Outside of their only two scoring drives on the day, the Green Bay Packers never looked like they wanted to win their Week 3 road contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But their defense put together a superb performance, helped keep Tom Brady in check, and made up for the stagnant offensive attack.
Only scoring 14 points usually means trouble, but when your defense only allows 12, that usually means a win. Having forced two fumbles in their win, the defense earned this win, but surprisingly enough, it was the special teams unit that played a big part in that too.
There isn’t a ton to talk about here, seeing as how they struggled to run the ball and Matt LaFleur did not want to commit to a sustained passing attack.
Green Bay’s only two scoring drives, which came consecutively in the first half, each were comprised of double-digit plays (10 and 12). It took the Packers 40 plays to complete the other 10 drives in the game, seven of which resulted in punts.
An uninspiring 255-yard, 1-interception performance by Aaron Rodgers was salvaged by two touchdowns – one each to Allen Lazard and rookie Romeo Lazard. His one sack was a bit unexpected, seeing as how good the front seven for the Buccaneers is.
Their penchant for equal involvement in the rushing game from both Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon held true today, as each back earned exactly 12 carries. Jones finished with more yardage (36 to 32), but both players struggled to find running lanes all game, struggling to low yardage averages.
Through the air, it was Doubs, Robert Tonyan, and Lazard that led the way, as these three combined for 21 targets. Doubs earned his first major workload and he responded extremely well, hauling in all eight passes for 73 yards and his first career NFL TD.
With fellow rookie Christian Watson missing more time, Doubs stepped up well into a larger role and showcased his budding chemistry with Rodgers every time he was targeted. As both teams dealt with injury-ravaged wide receiver cores, Doubs likely will begin to see an uptick in workload even when Watson returns.
Also, big-time shoutout to David Bakhtiari and his return to an NFL game – while he rotated drives with Yosh Njiman, he looked really solid out there, and the OL finally looked like it was at full strength.
It may not have looked pretty on that final drive of the game, but the defense for Green Bay was on another level on Sunday. It is not easy to put Tom Brady in a box, and yes, he was missing his top three WRs (Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Julio Jones), but he is still Tom Brady at the end of the day.
Even with Jaire Alexander’s early exit due to a groin injury, the secondary was up for the challenge right off the bat. Keisean Nixon stepped up in a big way when Alexander departed, recording the third-most tackles (7) while also forcing Tampa Bay’s second fumble of the game. Not expected to have a huge role this year, if Alexander’s injury is serious enough for him to miss time, Nixon will become the full-time slot corner moving forward.
While it certainly was not called as such, it was pretty obvious that Rashan Gary was making his presence felt in each and every play. Plenty of video evidence exists that he was being held on most plays, which certainly is a flattering compliment, but his explosiveness in the trenches kept Brady guessing all game.
Gary lived in the backfield, recording a sack, a QB hit, and a tackle for loss. With Tampa Bay’s offensive line facing some injury issues as well, Gary earned a lot of favorable matchups Sunday, and even if he did not get to the QB, he forced OC Byron Leftwich to switch his play calls to more of a quick-pass format.
De’Vondre Campbell was the reason that this team won this game, seeing as how he deflected the two-point conversion at the end of the game. His 14 tackles led this team by a considerable margin, and he was consistently forced into unfavorable slot matchups with WRs that he more than held his own on.
Surprisingly enough, there are good things from the special teams unit that can be discussed – this feels borderline illegal.
Pat O’Donnell was instrumental in pinning the Buccaneers deep on multiple occasions, including a punt that was downed at Tampa’s two-yard line. He averaged just over 48 yards per punt, and five of his seven punts on the day ended up inside the 20-yard line.
Both Rudy Ford and Nixon were flying down as gunners and frequently forced returns into bad decisions, and they kept Jaelen Darden under wraps (8.7 average yards per return). Coverage units were probably the best that had been seen in over a season, so it’s fair to say that the offseason hiring of Rich Bisaccia has finally helped steer this awful unit in the right direction.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