The fourth week of the NFL has passed, and already Packers fans have had years taken off their lifespans for what feels like the third time this season. In a nailbiter, The Green Bay Packers edged out the New England Patriots 27-24, which maybe sounded impressive a decade ago, but not now. This was an ugly win for the offense but an impressive showing once again for the stout defensive unit. This Packers team ceases to amaze me and other fans with how they can simultaneously be in a close game against Tom Brady’s Buccaneers, and then proceed to be just as stress inducing in a game against Bailey Zappe’s Patriots. Bailey who? Oh, the 137th overall pick in the 2021 draft of course, surprised you haven’t heard of him. There were several factors in this game that led to it coming down to the wire, and many of which have become patterns that all Packers fans hope come to a quick stop.
The Shutdown Defense
Much like last week’s game against the Buccaneers, the Packers displayed an outstanding defensive performance against Mac Jones’ backup Brian Hoyer, only allowing a field goal drive to him the entire game. Of course, Hoyer was not in the whole game, as a Rashan Gary sack made for a quick out for Hoyer part way into the first quarter, leaving rookie quarterback Bailey Zappe to take his place. As strong as this defensive unit is talent wise, as I have discussed in one of my previous articles, the soft zone calls by Joe Barry ultimately were the downfall of the entire unit, allowing big run plays to open up and checkdowns to move the sticks. Now by no means is the backfield tandem of Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson anything to sneeze at, in fact I believe they are a more underrated RB room in the league. That being said, this defense should have been able to hold them well under the 167 yards and touchdown that they achieved. Looking forward I hope to see more blitz packages for young QBs with problems handling pressure, oh is that the Giants on our schedule?
The Offensive Shutdown
Here we go again, another lackluster half of football for a, although still growing, relatively stagnant offense this season. It is becoming a frustrating pattern that in all honesty has been apparent since the start of the 2021 season, and that is this offense cannot play a full 60 minutes. Yes, even when we had Davante Adams we had trouble with staying on the gas for a full football game. Credit where credit is due, as a unit the offense assuredly turned things around in the second half, however it should not take long for that to click. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ first half stats were 4/11, 0TDs, 1Int, with that interception being an ugly one taken to the house for six. I know he has “no receivers”, I know he is aging, and I certainly know about the conservative play calling. I also know Rodgers is an MVP calibur quarterback that had a performance akin to Ryan Tannehill this week who had 137 yards, 2TDs, and 0Ints, all with rookie TE Chigoziem Okonkwo as his top pass catcher for the day. Rodgers missed multiple deep shots to open receivers over the course of the game and holds a large part of the blame for this stagnant offense.All negatives aside, Rodgers did seem to light up in the second half, going back to his usual MVP self and finishing out the game.Just as much, if Romeo Doubs holds that football for a second longer in the endzone, this game is a wash and there would be no discussion. Nonetheless, I can’t help but put a large chunk of these offensive struggles onto an underperforming Rodgers.
With the defense looking consistently effortful at the least, and outstanding at the top end, it is safe to say this team will continue to win in spite of all the conservative coaching on both ends of the ball. I also believe Rodgers will find his groove with the wide receiver room he has been given and the offense will only improve from its shaky foundation. Only time will tell if anything I have said has merit to it, but onto the next week of Packers football, where Green Bay takes on the NY Giants in London.