Packers XLV

Defense Is Sack-Happy; Aaron Is Unhappy.

Posted October 1st, 2018 @ 01:10pm

It was precisely the 60 minutes of football we had hoped to see. An afternoon where we could put our feet up early, comfortable that the Packers had this game in control.

After watching the defense dominate young Josh Allen and the Bills, all seemed right in Packerland--until Aaron Rodgers unloaded in the post-game news conference. More on that in a bit. First, the defense.

We've seen glimpses of what Mike Pettine's defense can be: the second half of the Bears and Redskins games and the first half of the Vikings game. Against the Bills they put it all together, taking away the run game, confusing Allen all afternoon, sacking him seven times and taking the ball away three times. I mean, Kyler Fackrell had three sacks. Yes, Kyler Fackrell.

You wonder whether the defense took a major step forward or simply dominated a bad football team? Obviously, we'll learn more about them when they hit the road to face Matthew Stafford. But just a week earlier, the Vikings defense couldn't stop them and that was without LeSean McCoy on the field. So I'm not ready to anoint them as the second coming of the '85 Bears, but it was a very encouraging afternoon of football--precisely what they needed to show after three shaky weeks. They entered the game ranked 23rd in the league and now find themselves ranked sixth.

Plenty of positivity on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively? Not so much. On paper, it looks good. 423 yards of offense. A nice balance between rushing and passing, with 141 yards on the ground on 32 attempts. Aaron Jones led the way with 65 yards on the ground and a nice reception for 17 yards. But Mike McCarthy rotated his backs as promised, which can keep guys fresh, but can also prevent any of them from finding any kind of rhythm.

Rodgers was unusually grumpy after the game. "We were terrible on offense," he said after the game. "It was as bad as we've played on offense, with that many yards, in a long time." He bemoaned the lack of targets to Davante Adams (14) and Jimmy Graham (6), taking a veiled shot at McCarthy's play calling and personnel groupings.

He finished with more incompletions than Allen, completing barely over 50% of his passes. He missed some throws we're accustomed to seeing him make, but my main observation watching him play was that his knee injury is definitely improving. He moved around much better than he did the week before--it hardly seemed to limit him. Maybe McCarthy is still trying to rein him in a bit to protect him and maybe Rodgers feels he's ready to turn it loose.

But much will be made of the timing of Rodgers airing his frustrations. There have been cracks in his relationship with McCarthy for years--as there are for most coach-QB partnerships that last for more than ten years. But to air them moments after a decisive shutout victory will cause it to be a talking point for days.

Rodgers will need to be sharper as the weeks go by and McCarthy will need to figure out how to get on the same page with his Hall of Fame signal caller. It bears watching how they handle their business moving forward. You have to think McCarthy was incensed when he heard Rodgers' comments--preferring that he air his grievances privately. But that's never been how #12 rolls.

Overall, there were plenty of positives to take away from the Pack's first shutout in eight years, including strong performances from unlikely guys like Fackrell, Bell, Clinton-Dix and Jermaine Whitehead. Aaron Jones and Geronimo Allison are proving to be playmakers and Rodgers is getting healthier.

Next up, they face a desperate 1-3 Lions team that will play like their season is on the line. I figured we'd learn a lot about the Pack in how they handled the Bills. We'll learn even more as we see how they follow up with their first divisional road test of the season.

I'll be watching the Lions game at the Park Tavern in St. Louis Park on Sunday. It's our first Packer viewing party of the season. Plenty of food and drink specials and prize giveaways. Hope to see some of you there. We'll be in the 11th Frame bar, just past the bowling alley.

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Comments (7):

Well, I can't I made any hard predictions. The Packers didn't turn the ball over early and the refs mostly kept the yellow rags in their pockets. They were definitely off offensively. Plenty of drops and mistakes between wide outs and the QB. I can't believe the gave Kent Clark that fumble, but OK. Ha Ha didn't suck. Now we have to figure out how to cover Golden Tate. For once.

on October 1st, 2018 at 10:40am

Only a lousy, crappy team would lose at its home to the Buffalo Bills, right?

on October 2nd, 2018 at 04:48am

The Rodgers/McCarthy coordination issue that appears to be bubbling reminds me of when Peyton Manning was the recipient from a few potshots from Mike Vanderjagt, and Manning responded by flaming his "bigmouthed, drunken kicker" on ESPN...belittling Vanderjagt and asserting his leadership of the team. Certainly McMeatwhich will be having a conversation with #12 about this "outburst". They have to realize at some point that they need each other to dance. I dont expect this will remain an issue in the coming weeks, and with a more complete offensive performance that doesnt result in 5 plus field goals, Rodgers will be happier with the situation on the field.

on October 3rd, 2018 at 04:23pm

Larry, If the Pack's defense gives up 24 to the Lions than this ridiculous notion that they are top ten should fade away until they actually prove it over 8-10 games. I've read that on Packer wire. We need to play a couple more quality teams first. The Eric Reid dream is dead. Lets' grab a Colts cast off LB! That sounds...sucky. Well, I've got Aaron Jones on my fantasy squad, so there's that. 31 -17 Packers after an early score by the Lions.

on October 3rd, 2018 at 09:19pm

sure can tell when queens lose and when they win cant we on this site. that is biggest difference between Packers fans and vike fans. Now I see 12 and the coach are not seeing things the same page . I'm glad he said something. I have said it for 3 years on here, don't just beat your man with fly patterns and curl routes.. run some offense that gets guys open, with rub routes, and crossing patterns. did you see how Reid with KC, and the Rams get guys wide open, and get the guy they want guarding them? sorry Barr, 3 td's given up, trying to cover wr's, that is great offense. that is what Rodgers is asking for, something different. let's hope they get something worked out. Lions will be tough at home. we should be able to run on them, Packers 31- lions 24

on October 3rd, 2018 at 12:37pm

wow, top 10 defense LDF, wish I knew who said that.I would be happy with 15. if we hold the Lions to 24 on there field would be great in my mind. I know were looking at least weeks shutout. But, I remember the 4th qtr, of vikes game and Washington game too. how did d look in that game? on OLB from colts, not great I know, but needed somebody to play, the cb was cut already from colts so that tells you something. we just need to run the ball with Jones and Williams and don't turn it over, and we should win. all the wr's are hurting too, sure wish we had Jordy now. vikes lose 34-24, Go Packers

on October 4th, 2018 at 01:03pm

The Packers didn't "hit their marks" for the first quarter of the season. While 2-1-1 isn't terrible- and is historically consistent for this juncture during the McCarthy-Rodgers era - it's short of the expectation as it relates to the larger strategic issue of the team's return to the playoffs this season. Biggest whiff, undoubtedly, was letting Minny leave Lambeau with a tie. Followed by losing a road game to a beatable opponent. The Pack should be at least 3-1 now if not 4-0 and it's not going to be easy making up for those two misses elsewhere on the schedule. The offense has been "sticky," the defense and special teams "spotty." Even with Aaron Rodgers back the team ranks 19th in scoring, 17th in yards, 14th in passing yards and 16th in td passes and has just a 21 ppg average; at least 7ppg below expectation. Buffalo allowed the Packer defense to vault into the top ten but they gave up yardage and points at the same old alarming rate in the other 3 games. Most of the issues are fixable as long as injuries don't add up to alter the team. And those are starting again. It clearly wasn't the way the Packers needed to start the season. The most generous grade they should get is a "C" but it was more "C-minus." And Aaron Rodgers isn't telling any one to R E L A X or "run the table." The next two weeks could be the tell.

on October 4th, 2018 at 07:02pm

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