on it against the 49ers this week and throughout the season.
Green Bay started off the season giving up 38 points to the Saints and the first half of the Lions game looked to be more of the same giving up 17 points. This was largely due to the most controversial re-signing of the Packers offseason: Kevin King.
King was loudly booed during introductions Monday night AT HOME. The last time a player was booed that loudly was Brett Favre… in a Vikings uniform. He immediately showed why though, giving up a huge 46 yard completion on third and one, looking lost through the whole route against Quintez Cephus. King also completely misread a play in which he jumped to cover Eric Stokes’ assignment which gave Goff a wide open touchdown.
Stokes broke up 2 passes and played beyond expectation for a rookie in this game and many fans think he should replace King on the field immediately. This could be the end of King’s days in Green Bay.
An even more concerning area to look at though is with first year Packers Defensive Coordinator, Joe Barry. Barry’s scheme was not working against the Lions in the first half and he refused to commit to either putting pressure on Goff or guarding deep. He tried to do everything which resulted in nothing working.
Head Coach Matt LaFleur said he told Barry at half to commit to one or the other and Barry chose to commit to pressuring Goff. The lions then proceeded to not score a single point in the second half.
Of course this is good news that the Head Coach can analyze and help fix problems on both sides of the ball but he shouldn’t have to. Barry didn’t do his job so LaFleur had to baby him through it. That is a very bad sign of things to come.
With all this being said though it has only been 2 weeks and that’s all the issues the Packers really have. Once Za’darius Smith comes back from injury the front 7 will be significantly stronger and should tighten up the run game and I will give Barry a few more weeks to prove that the first half against the Lions was a fluke.
If the defense can play like they did in the second half of the Lions game for the rest of the season, they should really be able to bring this team together and secure the Packers as a playoff team once again. No, this season hasn’t started out as well as any Packers fan wanted but it’s early and it doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish.