Packers Have A 14 Point Win Over the WFT on SundayPosted:Oct 25th, 2021 2:10 pm
There was a lot to like about Sunday's 14 point win over the WFT. The red zone issues on both sides of the ball, a talking point all week long, disappeared for one week. The defense held them to just three points on four trips (thank you Taylor Heinicke) and the offense looked a bit like last year, with Davante Adams and Robert Tonyan hitting pay dirt from inside the 20.
The defense, missing four key starters, got a career best effort from rising star Rashan Gary--his strip sack to open the third quarter was the play of the game and he was a problem all afternoon. That unit got strong efforts from Chandon Sullivan, Rasul Douglas, Kingsley Keke and the unit's MVP so far, De'Vondre Campbell. The pass rush really picked up as the game went along; Heinicke was pressured on 40% of his drop backs and the WFT converted on just 4 of 11 third downs and 1 of 4 fourth downs.
But there were plenty of things that did not go great: the defense gave up 195 yards on the ground--most concerning was allowing 95 of them to come from the quarterback. That's been a consistent problem all season and will need to be shored up with Kyler Murray looming on Thursday night. Washington's top shelf defensive line, comprised of all former #1 picks, dominated the Pack's makeshift offensive line, keeping Rodgers uncomfortable and completely neutralizing the running game. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combined for 25 yards on just nine carries. That's not sustainable...neither is Dillon putting the ball on the ground twice.
Long term, I have zero concerns about the offense. David Bakhtiari and MVS are on the verge of returning, if not this week then the following week in Kansas City. That should open up the playbook a bit and allow LaFleur to be creative like he wants to be. Seeing Tonyan and Allen Lazard much more involved in the passing game is a good start. And can we stop for a moment and talk about the sideline catch by Davante Adams? Simply spectacular.
I don't have zero concerns about the defense, but I think they're getting better each week. True, they haven't faced a gauntlet of good QBs (Joe Burrow is really the only top 15 guy they've gone up against), but that changes now. The next five: Murray, Mahomes, Wilson (maybe), Cousins and Stafford. It would be nice to get a few of their impact guys back during this stretch, like both starting corners and Preston Smith. Adding veteran depth in Douglas, Whitney Mercilus and Jaylon Smith provides some nice health insurance. As a unit, they're tackling well, hitting hard and showing some bite. That's a good start.
Special teams continues to be a mixed bag. There was more good than bad in this game. Yes, getting a field goal blocked is never a good thing, but they did block one of their own, the kickoff coverage unit kept dangerous return man DeAndre Carter in check and punter Corey Bojorquez was a difference maker--all three of his punts tilted the field.
Six wins in a row after the week one debacle is all we could have asked for; now we'll get a better idea of where this team stands as the schedule gets a lot tougher. Hopefully, re-enforcements are on the way with the return of a couple of all pros and a few other key cogs on both sides of the ball.