In the last two season openers, the Green Bay Packers have scored a measly 10 points, and have given up 61. You’d expect most teams with Super Bowl aspirations to come storming out of the gate, ready to steam-roll their first opponent. The Packers, however, seem to just kind of pathetically trot out of the gate as if they’re not even supposed to be there in their last two week 1 games.
Last year, it was a 38-3 nightmare loss to the Saints. This year, a 23-7 nightmare repeat vs the Vikings. What’s oddly similar you ask? Well, Coach Matt LaFleur both times commented how the team came out Week 1 and looked unprepared. He also noted that the team lacked intensity. Another, more odd coincidence, is a lack of touches for star running back, Aaron Jones. Each and every one of these aspects, is rather inexcusable.
We have some intense players on this team. We also have some good veteran leaders. These guys need to keep the rest of the team fired up. Intensity seemed to die almost immediately against the Vikings after Minnesota’s offense scored on their first possession and then Christian Watson dropped what could have been an easy touchdown. It was as if all air was deflated from the Packers sideline at that moment. This team needs to pick each other back up and get fired up for the next play if they want to repeat last year’s (after week 1) success.
Intensity starts in practice. Hopefully coaches and veterans will start to push the intensity in practice a bit. Turn up the competition between the offense and the defense, and maybe things will change come Sunday. This lack of intensity in week 1 will hopefully be a wakeup call to turn up that dial.
This is one that’s frustrating. This is a game that the team can begin preparing for as soon as the schedule is released. After Vikings Wide Receiver Justin Jefferson trounced the Packers secondary for 184 yards and two touchdowns, Packers Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry was asked why he didn’t have Jaire Alexander shadow the star receiver. He responded simply that he didn’t want to change other guys’ roles. So, if one player’s role is changed to adjust to the game, the whole defense just implodes?
We had how long to prepare for Justin Jefferson. One can’t help but think there should’ve been a little clause in the gameplan that says, “If Jefferson beats us early, Jaire is sticking with him, and the rest of you do this.” It’s a little scary to realize that wasn’t done. How are the Packers going to prepare for other games? I hope the Packers prepare for adjustments to the game in the future or this could be a long year.
Lack of Aaron Jones
Many, myself included, discussed how Aaron Jones getting the ball would be a focal point for this Packers offense. To have Jones only then touch the ball 8 times in a game is a bit rough. 5 of those were rushing attempts. It’s understood that Jones is a good pass catcher and will help out a lot in that aspect, but we only handed the ball to our star running back five times? It wouldn’t have changed the game, but both Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur stated that Jones should’ve touched the ball more. Aaron Jones is one of the most selfless players on this Packers team, so he won’t complain.
The road to success this season needed Aaron Jones to take off on week 1. We didn’t get that, but hopefully we can have it take off in week 2 vs Chicago.
I would be amiss if I didn’t make a comment on the lack of starters in Preseason games. I understand the Vikings didn’t play many starters either, but they had most of their offense returning from last year. They already had their chemistry down in game situations. The Packers, not so much. Aaron Rodgers only had game-situation chemistry with Randall Cobb on Sunday when it came to receivers and maybe Juwann Winfree. With so many new faces I feel like it at least would’ve been beneficial to have Rodgers and company run one series each in maybe two Preseason games, make sure they get the bugs out before it really counts.
But maybe that’s why I’m writing articles and not coaching.
It’s on to the Bears. Lambeau Field will be rocking. It’s time to learn from our mistakes, ramp up the intensity, and make sure we come away 1-1 after our home opener.
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.