Every Thursday, Patrick Kotnik provides two observations, a quote of the week, one question, and a prediction regarding the Green Bay Packers.
Red zone struggles on offense continue — Along with Green Bay’s defense allowing a touchdown on every red zone trip this season, the offense is having issues in the red zone itself.
Despite the difference, don’t count on Matt LaFleur paying attention to the statistics. The third-year head coach may have a point by saying he’s only concerned about winning, but the craziness that unfolded in Cincinnatti could’ve been avoided had the Packers been more efficient in the red zone.
The Green Bay Packers scored just two touchdowns on five of their red zone trips. The other three consisted of a 22-yard field goal by Mason Crosby in the fourth quarter and two missed field goal attempts (one would’ve been the go-ahead score in the fourth, the other would’ve been the game-winner in overtime).
While in the red zone, Green Bay’s play calls were even at six run plays and six through the air.
Both Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams were asked today about how they can be better in the red zone. Both of them answered "Be more aggressive."
— Aaron Nagler (@AaronNagler) October 13, 2021
This team has been playing good football en route to a current 4-1 record and as we saw in 2019, a win is a win. But there’ll be more cause for concern if the red zone inefficiency costs the team games.
Another chapter in the NFL’s oldest rivalry begins — Packers-Bears week is always a dandy.
Amongst the constant banter between the two fan bases via social media, lies the oldest rivalry in the NFL dating back to 1921, filled with rich, prestigious legacies between both franchises that include championships, legendary coaches and Hall of Famers.
Plus, new background storylines emerge every year such as Chuck Pagano retiring because he didn’t want to keep facing Aaron Rodgers every year and Rodgers saying he doesn’t see himself making the Windy City his new future home Wednesday.
Aaron Rodgers was asked to name all the Bears quarterbacks since he became starter. Rodgers, who maybe has the NFL's best recall, was able to name four.
Kinda says something, no?
— Ryan Wood (@ByRyanWood) October 13, 2021
Another chapter emerges on Sunday as Justin Fields looks to dethrone Rodgers as the best quarterback in the NFC North, while Chicago looks to even up things up in the division.
With this being widely viewed as Rodgers’ last season in Green Bay, I’m sure some will look at these matchups against the Bears as a potential changing of the guard. But Green Bay has its future in Jordan Love learning behind Rodgers for the second straight year and the Packers have had Chicago’s number, accumulating a 19-3 record against its division rival in the past 22 matchups.
Whatever the future holds, always take time to not only enjoy every Packers game you watch but the classic rivalries and matchups that come with them. This rivalry should definitely be near the top if not, the pinnacle of the NFL’s best.
Quote(s) of the Week: “How in the hell was this guy on the street?” —Aaron Rodgers on De’Vondre Campbell
Sorry, no piss quote from Matt LaFleur this week.
De’Vondre Campbell is a concrete example of why you shouldn’t judge free agent signings at first glance. You could argue that there was a very good chance that he would end up like the other inside linebackers the Green Bay Packers have signed over the years (e.g. Antonio Morrison and Christian Kirksey).
But it’s clear now that the Packers have found a gem in Campbell and the signing is paying dividends. The sixth-year player out of Minnesota leads the Green Bay defense with 48 tackles and two interceptions.
De'Vondre Campbell through Week 5:
• 48 tackles
• 2 INTs
• 3 PBUs
• 1 TKFL
• 1 FR
• @PFF's 4th-highest graded LB (minimum 20% of snaps)
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) October 11, 2021
Aside from his team-leading stats, Campbell is all over the field and isn’t afraid to deliver hits to ball carriers while showcasing his ability to cover some quality receivers in the slot.
Campbell has undoubtedly been a bright spot for a Packers defense dealing with injuries to Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander, Kevin King and others.
1 Question: How does Jaylon Smith figure into Green Bay’s defensive plans?
Speaking of inside linebackers, how Jaylon Smith will be involved in Joe Barry’s defense remains unclear.
Signed after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, Smith saw his playing time in Dallas decrease in favor of first-round draft pick Micah Parsons and Keanu Neal. Smith, a pro bowler in 2019, still believes he’s an elite player and there’s reason to be optimistic about his potential in Green Bay now that he’s reunited with LaFleur.
However, the Packers have two inside linebackers ahead of Smith in the aforementioned Campbell and Krys Barnes. This is something we’ll have to see how this plays out, but at the very least, Smith gives the Packers immediate depth and more experience at linebacker.
It looks like Krys Barnes will be back from a concussion this week, but DC Joe Barry used three-ILB scheme multiple times against Steelers and this might be where Jaylon Smith can help the #Packers. https://t.co/oUFV9Qr0us
— Tom Silverstein (@TomSilverstein) October 6, 2021
Smith can very well thrive with the Green Bay Packers. A change of environment can do someone wonders just like it has with Campbell.
1 Prediction: Eric Stokes records his second interception this week
Chicago’s offense is more dynamic with Justin Fields behind center and Bill Lazor calling the plays, but Green Bay’s defense is coming off its best performance of the season.
This presents an intriguing matchup and it’ll be up to the Packers to not only pressure Fields but also keep him from escaping the pocket and into the open field.
I do believe Fields can be a successful quarterback in the NFL. He’s showing flashes already, but a fellow rookie in Eric Stokes for the Green Bay Packers is already making an impact in the secondary.
Eric Stokes: 4 forced incompletions
Leads all rookie CBs 🥇 pic.twitter.com/vtnG1SlHsc
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 13, 2021
Aside from some pass interference calls, Eric Stokes is having a solid rookie campaign and that will continue this Sunday with an interception against Fields.