Green Bay Packers v. Rams: 5 Big Questions Revisited

Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Billy Turner (77) blocks Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (40) while quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws downfield during their game Sunday, November 28, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams 36-28.Packers29 25
Green Bay Packers offensive tackle Billy Turner (77) blocks Los Angeles Rams outside linebacker Von Miller (40) while quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) throws downfield during their game Sunday, November 28, 2021 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Green Bay Packers beat the Los Angeles Rams 36-28.Packers29 25 /

Now that the game has been played and we’ve had time to digest what took place, let’s take a look back at what the answers were to my 5 Big Questions facing the Green Bay Packers ahead of their matchup with the Rams.

Q: How well can the Green Bay Packers OL hold it together?

A: They did just fine

Down three of their preferred five starters along the offensive line, the Green Bay Packers were up against arguably the best defensive front in football. Whether it’s against the run or the pass, pick a statistical category, and there’s a good chance that the Rams are either at the top or very close.

So no, it wasn’t a pretty performance by Green Bay. The Packers would average only 2.9 yards per rush and the Rams would record 20 pressures, according to PFF ($$). In most instances that Aaron Rodgers had to hang on to the ball, the pressure — particularly up the middle — was right in his face.

With that said, I wouldn’t say that there were any egregious mistakes either. What happened should have been expected to some degree when a young offensive line goes up against a defensive group of this caliber.

With the help of Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers by leaning on the run game, utilizing motion, and relying on the quick passing game, they were able to provide the offensive line with enough help for them to be effective enough.

"“The offensive line was fantastic,” Rodgers said via “One phantom sack, the gift I gave my workout buddy Greg Gaines with the zero-yard sack on the scramble. I thought they did a nice job. I thought we mixed it up with the quick game, getting the ball out of my hand.”"

Q: Can the Packers pass rush get after Stafford?

A: They were effective enough

It wasn’t a dominant performance by the pass rush unit by any means, but they did finish with 19 pressures, which is their sixth-highest total in a game this season, along with two sacks—one of which was a fumble caused by Rashan Gary that led to a Green Bay Packers touchdown.

In an effort to stop this Los Angeles passing attack, Joe Barry rarely blitzed on Sunday and he also played quite often with lightboxes—meaning, it was up to the defensive front to win their matchups and get home. The lack of depth at the edge rusher position was also evident on Sunday, with Gary and Preston Smith’s presences really being missed when they were on the sidelines.

But considering that this Rams offensive line was ranked first by PFF in pass-blocking and second in ESPN’s pass block win rate, the Green Bay pass rush that was tasked with winning their one-on-one matchups did a nice job of getting after Matthew Stafford and pressuring some throws.

Q: Can the Packers offense get off to a fast start?

A: Yes! With some help

Following the loss to Minnesota, Aaron Rodgers discussed how one of the big differences between the 2020 Green Bay Packers offense and the 2021 version is that they just aren’t getting off to the same fast starts—and the lack of practice time certainly hasn’t helped.

But against the Rams, and with plenty of help from the Packers defense, we saw the offense put up points early on. The aforementioned forced fumble by Gary would lead to a touchdown for the offense on their second possession of the game. Then a fourth down stop by the Green Bay defense would result in a field goal for the Packers offense.

So that’s 10 points on two of their first three possessions. Green Bay would add 10 more points on the two proceeding possessions, leading to 20 points by halftime, and they scored on four of their first six possessions.

The offensive game plan drawn up by LaFleur was exactly what was needed given the state of the Packers offensive line and the stout defensive front that they were facing. Despite the lack of success on the ground, we still saw Green Bay stick with it. And as mentioned, they utilized the quick passing game and motion, along with some play-action as well.

Q: Will the Packers establish and stick to the run?

A: Yes

This was one of my biggest keys to the game. Running the ball was never going to be easy, but we’ve seen in past blowout losses how ugly things can get for this offense when they become one-dimensional.

Against this Rams front, allowing them to pin their ears back for a majority of the game would not have ended well. Also, running the ball allows the offensive line to be the aggressor.

The Packers would average only 2.9 yards per rush as a team, but AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones still finished with 30 combined carries. Now, of course, that number is a little inflated given that they had the lead late, but Green Bay still leaned on the run consistently throughout the game.

In the end, the Packers had roughly a 60/40 pass/run split, which is a good balance. With Rodgers as the quarterback, we are never going to see a consistent 50/50 mix but for this offense to be at their best, the run game needs to be a key part of the game plan.

Q: Can the Packers slow Cooper Kupp?

A: As much as a team can

After being cooked by Justin Jefferson a week earlier, the Green Bay Packers secondary had another tough task with Cooper Kupp on the schedule. Kupp entered Sunday’s game leading the NFL in receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and he was second in targets.

Under defensive coordinator Joe Barry, this defense is always going to play with lightboxes more often than not, but we really saw them lean into that approach against the Rams, just as they did against Arizona, Kansas City, and Seattle.

With lightboxes, the Packers had an extra defender or two in the secondary and were basically daring the Rams to run the ball. If LA found success on the ground, so be it, but Green Bay was not going to get beat through the air.

For the most part, this strategy worked, outside of two big passing plays where the corners were beat and there was no safety help over the top. Of Stafford’s 302 passing yards, 133 came on those two plays.

In regards to Kupp, he posted 96 receiving yards on seven receptions with a long of 22. Kupp is one of those players who is always going to put up numbers but the goal is to not let him take the game over—which the Packers secondary did.