The first half in the week 5 loss against the Giants by the Green Bay Packers was the most efficient football on both sides of the field that the Packers have played thus far. Yes both sides had their minuscule faults and it wasn’t perfect, but it was consistently dominant in ways that we had not seen before. While the second half of the game was perhaps the biggest disappointment of the season while also raising huge question marks about the team.
On the offensive side of the ball, within the first drive, we could already get a taste of what the game plan would be for the game or at least the first half. Strong short runs followed by many drags, flats, and out routes, coupled with outside wide receiver bubbles. Throw in a few long play actions; that was essential to all of the offense in the first half. Allen Lazard and “Big Dog” Marcedes Lewis truly set the tone in skill position blocking, which is passed to our rookies, shown through their fierce blocking on these bubble plays. Especially with big bodies in Lazard, Lewis, and Watson, standard corners are no match. This game plan of short runs and schemed throws worked perfectly, and the main highlight was that the Packers stuck to this game plan throughout the whole 30 minutes. Yes, there were a couple of miscues with typical rookie mistakes by Doubs and Watson, but the offense looked more in sync with each other. Another change in the offense was the speed at which they arrived at the line of scrimmage. In recent weeks, Aaron Rodgers calling timeouts at random moments throughout the half has been an issue. Getting to the line of scrimmage quicker allows him to read the defense and make the proper audibles with more time and without having to waste a timeout. It also keeps certain linebacker personnel on the field in which Rodgers can make audibles to the offense’s advantage.
All of this signaled a strong second half and continued domination. Of course, this didn’t happen, and the game blew up before our eyes. The Giants came out, scored a field goal, and then forced the Packers to punt; while that wasn’t great, the Packers still drove down the field, and there wasn’t a reason to panic. Then the Giants went 92 yards over 15 plays and eight minutes before scoring a touchdown. With a very fatigued Green Bay Packers defense, the offense made matters worse when Rodgers ran three pass plays, all deep throws that ended up being incomplete. The Packers gained 0 yards and only spent 16 seconds from the clock before our tired defense had to get back on the field. The offense had one major drive after this, and it was potentially the game-tying drive. They had enough time but completely abandoned the run and force-fed receivers the ball leading to a disjointed offense. On the final two plays of the offense, the Packers had two yards to gain a first down, and despite having big-bodied AJ Dillon on the field, they opted to run two shotgun passes, leading to two batted passes, and lost their chance to tie the game. After having such a solid running presence in the first half, completely abandoning the style is mind-boggling. It is worth noting that the Packers had two drives where they opted to start with three passing plays, and in those two drives, they had combined yardages of -1 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers played much better than they usually do, especially against the run. Excluding a 40-yard wildcat run by Barkley, the Giants were only able to rush for 24 yards, which means that they could contain Barkley for most of the half. This was proven by the Packers regularly stacking the box, stuffing these runs, and generating a vast amount of pressure. As the Giant’s main style of play revolves around these runs, they weren’t able to provide much for their team. This was a massive step in the right direction as it proved that the Packers are capable of being a run-stopping team when schemed.
As the second half rolled around, the Giants were able to adapt in a way that the Packers never seemed to be able to do so. Joe Barry’s soft zone defense is a style that will never work. Especially when the Giants began running bootleg rollouts or sharp slants toward the middle of the field. To Barry’s credit, his defense style doesn’t allow long deep passes; however, that is the only thing it does. Any offense can dink and dunk their way to a touchdown, and teams have done this before. Additionally, the Packer’s third down defense wasn’t as strong as after having no teams convert a 3rd and 8+ yards. The Giants did so twice in a row. They also converted just over 50% of their total first-down attempts. While this fault in dominance can be attributed to having to be on the field for a majority of the half due to the lack of a strong offense, there is no doubt that there are massive holes in Barry’s game. The Green Bay Packers stand no chance of performing well against good teams that can see weaknesses and adjust accordingly.
While that second half was intensely frustrating, and a half that was played poorly that one could argue the Packers deserved to lose the game, we didn’t leave the game without any potential upsides. Matt Lafleur and Joe Barry proved that they could coach and scheme good concepts to leverage the game. The Packer’s offense still needs time to gel and work together like a fluid machine and has already proved they can do so. The Packer’s defense showed against the Giants that they may be able to understand the opposing offense’s game and how to stop it, but they are still far from being a genuinely consistent and powerful defense. If the Packers can put together the pieces and string along anything close to sixty minutes of consistent football, their chances against any league team can be high.