Green Bay Packers: 10 Big Takeaways through 10 Games

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 03: Za'Darius Smith #55 of the Green Bay Packers reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park on November 03, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
CARSON, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 03: Za'Darius Smith #55 of the Green Bay Packers reacts during the first half against the Los Angeles Chargers at Dignity Health Sports Park on November 03, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers are 10 games into their 2019 season and these are the 10 big takeaways from what we’ve seen so far.

After a number of necessary changes to this Green Bay Packers team over the offseason which included overhauling multiple positions on defense and of course, hiring a new head coach, they find themselves at 8-2 through their first 10 games. Truthfully, I can’t imagine that there are too many fans out there who would have predicted this outcome.

Currently, Green Bay is the two seed in the very competitive NFC playoff picture and they sit alone at the top of the NFC North with a 3-0 record against divisional opponents. The number one seed and home field advantage throughout the playoffs are well within in reach, but before we take a look ahead, let’s take a look back at the 10 biggest takeaways from the Packers’ first 10 games of the season.

Aaron Jones should be in the MVP discussion

Under Matt LaFleur’s outside zone running scheme and his overall utilization of the running back position, Aaron Jones has flourished. This season Jones has rushed for nearly 600 yards at 4.4 yards per carry with a league leading 11 touchdowns. Meanwhile through the air, he has 354 receiving yards and three more touchdowns. In Davante Adam’s absence, Jones was Aaron Rodgers top receiving target and he has been able to carry this offense to victory on multiple occasions this season.

Allen Lazard is WR2

Prior to the season beginning, we didn’t really know who would step up and be the second wide receiver on this Packers team. The obvious choices were either Geronimo Allison or Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but their production has been sporadic. Instead it has been Allen Lazard who since the Detroit game has caught 18 of 24 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown. Lazard leads the team in targets, receptions and yards over that span and he clearly has the trust of Rodgers.

Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have to be Super Man to win

Over the last few seasons this Green Bay Packers had been too reliant on Aaron Rodgers. If they were going to have any chance of winning, Rodgers had to play like Super Man, and even then, that wasn’t always good enough. But this season has been different. We’ve seen the offense rely more on the running game and we’ve seen the defense come up with some crucial stops and turnovers. Rodgers still has the ability to take a game over and lead this team to victory, but the beautiful thing is that it’s not required every week.

Brian Gutekunst for Executive of the Year

What an offseason Brian Gutekunst had. This team needed some retooling and that is exactly what he did. From the hiring of coach LaFleur, to his free agent signings which included Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner, along with contributions from his rookies, Rashan Gary, Darnell Savage, Elgton Jenkins, and most recently Jace Sternberger, they have all played an integral role in turning this Green Bay Packers team around. Just give Gutekunst the award now.

WRs not named Adams have underperformed

With more of a reliance on the running game, as well as the running backs and tight ends being used more in the passing game, the Packer offense has still been able to put up points, despite the underwhelming performance from their receivers.

While they did have a fantastic game against Oakland – who does have one of the worst pass defenses in football – they’ve otherwise left a lot to be desired. Since the Detroit game, Lazard, Allison, MVS, and Jake Kumerow have caught just 52 percent of their passes for 447 yards with one touchdown. A lot of that production has been from Lazard and the last three weeks in particular just haven’t been good.

Kenny Clark is just fine

Prior to the Carolina game there was some noise about Kenny Clark having a down season. And while his numbers haven’t been at the same level that we’ve become accustomed to seeing, Clark has still been playing at a high-level. In fact, Pro Football Focus had ranked Clark as the 24th best pass-rusher so far this season, but since he is oftentimes double-teamed, it can go unnoticed. Not to mention that he is coming off of a game where he had 10 quarterback pressures. So no worries, Kenny Clark is just fine.

Elgton Jenkins for Rookie of the Year

Due to the nature of being a guard in the NFL, you will oftentimes go unnoticed which is why Elgton Jenkins has no chance of winning Rookie of the Year. But he should. Since taking over at left guard, Jenkins has been phenomenal. In his 349 pass-blocking attempts, Jenkins is yet to give up a single sack or quarterback hit this season. As a matter of fact, of all the NFL guards that have played at least 500 snaps this season, Jenkins is the only one who hasn’t given up a sack or a quarterback hit.

Za’Darius Smith & Preston Smith have been worth every penny

From their leadership off the field, to their play on it, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been worth every penny of their contract. The duo has been a big reason for the culture change in Green Bay, not to mention on the field they’ve already combined for 95 quarterback pressures, 19 of which have been sacks. For some context, all of last season Clay Matthews and Nick Perry totaled 43 pressures and just six sacks.

Blake Martinez won’t be back in 2020

This conversation has been a point of contention among Green Bay Packers fans over the last year or two, but based on play and what Blake Martinez could reportedly get on the open market, he won’t be back in 2020. Martinez has been the quarterback of this defense and racks up incredible tackle numbers. However, those tackles will oftentimes occur downfield, rather than at the line of scrimmage. And as we know, he’s limited in coverage.

In a recent article by Ryan Wood of Packers News, an anonymous agent mentioned that Martinez could make anywhere from $8-$10 million as a free agent. My gut says that number will be too rich for Green Bay taking into account Martinez’ limitations, while also considering they still have to offer contract extensions to Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari.

The Defense will bend but it won’t break

Although it was a dominant start to the season which included Aaron Rodgers exclaiming “we got a defense,” the Green Bay defense has had their issues as of late. They’ve been gashed up the middle by opposing running backs and have given up a number of big plays in the passing game this season.

4 Packers who won't be back in 2020. dark. Next

But the scoreboard is what matters and this season they are giving up just 20.5 points per game, which is 12th best in football. Teams may move the ball on them, but this Packer defense comes away with a big sack, a timely turnover, or holds the opponent to three instead of seven. With Rodgers as your quarterback, the Green Bay Packers don’t need an amazing defense to win, they just need a competent one. And while it isn’t always pretty, for the most part, this defense gets the job done.