The good news is the Green Bay Packers secured their first win since Sept. 24.
The bad news is it was against the Los Angeles Rams who were without their starting quarterback, and the Packers made many of the same mistakes we’ve seen week after week in the first half of the year – they just happened to be playing a lifeless opponent.
I can’t stress enough how awful the Rams are in the absence of Matthew Stafford. This is, by far, the easiest game Green Bay will play all year. To their credit, the Packers took care of business.
Fourth-year quarterback Brett Rypien made his fourth career start in place of Stafford. In short, Rypien proved he doesn’t belong on an NFL field… or maybe even a spring league field.
This game essentially answered the question of what it would look like to watch a great college team play against a bad NFL team. The NFL team still won, fairly handedly, but it wasn’t pretty.
I don’t see how the takeaway from this game can be that the Packers have turned some corner. Sure, it was one of Jordan Love’s better games of the season, Aaron Jones finally got a sizeable workload, and the defense allowed just 3 points, but there were far too many of the same mistakes this team has consistently made.
The Rams’ offense in particular was so bad with Rypien at the helm this game that I don’t take an awful lot away from the Packers’ great defensive performance. Rypien simply is not an NFL quarterback. I think the Packers probably lose this game if Stafford plays.
I really liked what we saw from rookie cornerback Carrington Valentine in place of the injured Eric Stokes and recently-traded Rasul Douglas. Valentine finally again flashed what we saw from him in the preseason.
There’s a lot to like from what the Packers’ offensive did in this game, though I can’t help but feel that with the short fields they were gifted by the moribund Rams’ offense, Green Bay should’ve put up even more points in this game. A truly good team destroys the Rams in this situation. I mean, it was still just 10-3 entering the 4th quarter, despite Love being sharp in the second half.
Aaron Jones suddenly received 20 carries this week – he hadn’t gotten 20+ carries since Week 10 of last season vs the Cowboys. Seemingly every week, Matt LaFleur talks about how he needs to get Jones the ball more… now he finally does it, and it’s against this Rams team? I’m not complaining, as his presence certainly was felt and contributed to the win, but LaFleur’s consistent inconsistency when it comes to Jones’ usage has been maddening for years.
However, I loved the play LaFleur admittedly stole from the San Francisco 49ers and his former mentor Kyle Shanahan to get rookie tight end Luke Musgrave wide open for his first career touchdown and seal the game. This is the kind of playcalling that’s been missing from this offense since about Week 2.
Green Bay committed 8 penalties this game, an improvement over last week for sure. It just feels like these always come at the worst times. The Packers converted two 4th-and-shorts that were called back by an offensive line penalty. Though a couple were definitely questionable calls, the penalties on the offense and the line specifically are a consistent issue.
Undoubtedly, there’s plenty of positive to take from this game. But, based on what we saw from this game and what we’ve been seeing all season, I’m not sure this game is as much about the Packers turning it around as it is getting a (finally) doable “get right” game in a big spot coming off a four-game skid.
The Rams desperately tried to trade for former backup QB John Wolford from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the week. Los Angeles would’ve rather played Wolford with limited preparation in a short week than start Rypien. It’s telling of how doomed even the Rams felt they were from the start.
To reiterate: The Packers looked much, much better in this game than they have for over a month, and it was a lot of fun to watch them win again – let’s just see them beat a real NFL team before getting too excited and overselling the development of the operation.
A very tough stretch of the Steelers, Chargers, Lions and Chiefs await the Packers.