It was one of those strange Packer Sundays, where fatherhood made my schedule a little goofy. At halftime, I had to take Jackson to Bloomington for a couple of basketball games. So after watching a spirited first half that featured Aaron Jones running wild, Brett Hundley doing his first Lambeau leap and the defense bending but not breaking, allowing just seven points and picking off Drew Brees twice.
Sound like I saved myself a lot of aggravation by missing most of the second half. I managed to catch a chunk of the fourth quarter on my phone from the bleachers. I set my DVR but haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. I wanna make sure I have an empty stomach when I do. As expected, the gulf between Brees and Hundley was too great, and ultimately the future Hall of Fame took charge against an overmatched Packers defense.
This was a game where the defense had to stand tall and they weren’t able to answer the bell. The two interceptions in the first half masked the issues they had covering the running backs in the screen game early and the running backs on the ground in the second half. The good news is the Packers won’t see another QB of Brees’ vintage the rest of the year (with apologies to Big Ben).
As far as the offense goes, Jones continues to be a revelation and has cemented his status as the Pack’s lead back. 17 carries for 131 yards: that’s almost eight yards a pop, highlighted by a 46 yard touchdown run on the game’s fist drive. Jones’ emergence gives the team hope that the team can lean on the running game, while Hundley gets more comfortable with more playing time.
Hundley was pretty wretched in the passing game; in part because it appeared McCarthy was hesitant to cut him loose. No matter how explosive Jones is, the Packers have to get more production out of their talented trio of receivers–five catches between them won’t cut it. I expect Hundley to look a lot more comfortable the next time he takes the field. He has 15 days to study what went wrong, where he can improve and what he needs to do to beat the Lions defense.
This was an opportunity to steal a win at home, riding the emotion of a QB’s first career start to take out a team that’s traditionally much better at home. But this Saints team has now notched wins in Green Bay and Carolina, along with a neutral field shutout over the 4-2 Dolphins. They appear right now to be the best team in the NFC South.
The Packers couldn’t hang with then for 60 minutes and now they have two weeks to figure things out and improve on both sides of the ball. Getting Morgan Burnett back and a healthy offensive line would help as well. We know the margin for error has gotten much thinner for the next six games. They have to play better and need to win two of their next three to keep pace in the North. With home games against the Lions and Ravens and a game in Chicago, two out of three seems possible. It’s probably mandatory.