Green Bay Packers v. Washington: 3 Big Takeaways

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 08: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after getting a first down in the second half against the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field on December 08, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 08: Aaron Jones #33 of the Green Bay Packers reacts after getting a first down in the second half against the Washington Redskins at Lambeau Field on December 08, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Green Bay Packers are now 10-3 on the season after a win against Washington. Here are the three big takeaways from Sunday’s game.

The Green Bay Packers certainly won’t be getting any style points after Sunday’s game against the Washington Redskins, in fact, many fans are discouraged by their performance. But fortunately for us, the only thing that matters is the wins and losses columns, and right now the Packers have 10 wins and just 3 losses. This keeps them at the top of the NFC North and they also moved past New Orleans for the two seed.

Now, don’t get me wrong this team has work to do if they hope to compete with the aforementioned Saints and the San Francisco 49ers but 10-3 is 10-3. As always there are plenty of positives and negatives to take away from the game, but if we boil it down to just a few areas, these are the three big takeaways from their matchup with Washington.

It looks like the Packers finally have a punt return man

We are all well aware that the defense gives up chunk plays and the offense can sputter but those performances were nothing compared to what we saw from the Green Bay Packers’ punt return team this season. Prior to Sunday’s game, the combination of Trevor Davis, Darrius Shepherd, and Tremon Smith had seven returns for a grand total of -8 punt return yards. And the longest return was held by Davis of just one yard.

Instead of being a weapon, it has been a liability and in an effort to change that, this past week Green Bay would part ways with Smith and sign Tyler Ervin. He was most recently on the Jacksonville Jaguars and in his four-year career, he had averaged nearly 8.5 yards per return on 61 attempts. Then on Sunday, Ervin had a fantastic debut with Green Bay and has already endeared himself to the Packer faithful.

On four punt return attempts, Ervin would total 51 yards for an average return of nearly 13 yards with a long of 18. As a result two positives came out of his performance against Washington. One, the Green Bay Packers are no longer on track to be the worst punt return team in NFL history, and two, it looks like they found their guy.

Why isn’t the entire offense ran through Aaron Jones?

It’s been obvious all season long, the passing game has struggled and yet there is almost an unwillingness to consistently make Aaron Jones the focal point of this offense. After being Aaron Rodgers’ top receiving target in Davante Adams’ absence, since the Kansas City Chiefs game up until last week in New York, Jones just 2.5 targets per game. And on the ground during that same span, he barely has over 11 carries per game.

Now credit needs to be given to both San Francisco and New York for having been able to slow this Green Bay Packers’ running game. However, Jones is your playmaker and the offense has been at their best this season when he is getting his touches, so Matt LaFleur needs to find ways to put the ball in his hands, instead of going away from him.

Yesterday early on we saw Green Bay focused on getting Jones the ball and he shredded this struggling Washington run defense. On 16 carries he would rush for 134 yards – or 8.4 yards per attempt – with a touchdown. Meanwhile through the air, he caught six of seven passes for another 58 yards.

But even so, there were still points in the game that we saw Green Bay revert back to Rodgers in the shotgun, scrambling around and either taking a sack or throwing the ball away. This has to change and Aaron Jones needs more touches.

Passing game issues

Just as we’ve seen before, the Green Bay Packers would jump out to a quick lead, scoring touchdowns on two of their first three possessions only to sputter once the open script had run dry. Fortunately, the offense had Aaron Jones and the run game to rely on but the passing game continues to underwhelm.

As I alluded to above, the offense at times looked very McCarthy-like with Rodgers dropping back out of shotgun, with him either passing up the easy throw or no receivers were getting open, followed by a scramble drill and often times a throw away. The result was Rodgers going 18/28 for 195 yards and the receivers totaling just seven receptions for 71 yards. And all against a pass defense that ranks in the bottom third of the league by DVOA standards.

Like in most cases there are a number of factors that are contributing to these poor results. One is that Rodgers at times has reverted back to what we saw from him in 2018 in scrambling and holding on to the ball. But also, his receivers aren’t getting open with any regularity either, and overall there is no rhythm to this offense, especially in the passing game. Which I do think could be helped by LaFleur using more no-huddle and running plays at a quicker pace.

Next. Packers v. Washington: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly. dark

After the game, a number of players, including Bryan Bulaga, said that with a tougher schedule now beginning next week, they have to start figuring this out or coming away with a win is going to be very difficult. And I couldn’t have said it better myself.