The Green Bay Packers started the 2021 season slowly. Make that very slowly. Green Bay gets rocked by the New Orleans Saints and starts the season 0-1 to the tune of a 38-3 loss.
Well, that sucked. It was actually worse than that.
The Packers, after much fanfare and sky-high expectations from themselves and many around the NFL, came out and turned in one of their worst performances since Aaron Rodgers became the starting quarterback. Probably before that, too.
It was a really baffling showing by a team and coaching staff that has appeared in two-straight NFC championship games and while it’s only week one, this team already has some soul searching to do.
Let’s take a look at how this one unfolded.
A Lethargic Start
The Packers started on defense, a strategy I very much favor. Unfortunately, all it did was let the Saints know that the sledding would be pretty easy.
New Orleans put up a field goal and the Packers offense looked like they haven’t played football in years.
A lackluster first quarter ended with the Saints up 3-0.
From Bad to Worse
That slow start turned into slow and bad in a hurry. The Saints picked up where they left off at the end of the first with an easy touchdown pass to running back Alvin Kamara, who was what we thought he was: elusive and dangerous.
Down 10-3, the ball was back in the hands of Rodgers and the offense. Rodgers was sacked on first down, putting the offense too far behind the sticks. We’ve seen how the Packers have struggled to pick up lost yardage and 12 did himself and the team no favors today. The drive ended in a punt.
The Saints promptly moved downfield, picking up chunks of yards against a Packers defense that had no juice. The Packers forced a 4th down and the Saints, with a one-possession lead, opted to forego a field goal and converted for another touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Particularly disappointing was safety Adrian Amos who closed on the pass, didn’t leave his feet to try and disrupt, but instead went for the tackle. Unfortunately, the rules of football state that if the receiver comes down with both feet in the end zone and the ball in hand, it’s a touchdown, whether he’s tackled or not. 17-0 Saints.
The Packers added a Mason Crosby field goal just before the half, taking advantage of the biggest play of the day on offense, a long strike from Rodgers to Davante Adams to put Green Bay in scoring position. The Packers entered the half down 17-3.
Little Did We Know. . .
Those would be the only points on the day for the Packers.
The Packers started the second half with the ball, looking for some signs of life when Rodgers, facing pressure, threw a bad out to Adams and it was picked off. If not for an Elgton Jenkins tackle, it may have resulted in a pick-six.
The Packers defense held, forcing a punt and garnering some hope. That hope quickly faded.
Rodgers was nearly sacked for a safety on first down, the Packers were called for a hold on 2nd down and on 3rd, Rodgers had another ball picked off, this time a long pass down the middle that was nowhere near a receiver.
From there, the Packers seemed to pack it up and fold up the tent.
The Saints went on to score 38 points on the day and the Packers were just trying to get back on the plane home.
Love Makes His Debut
Jordan Love came in and saw some time with the game well out of hand. He made a few nice throws and we got our first glimpse of Randall Cobb back in green and yellow.
As young players do, Love also suffered some growing pains, fumbling near the goal line and turning the ball over and the Saints kneeling out the clock to mercifully end the debacle that was week one of the 2021 season.
It was week one, one game. Last season, the Packers were on the other side of the equation, taking down the Minnesota Vikings after most of their starters sat out the preseason. Most teams’ starters sat out.
But this was not the type of performance we’ve seen from the Matt LaFleur-led Packers and it will be interesting to hear what the team has to say this week.
The Packers return home to Lambeau Field and host the Detroit Lions in week two. What appeared to be a tune-up heading into a big week three matchup against the San Francisco 49ers has now become a very important bounceback game.
There’s reason to expect the Green Bay Packers to handle their business at home and in front of a packed crowd for the first time since two seasons ago, but continued struggles are quickly going to change the narrative of the Packers’ 2021 season from Super Bowl hopeful and the Last Dance to a fading chance.