Takeaways from Week 5: Packers v. Raiders

Oct 9, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) is pursued by Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane (41) and safety Marcus Epps (1) on a 77-yard reception in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 9, 2023; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (9) is pursued by Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Robert Spillane (41) and safety Marcus Epps (1) on a 77-yard reception in the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

With the loss on Monday Night Football, the Green Bay Packers head into their bye week in week six at 2-3. While there have been many frustrating moments, there have also been some positives, so I went back and watched the film to take away five things both good and bad.

Run Game Picked Up (Better Than Usual)

While there weren’t many positives out of last night, the run game even without Aaron Jones, picked up finally. AJ Dillon led the room with twenty carries for seventy-six yards, and a touchdown. The offensive line was seemingly getting a push for most of the carries, and hopefully, that can continue against the Denver Broncos after the bye week.

Elgton Jenkins being back made a big difference as well as there were clear lanes to run through it seemed more so than the previous two games. While it was far from perfect, it was nice to see the running game getting some more touches, and with a healthy Aaron Jones hopefully back after the bye week, those touches need to continue.

Christian Watson Looked Explosive

While he may not have caught all seven of his targets due to various circumstances, Christian Watson led the team in receiving and brought back the big play ability with his speed, and looked back to normal. He would end his night with three receptions for 91 yards, including a 77 yard reception that would’ve been a touchdown if not for Radiers cornerback, Marcus Peters committing a personal foul by horsecollar tackling to save the touchdown.

Regardless, Watson played a total of 86 percent of the snaps on offense and is looking back to normal which will be huge after Aaron Jones hopefully returns before the game in Denver.

The Defense Kept Them In It

While yes, everyone else, including myself saw Preston Smith lined up on Davante Adams, the defense was playing well for the most part. They were able to limit Adams to 44 yards, as well as control the run game. Without an interception inside their 20 yard line, the defense truly only gave up 14 points, which should be more than enough to win a game for the offense. The defensive line was very effective last night, getting home for multiple sacks, especially the combo of Rashan Gary, Devote Wyatt, Kenny Clark, and Smith. JJ Enagebare and Colby Wooden made their presence known as well.

As for the secondary, Jaire Alexander and company were able to limit Adams, not as much as Jakobi Meyers, but Rasul Douglas was the highest-graded Packer Monday Night as well. Safety Rudy Ford also recorded his second interception in two games after a nice read and jump on a throw from Jimmy Garappolo. This defense was able to step up the most they could, but sometimes, the offense needed to kick it into gear.

The Schemes Need Adjusting (Offense)

Matt LaFleur and the offense have been seemingly quiet in the first half since the Bears game. While in every game, they have bounced back and are among the best in the league points-wise in the second half, the first half is the complete opposite. The Green Bay Packers rank 30th out of 32 teams in points scored in the first half, coming in at 5.2 points per game on average, but the halftime adjustments are seeming to boost them as they come in ranked 1st at 17.9 points per second half on average.

Now the question is, how can they jump-start that offense in the first half, and take control instead of chasing and catching up to teams in the second half? One thing I noticed in this past week’s game is that the Raiders heavily respected the speed of the Packers, so that can be used to their advantage in multiple ways. There were multiple routes where Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed, or Dontayvion Wicks were running over 10 yards, and it completely cleared out the middle. That all sounds great, but very rarely, did any routes go over the middle for the Packers under the deep routes.

An example of another team doing this would be the Raiders. One specific play can be found around the 36 second mark before halftime, where the scheme shows Adams, Meyers, and Hunter Renfrow going deep, but following behind them over the middle is a running back, and tight end, which causes the linebackers to respect the routes and crash, leaving Meyers wide open across the middle where Garappolo hits him.

While I am not saying the only thing that needs adjusting with the offense is the lack of over-the-middle routes, the simplicity of forcing them to respect a person being in the area would help clear things out. Overall, LaFleur needs to implement “drive starter” plays that were designed to get Love in rhythm such as in the preseason, and that includes keeping the run game touches up as well.

The Schemes Need Adjusting (Defense)

The defense, which kept the Packers in the game this past week, as well as in a few other games where the offense started slow, also needs a few adjustments as well. One of them rings true from last year, and it was something that stuck out in the film again.

Playing five to ten yards off on third and short in zone coverage, especially inside the red zone is just a give-me first down for experienced elite receivers. I understand you don’t want to get burned deep, but when inside the red zone, such as the play with35 seconds left in the third quarter, forcing a field goal would’ve only tied the game. By playing far off, Adams was able to run to the sticks, stop, and take the easy first-down reception, allowing a fresh set of downs inside the ten. While it wasn’t on the defense at this point with the offense having three turnovers, that specific scheme has been a trend for multiple games now, and has to be cleaned up. At the end of the day, you shouldn’t just be giving out free first downs, and never again should Preston Smith be on the opponent’s top wide receiver

Packers Special Teams Stood Out

Rookie kicker, Anders Carlson has quietly been having a great season thus far in which, he hasn’t missed a kick despite the rough patch during practices in preseason. Besides Carlson, the special teams this past week forced two missed field goals, even blocking one. If the consistency on special teams can continue, that will be a big boost to a young team that looks for those big plays to gain momentum.

Overall, the Packers are heading into their bye week at 2-3, but the flashes have been seen. It will remain a question to see how the scheme changes, and if the offense can get it going right away versus after two quarters. While no team is perfect, the good ones minimize the mistakes as much as possible and can adapt to issues being caused within their schemes.

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