On a wet and rainy day at Lambeau Field, the Green Bay Packers hosted the Los Angeles Rams in Week 9 of the 2023 NFL season. The Packers were coming off 4 straight losses, including 2 at home in that span. While the Packers continued to shoot themselves in the foot with a myriad of penalties, they were able to play complementary football for the first time since Week 1. After a sloppy first half by both offenses, Green Bay was able to make a few more plays and beat the Rams 20-3. The Packers leaned heavily on their rushing attack with the return of Showtyme.
After sustaining a hamstring injury in Week 1, the Packers have been conservative with their usage of Aaron Jones. Those type of soft tissue injuries tend to linger, and Green Bay wanted to make sure they were able to have their best player on offense available for the long haul. Matt LaFleur told reporters this week that he was ready to “cut him loose” in reference to Jones. The Packers head coach was true to his word as Jones logged 20+ touches for the first time since November 13th, 2022. The 7th-year man out of El Paso has been a consistent bright spot for the Packers. He finished Sunday’s game with 99 all-purpose yards and a touchdown. When #33 is on the field, the Packers are a much better football team. It’s no coincidence that the offense seemed to run better when he was the focal point of the game-plan. His ability as a dual threat runner and pass-catcher gives the Packers a better chance to win every week.
Another Packers player who performed well on Sunday was quarterback Jordan Love. He played so well because one very much improved area for the Packers was the play of the offensive line. Love had plenty of time in the pocket, which led to more success in the passing game than what we’ve seen. It isn’t possible to truly stop Aaron Donald, but Green Bay didn’t allow him to take over and dominate. As a team, the Packers averaged nearly 5 yards per rush. The run game helped keep the Packers ahead of the sticks, allowing them to get into their game plan and create opportunities in the passing game. The playmaking burden was taken off Love’s shoulders and he was able to put together a turnover-free performance with much better decision-making. He finished the day completing a season-high 76.9 percent of his passes, going 20/26 with 228 yards, 1 TD and a 115.5 passer-rating.
Matthew Stafford missed the game due to a thumb injury, so it was Brett Rypien in at quarterback for the Rams. Regardless, it was good performance by the Packers defense who was put in several difficult situations. With two rookies starting in the secondary (Carrington Valentine and Anthony Johnson), the Packers minimized the impact of Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua. Rypien completed a mere 13 passes and had only one passing play over 20 yards. The Rams passing game finished with 119 total yards on 29 drop backs. Rypien had no help from the run game, which gave running backs Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson 22 attempts but produced only 68 total yards. The Rams averaged fewer than 4 yards per play and less than 3 yards per rush. Green Bay was able to force two takeaways- something the unit has struggled to do so far this season.
The Rams are obviously not a very good football team and were without their starting quarterback. Despite the circumstances, this was a game the Packers needed to win if they have any aspirations of reviving their season. Here’s to hoping this game was a good first step in this team improving its play in all 3 phases. The schedule is only going to get tougher going forward, so we are going to see what this team is made of. The Packers travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers next week.