Defense Is Sack-Happy; Aaron Is Unhappy.

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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