With the Green Bay Packers on their bye week, I’ve decided to share my ramblings–or basically a brain dump of anything Packers-related that I have on my mind.
So if you’re up for it, let’s bounce from one Green Bay Packers’ topic to another.
– Moving forward, there is no reason that Kevin King should be starting over Rasul Douglas or playing more snaps than him. While King was playing some of his best football against Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Seattle, he’s still prone to those big mistakes, as we saw against Minnesota. Not that Douglas has been perfect, but he’s been much more steady and reliable.
– When — if? — Jaire Alexander returns, the Green Bay Packers will have some decision to make at cornerback. Does Douglas head to the bench with Alexander and Eric Stokes on the boundary? Does Alexander move to the slot with Douglas and Stokes outside? Or as Andy Herman of Packer Report brought up, does Douglas take Henry Black’s role as the third safety in passing situations, so you have all those players on the field together?
– Aaron Rodgers has begun to find his groove with the deep ball after a slow start to the season. Over the last two games, he has completed six of his 12 attempts of 20+ yards, and among quarterbacks during that span, he is second in yards, second in passer rating, and fourth in yards per attempt on those downfield shots.
– When Rashan Gary and/or Preston Smith weren’t on the field against Los Angeles, it was fairly obvious that the pass rush took a hit. While Tipa Galeai is loaded with potential, at this point, he and La’Darius Hamilton are not players that Green Bay will want to rely upon heavily. Jonathan Garvin’s return will help, but it’s not as if he’s made a lot of big plays. The edge depth will be worth monitoring, and hopefully, Za’Darius Smith will be back at some point.
– The run defense hasn’t been dominant by any means; they are allowing 4.1 yards per rush which ranks 21st and they rank 18th in ESPN’s run-stop win rate metric. But this unit has been much better than in recent years. Kenny Clark is getting some help as the Green Bay Packers are yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. Opponents also haven’t been able to control games on the ground, and the defensive front has been tasked with slowing the run without a lot of extra help as Joe Barry heavily utilizes lightboxes.
– With the run defense holding their own, it’s allowed Barry to really help out his secondary with extra defenders. As a result, the Packers allowed only 601 total passing yards against Kyler Murray, Patrick Mahomes, and Russell Wilson, and outside of two big plays — which has been a rarity this season — the secondary played well against Los Angeles.
– Green Bay has been very good at limiting the big passing play this season on defense. They also rank in the top-10 in passing yards per game allowed and yards per attempt, and two big reasons behind their success against the pass is the play of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage.
– I loved the formula that Matt LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers utilized to beat the Rams. They stuck with the run, went heavy with the quick passing game, and mixed in about seven downfield shots. A lot of that had to do with their patchwork OL facing a very good Rams front, but I hope we see more of that moving forward.
– If Nathaniel Hackett lands a head coaching gig in the offseason, who will be the Green Bay Packers’ next OC? Luke Getsy, Adam Stenavich, or an outside hire?
– I’ve said it before, I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again in the future, but this offense is at its best when going through the run game. Now, that doesn’t mean a 50/50 run/pass split–I’m not saying that at all. But the run game does need to be a factor and opposing defenses need to respect Green Bay’s ability to run the ball at any time. Then the passing game can truly flourish.
– No one is second-guessing AJ Dillon’s pass-catching abilities anymore, are they? Dillon’s 27 receptions are the fourth most on the team, and his 261 yards ranks 16th among running backs, while his average yards per catch of 9.7 is tied for ninth, and he also ranks eight in YAC per catch as well as seventh in yards per route run among backs, according to PFF ($$).
– It’s been a bit of a rough go as of late for Allen Lazard, who has had a few drops. Not that I’m terribly concerned or believe that the Packers are but do we see more opportunities for Equanimeous St. Brown in the passing game?
– Speaking of St. Brown, he has really embraced special teams this year. He had very few snaps during his career up to this point but has recognized that special teams play is his path to a roster spot. He’s been a very effective gunner.
– There have been several times where Rodgers and Marquez Valdes-Scantling haven’t been able to connect on the deep ball, but that’s largely been due to Rodgers missing him. While MVS has battled drops in his career, he has been very reliable this season.
– They aren’t dominant like they were a season ago, but the play of the Green Bay Packers offensive line this season with all of the injuries and movement has been remarkable. Sure, you have to account for them in the game plan more so, but for the most part, the run game is effective, and Rodgers has the time he needs.
– Assuming Randall Cobb is healthy, and even though he fumbled against the Rams, I do not want Amari Rodgers returning any more punts. His indecisiveness is becoming costly.
– Despite all of the outside noise this year, Brian Gutekunst has done a terrific job. Stokes, Royce Newman, and Josh Myers — when healthy — have been big-time contributors, the additions of De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas, Corey Bojorquez, Randall Cobb, and Whitney Mercilus have all made impacts, and Rodgers seems genuinely happy here in Green Bay. Not to mention that he and Russ Ball kept a majority of the team together under a salary-cap crunch.
– Speaking of Bojorquez, he is a legitimate game-changer as far as punters go. Not only his ability to maximize the distance out of each kick, but he’s able to pin returners along the sidelines, and has the touch to keep the ball out of the end zone.
– Matt LaFleur should be in the Coach of the Year discussion, and Kenny Clark is an All-Pro.
– This was a big year for Rashan Gary’s development, and he has taken that monster step forward and become that guy. Gary is tied for seventh in pressures and fourth in quarterback hits.
– Preston Smith has been having that bounce-back season that we all had hoped for. He is 19th among edge rushers in pressures, and he has also been quite good against the run.
– As good as the Green Bay Packers have been, they continue to struggle in the red zone on both sides of the ball. Although on the defensive side, they are one of the best at keeping their opponent out of the red zone, but on offense, this is one of the big reasons that they aren’t putting up as many points as they did a season ago.
– Hopefully, Rodgers is able to return to practice — or at least participate more than what he has — once the bye week is over. I do believe that the lack of practice time for him and his receivers is another reason that this offense isn’t firing on all cylinders.
– Slowly the trust that Rodgers has in Josiah Deguara appears to be building over these last two games or so. Without Robert Tonyan, Deguara finding success as a pass-catcher is going to be important.
– I don’t even know what to make of the field goal unit. Mason Crosby is certainly to blame, but the blocking hasn’t been good, Bojorquez has had some iffy holds, and there haven’t been the best snaps either.
– When we see players on the defensive side of the ball, including Sullivan, Dean Lowry, De’Vondre Campbell, and others, all having one of their better seasons, that’s a credit to Barry’s defensive scheme.
– Credit to the coaching staff as well as the role players and backups for being able to overcome all of the injuries that this team has sustained this season. The next-man-up mentality has rang true for this 2021 Packers team.
– At 9-3 with five games to go and three All-Pros potentially returning to the field, the Green Bay Packers are sitting in a terrific position.