The NFL can humble you very quickly. The Packers players learned that on Sunday and we fans were reminded of it. All the luster and shine of the Pack’s 7-1 start came crashing down in a performance that stunk in every phase.
I wasn’t surprised to see the defense struggle out of the gate, figuring the Chargers would respond to their new play caller. The fact that the defense was holding them to field goals provided hope that the Pack would take care of business once the offense figured things out.
But that never happened. The most perplexing aspect of this performance was the flat, uninspired play on the offensive side of the ball. From pre-snap penalties to a complete inability to block Joey Bosa. From turning Aaron Jones invisible to not adjusting to what the Chargers were throwing at them, the Pack and their head coach had no answers.
After the game, we heard all the usual cliches. ‘Maybe we needed a game like this. Maybe we were listening to all the praise. They were better prepared than we were.’ None of that holds water. Aaron Rodgers’ comment after the game raises eyebrows: “We’ve got to be honest about our routine and decisions we made in the last 48 hours and make sure that our heads are in the right place the next time we come on a big road trip.” Huh? What the heck does that mean? What decisions in the last 48 hours? Maybe he’s referring to the Za’Darius Smith traffic stop. I don’t know, but that sounds alarming to me.
The Pack had a grand total of 65 yards of offense through three quarters. How is that even possible with the talent on that side of the ball? Bulaga has had a fantastic season dealing with some of the best pass rushers in the league. But he had no answer for Bosa, and LaFleur did not provide any help for him all afternoon. The triumphant return of Davante Adams was supposed to help this offense reach another level. Not on this day.
The obvious question to ask is where does this team go from here? How do they respond? They’re still in first place in the NFC North and get to return to Lambeau next week before the bye. Next week’s opponent, the 5-3 Panthers, are led by a backup quarterback, but it’s Christian McCaffrey that makes them go and he will be a problem.
So the defense will have to figure out how to corral him and the offense will need to pick up the pieces. How LaFleur, his staff and the players bounce back on Sunday will give us a very good idea what this team is made of. Was this game just one of those clunkers that teams go through every now and then? Or was the 7-1 start a mirage? As Trent Tucker likes to say, ‘only time will tell, Davey.’