Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets hit different. For the first time in several years, the Packers played a game that was downright embarrassing. All three phases looked disorganized and disinterested in playing football. There’s no excuse at the point in the season that players don’t know where they are supposed to be, and the lack of effort and heart was apparent. The Packers are at an early crossroads in the season. Will the team come together to solve the numerous issues or will they break apart. The perfect matchup comes up in the schedule to begin to right the ship, with the 2-4 Washington Commanders. There are Packers position groups that need to turn their play around immediately if the Packers are going to return to their winning ways.
The offensive line has been shaky all season and bottomed out against the Jets. The biggest culprit is guard Royce Newman. The expected second year jump for him instead was a faceplant. He often is going one way when the rest of the team is going the other. If it’s frustrating as a fan to see this repeatedly, imagine what it’s like for a player. He’s currently a player that is clearly thinking about how not to screw up, and that leads to more mistakes. Combine that with his lack of functional strength and he’s the player every team is going to target. Lafleur already tried to bench him, but Jake Hanson suffered an injury the same drive he replaced Newman.
All options are on the table and changes are a must going into this week. If they wanted to limit the number of moving parts, the Packers could try promising rookie Zach Tom at guard. This would keep the rest of the line intact. However, if they would rather get their 5 best offensive linemen on the field, they could push Elgton Jenkins to right guard and then try Yosh Nijman at right tackle. Regardless of what they decide, the Packers need to get Newman out of the starting lineup, for his sake and theirs.
After the investment made at inside linebacker this offseason, it was expected that the position would be the heartbeat of the defense. In some ways it is, as both De’Vondre Campbell and rookie Quay Walker have looked underwhelming thus far. Walker in particular looks like his head is swimming at times. Understandable for a rookie, but terrifying that there is so much riding on his rapid development. He should progress as the season goes along and has flashed multiple times already. More concerning is Campbell’s pedestrian season. Whether he is trying to compensate for Walker or not, he isn’t the attacking linebacker that earned him all pro honors last year.
Joe Barry needs Walker and Campbell to make a big jump in their play. He designed this defense to be played with both of them on the field. Both players are elite athletes, so if the Packers can get them both playing faster and thinking less, it will mean good things for the defense, particularly against the run.
To nobody’s surprise, wide receiver is listed here. There are a whole host of issues all over the offense right now, and the Packers receivers are no exception. Running routes into each other, dropping passes, and little separation has the Packers passing game in shambles. Solving these issues are luckily doable, and it starts off the field and in the meeting room. Learning more and more what Coach LaFleur and Aaron Rodgers expect on each play will go a long way towards solving the route running issues. Also understanding the overall scheme in regard where they are supposed to be will go a long way to creating separation on routes.
Unfortunately, injuries to Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb and Christian Watson have left the team depleted. Reinforcements are not coming, at least not right now. Allen Lazard and rookie Romeo Doubs are going to need to shoulder the load until their teammates can return to the field.
Jordan is a lifelong Packer fan who grew up in Idaho and now lives in Seattle, Washington. You can follow him on twitter at @jordantwolf.