For all you holdouts, can we finally put the Taysom Hill angst in the rearview mirror? Can we all finally move on? After sparring with caller Craig from Brown Deer on “Packer Preview” on Sunday, I tried to implore everybody that it’s just not worth regretting the loss of a backup QB three years ago.
And then Hill made my point for me. When Za’Darius Smith caused his game-changing fumble early in the fourth quarter, which resulted in a field goal that gave the Pack the lead for good, all Taysom Hill ghosts were exorcized forever.
The Pack is 3-0 and could we have possibly dreamed up a better start to the season? Granted, winning on the road in Minnesota and New Orleans isn’t as daunting as usual for all the obvious reasons, but the way the Packers offense is clicking to start this season is historic.
We all wondered how the offense would evolve in year two of Matt LaFleur’s system. Aaron Rodgers said he felt much more comfortable heading into this season. Yeah, we’ve noticed. Through three games the Pack has yet to come up with a three and out (except in garbage time of the Lions game), they’ve yet to turn the ball over and the LaFleur-Rodgers play-calling team has dialed up three great game scripts.
In game one, it was Davante Adams. In game two it was Aaron Jones. This time, it was Allen Lazard and, who woulda thunk it, the tight ends that torched the Saints defense. Let’s start with Lazard: with the Saints keying on not letting Marquez Valdez-Scantling beat them over the top, Rodgers found Lazard all night, with two explosive plays of 72 and 48 yards leading the way. As expected, Lazard is developing into a terrific number two receiver who can step into the #1 role when needed, without any drop-off in the offense.
The Pack is now 5-0 without Adams over the past two seasons, averaging more than 30 points per game while he’s sidelined. All those critics who dismissed Green Bay’s passing offense as Adams and the seven dwarfs are awfully quiet right now.
The eye-opening development is the production from the tight ends, who were mostly silent over the first two games. After seeing Darren Waller torch New Orleans the previous Monday night, that seemed like a way to attack the Saints’ D, but did the Pack have the weapons to do it? Well, the three-headed tight end monster combined for nine catches on ten targets, for over 100 yards and two touchdowns–giving future opponents something else to think about when they scheme to play the Pack.
Defensively, it was a mixed bag. I figured we’d get a focused Saints offense, anxious to put their Monday night loss behind them and dispel the whispers that Drew Brees was washed. He isn’t, not quite, because he’s still able to make quick decisions and remains accurate. But he no longer takes deep shots and the Pack’s two outside corners were more than up to the challenge. Jaire Alexander pitched a shutout and is rapidly entering the conversation as a top five corner.
After giving up over 100 yards rushing in the first half, the Pack righted the ship, as the Saints finished with 122 on the ground. That said, Pettine’s group had no answers for Alvin Kamara in the passing game. His 52 yard touchdown catch and run will be played and replayed this week in the defensive team meetings as the players will use their calculators and compute how many missed tackles they amassed. Yes, Kamara is special, but allowing him to catch 13 balls for 139 yards is shameful–even if it did carry my fantasy team to victory.
A bright spot was the play of Kingsley Keke, tasked with filling in for the injured Kenny Clark. He wasn’t perfect, but he recorded the team’s only two sacks and showed that he might become a valuable member of the D line, which is much needed. The loss of Christian Kirksey exposed the other thin spot on the roster. The oft-injured linebacker left with a shoulder and the Pack was forced to bring in second year guy Ty Summers. He ended up leading the team with nine tackles, but he missed a bunch too. Hopefully Kirksey escaped serious injury–we’ll have to wait and see.
All in all, it’s hard to find fault with the Pack’s 3-0 start. Rodgers looks rejuvenated and on a mission. The offense has been unstoppable and now gets Atlanta, and one of the league’s worst defenses coming into Lambeau Field on Monday night. At this rate the only thing that might slow them down is the Week 5 bye.