Green Bay fell, in overwhelming fashion, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, 38-10, in a game that was one-sided (favoring GB) to start but quickly shifted to the other side. And while losing a game is never something a team sets out to accomplish, this loss certainly has its silver lining attached to it.
Aaron Rodgers and the offense looked absolutely like a shell of the one that helped get them to 4-0 to start the year and Matt LaFleur’s insistence on the outside sweep toss (instead of going up the gut where they were more successful) was glaring as well. Surprisingly enough, this game was not on the defense as it usually is, but thankfully they have a perfect opportunity against the Houston Texans on the road in Week 7 to correct their mistakes.
Here are three things that GB needs to improve upon moving forward, using Week 7 as a springboard for that.
Get back to even distribution in the offense – stop trying to force-feed Adams
There is a big difference between wanting to incorporate your top offensive weapon into the gameplan and overfeeding him the ball in his return from injury – guess which option occurred on Sunday for the Packers?
Rightfully so, Rodgers wanted to get back on the same page with Davante Adams after he made his return from injury, and Adams was tasked with matching up against Carlton Davis, an up-and-coming CB for the Bucs. Not only did Davis hold Adams in check mostly for the game, but he actually forced AR’s first interception of the season, taking it back for a TD.
That over-reliance on trying to get Adams the ball is certainly a huge factor that led to the downfall of this offense on Sunday, something that, up to this point, AR and LaFleur had been able to stay away from.
But the offense’s Achilles’ heel ended up being that desire to re-establish that connection when there were plenty of other weapons that they needed to work in instead.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Robert Tonyan, and Equanimeous St. Brown, along with Aaron Jones, are all offensive players that need to see more attention paid to them in the passing game – with Brown returning off the IR, he has earned praise in the past from AR and looks to be in line to finally be used efficiently in LaFleur’s offense.
The Houston secondary is nothing that should scare opponents, making for a perfect time to fix these elements in the passing game – look for Rodgers to try and spread the ball out more to try and determine which options should be used more moving forward.
Backfield timeshare is the key to keeping the offense healthy
While Aaron Jones is the clear-cut top option for the Packers moving forward, both Jamaal Williams and rookie AJ Dillon surely have a role in this offense moving forward.
Williams can certainly do the same things that Jones does through both the air and ground (on a less efficient level), giving the offense the chance to roll Jones out wide to maximize his receiving talents, all while putting a viable RB option in the backfield to not tip their hand.
And for Dillon, his strength is obviously his rushing abilities, something that will come in handy when it gets cold outside at Lambeau Field. But to prepare the Boston College rookie for that time, he needs to earn at least a few touches every game to get him even more accustomed to the game – if he is needed late in December and he has little to no experience toting the ball, how can he be trusted in a crucial moment?
The Texans do not have a tough front seven, giving these three backs a nice opportunity for each to carve out some production and let out some frustration from last week’s loss, all while needing to stay healthy. Especially if Tyler Ervin remains sidelined with his wrist injury, showing multiple usages for all RBs on this roster would go a long way to opening up this playbook moving forward.
Mike Pettine has the shortest of leashes – or at least he should
In a position that he needs to either shape up or get shipped out, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was a questionable bring-back decision that LaFleur made last season, seemingly giving him yet another chance to coach for his job. And while the start of the season showed some promise, Pettine has yet again reverted into his struggles that buried this team last year.
The pass rush has essentially disappeared, as the Smith Bros, Rashan Gary, and others were non-factors in the game report, and the only way you really knew that they were on the field is by looking at the snap counts and not the box score.
While the LB core has been struck with injuries, he needs to get more out of Ty Summers, Oren Burks, and Krys Barnes, the latter of which has really risen above his UDFA status to become a surprise key cog in the defense. Rookie Kamal Martin, once healthy, can come in and help stabilize this unit, but until then, the reinforcements need to pick up the slack.
The defensive secondary is not getting the types of ball-hawking plays that they had last year, and even though Jaire Alexander is yet again playing like the top-flight CB that he is, Kevin King’s injuries have flared up again, and Chandon Sullivan and Josh Jackson have seemed a bit over their heads out there, especially Jackson, who seems like an official draft bust.
Pettine has all the pieces he needs on this team currently to be an above-average DC, yet his unit is failing to perform up to that level yet again – LaFleur needs to have a quick hook on Pettine if the defense continues down this road yet again, because they cannot yet again be the reason this team fails to meet expectations.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23