The Green Bay Packers won a game of inches by the tip of LB De’Vondre Campbell’s fingertips 14-12 in Tampa Bay. Here are four thoughts on the team heading into Week 4
1. The defense did what it should against an undermanned unit and made the biggest play late in the game
We heard all week how the Buccaneers were entering this game as a wounded dog, but we’ve all seen Tom Brady drag poor situations across the finish line to a victory. The Green Bay Packers defense set the tone early, bowing their backs on the opening drive despite losing Jaire Alexander to a groin injury on the opening possession.
The defensive front was active and nasty all afternoon, recording a trio of sacks (2 Clark, 1 Gary) and getting pressure early and throughout the game on Brady. Brady countered by getting the ball out of his hands in his usual blink and miss it time, but the Green Bay Packers were all over the depleted Bucs receiving corps.
Perhaps the biggest sign of the tides changing for the Green Bay Packers defense is the return to great play of LB De’Vondre Campbell and S Adrian Amos. Both were instrumental in keeping the middle of the field under control for the majority of the game and made splash plays: Amos helping rookie LB Quay Walker force a monumental fumble right before the half and Campbell tipping away Tampa’s last gasp 2pt Attempt.
The Green Bay Packers will hope to see a speedy recovery by Alexander, but it was promising to see Special Teams specialist Keisean Nixon come in as the Nickel CB and hold his own against the reserve Bucs. It remains to be seen how replicable that is against better competition, but for one Sunday, Nixon did his best Jarrett Bush Super Bowl XLV impersonation.
The Green Bay Packers will look to keep the defensive momentum rolling against what should be 3 compromised offenses in the next 3 weeks, all home games at that, as they build towards becoming the Top-10 unit many fans expected all offseason.
2. The Offensive Line is going to be good when they’ve got 4-5 starts together
Green Bay Packers LT David Bakhtiari made his triumphant return and, while he alternated series with Yosh Nijman throughout the game, looked good and helped to bolster the offensive line. It can’t be properly quantified how much Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins stabilize this OL no matter where the two line up.
The Green Bay Packers opened the game with Bakhtiari starting and ran most of their runs to his side. The Green Bay Packers executed their game plan splendidly in the 1st half, driving for 2 straight touchdowns and looking to be in position for a 3rd consecutive score when an unfortunate fumble by Jones at the Tampa 1yd line scuttled a great drive.
The offense did suffer a lull in the 2nd half, fed by (questionable) penalty calls and missed opportunities. Overall, Rodgers mostly had a clean pocket and time to throw despite facing a feverish Bucs pass rush.
The team needs to await the news on Josh Myers, who was injured late in the contest, but hopefully, the Green Bay Packers will get good news on his injury so the same unit can start at home against the Patriots.
Also, fans dogging Bakhtiari for having to alternate snaps need to get a grip – he played more snaps than he did vs the Lions last year in Week 18 and the Green Bay Packers need to exhaust any and all options to make sure that this time, Bakh is back for good.
As much as some are prognosticating (or hoping), don’t expect to see Nijman get snaps at Right Tackle until Bakhtiari has played a few complete games in a row.
But if the Green Bay Packers can keep their best five healthy, this unit should again challenge to be one of the best Packers OLs of the past decade. And that should put a smile on the face of every Green Bay Packers fan.
3. The Special Teams did their job for the majority of the game
The Green Bay Packers have a Wefense. Coordinator Rich Bisaccia’s unit was absolute nails for about 95% of the game outside of two extremely dubious penalty calls that heavily swung field position back in the Bucs’ favor – the Running into the Kicker penalty was cheeks because the defender was thrown into the punter and the Block in the Back should not have been awarded to a gunner making such a grift.
Bisaccia’s units have looked so much more steady and stabilized than any unit since the 1996 Super Bowl roster. The Green Bay Packers are able to have a level of comfort when they roll their Wefense out on the field. Heck, they even recovered the onside kick to seal the game…though Tyler Davis needs to run up-downs for his decision-making on the play.
Punter Pat O’Donnell has been absolute fire so far this season, pinning the Bucs deep in their own territory multiple times this game.
The Green Bay Packers front office also deserves credit for listening to their Special Teams Coordinator’s opinion on roster cutdowns – Gunners Rudy Ford and Keisean Nixon have been night and day better from anyone the Green Bay Packers have trotted out at those positions in the past 20 years and Dallin Leavitt has been a sturdy anchor for the punt and kick off coverage units.
Time will tell how this unit settles in as the season progresses, but it feels like this unit is due for a splash play at some point this year.
4. What will the Green Bay Packers do with this win?
We often hear that wins can create momentum for teams. Vibes in the locker room improve, camaraderie grows, and spirits are high. Will the Green Bay Packers go on a roll?
The schedule sets up relatively favorably in the next month, with 4 games against teams with questionable offenses – NE looks to have lost QB Mac Jones to a bad ankle injury – before facing their next measuring stick game against the explosive Buffalo Bills.
Rookie WR Romeo Doubs may be turning a corner on offense and – most importantly – building some rapport with Rodgers, the keystones of the OL are back and look solid in their returns, and the defense looks to be coming together.
The Green Bay Packers have everything in front of them and how good they can be will be on their own shoulders. We will need to monitor the health of Alexander and Myers moving forward, but the team looks to have gotten out of a physically taxing environment relatively healthy.
Game on Wisconsin will continue to have your coverage of the Green Bay Packers as they prep for their home game against the Patriots. Here’s to 2-1!