It’s the third installment of our First Four Thoughts series. The Green Bay Packers will provide us with weekly content that we’ll deliver to you as our first four thoughts of the week every Monday.
The Packers kicked off the 2021 season and it…wasn’t pretty. There’s plenty to dissect out of this one, and Jimmy Christensen and I will do our best to do that.
1. Uhh…what the heck happened?
Jimmy – The only thing that I can think of is Aaron Rodgers and Jameis Winston both visited the same restaurant, opened a fortune cookie, and switched bodies. Rodgers was uncharacteristically bad today, while Winston threw five touchdowns without throwing a single interception (thank you referees). Before saying what the Packers did wrong, credit does need to be given to Winston for showing people that he has grown as a player during his time with the Saints. He made the right decisions, did not play hero ball, and looks to have revitalized his career.
The quarterback play aside, the Saints moved down the field with ease. The defense looked tired, unenergetic, and on different pages. Winston was under little pressure, and consistently found players in the soft spots of the Packers defense. It was a poor showing for Joe Barry’s first performance as the defensive coordinator.
Dan – I really want to just let Jimmy’s answer stand alone because that not only sounds like the most reasonable answer, but also the plot of a great new Disney Channel Original Movie.
Kidding aside, I think this was another typical blowout where the team lets one or two really bad drives throw them out of sync and neve recover. Both sides of the ball looked completely out of sorts and unable to execute any semblance of a game plan. It’s become a very troubling quirk of this team and I’m not sure how it gets fixed.
In terms of Xs and Os, though, the Saints dominated the trenches. There was no semblance of a pass rush and Aaron Rodgers never looked comfortable, under pressure all game.
2. What surprised you the most?
Jimmy – I cannot believe how poor our passing attack was. The Saints secondary was talked about as being the weak spot of the team, but they stepped up big today. They did not give the players any room to work, and the pass rush made sure they didn’t have to cover for too long. As the weeks go on, it still is an area of concern for the Saints, but man did they make the Packers wide receivers look bad today.
Dan – How completely out of sorts the offense looked. The Saints defense came to play; give them the credit for what they were able to do. However, that offense made things very easy for them. The defense looked confused, but at least they have the excuse of getting used to a new system. This is the best offense from 2020 and they sure didn’t look like it.
Guys didn’t seem to know what they needed to be doing at times. Receivers weren’t able to get open and ran wrong routes. Rodgers looked as if he woke up late and was still half asleep. And as is usually the case in these blowouts, Matt LaFleur abandoned the run much too early and made the offense one dimensional.
3. Can you pull any positive out of the game?
Jimmy – I can only think of two positives from this game. The first is that the Packers have definitely improved at the punter position. Bojorquez had a consistent showing for the team, which is what the fans have been begging for. Hopefully, we will not be much of him this season, but he showed that he will not be the reason the Packers lose a game.
The other positive from the game is that it can only go up from here. The Packers offense looked off and the defense couldn’t stop anything. The team could not perform any worse than they did against the Saints. The team has never lost two games in a row before, so I expect them to bounce back strong, and use this as a wake up call.
Dan – Jordan Love got to throw a regular season pass? Seriously, there was nothing good to come out of this game. No one stood out and almost every starter had one bad moment. I’d love to say this is a wake up call, but this is essentially the same core that’s been around the last couple years who’ve all had these similar “wake up calls”. At a certain point, it becomes a characteristic and not an aberration.
4. What’s the biggest thing that needs to change going into next week?
Jimmy – The Packers need to establish the run. They weren’t given much of a chance today to do so after falling behind early, but Rodgers is one of the best quarterbacks off play-action. If the run isn’t established, it hinders their ability to use play-action as effectively. The Packers have a talented backfield with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, so next week I expect the run to be a big part of the offense.
The final thing the Packers need to do is win the turnover battle. Thankfully next week they face another turnover-happy quarterback Jared Goff, so hopefully we don’t have another Freak Friday situation and the defense can get the ball back.
Dan – This is going to sound like a non-answer, but play with some damn pride next week. It’ll be the first time they’re playing in front of a fully packed Lambeau Field. It’s Monday night. If you can’t find the energy to get up for this one, then you should have a long, hard look at what you’re doing as a player.
A real answer? Make life hell for Jared Goff. He’s going to make mistakes when pressured as we saw this week. The offensive line is banged up. Sewell had a decent game against Bosa, but he’s still a rookie. Put pressure on this line and force Goff to watch his line and not down the field.