Lately, complimentary football has been a point of contention for the Green Bay Packers. Prime example of this, last year I argued that the Packers defense was the key to the success of the team in 2023. Obviously, this was necessary to allow for the offense to catch up. Well, that didn’t happen and the Packers lost a lot of games early on. Sadly, this became a theme throughout the season.

Complimentary football – or the lack thereof – was the reason for most of the season’s losses and it wasn’t always just the defense that was at fault. The Packer’s offense, defense, and special teams all contributed to the non-complimentary football that was played most of the year.

Don’t get me wrong. There were times last season when a brand of complimentary football was played, and it was a beautiful thing. But, for the most part, there was a lot of frustration.

So, let’s look at some examples of lapses from last season:

Complimentary Football – Defensive Lapses

complimentary football

Finally, the offense gets into a rhythm. Jordan Love and company move right down the field and score a touchdown to either take the lead or get the score closer. Momentum seems to be on the Packers side. Then, out comes the Joe Barry run defense. So of course, the other team’s offense runs through our defense like a hot knife through butter.

Corners are playing ten yards off of the ball, linebackers are put out on a island where they are the only ones within a mile of being able to make a tackle, and safeties are playing so deep, they might as well not have been on the field at all. The Packers’ opponent easily scores and erases any ground that the Green Bay offense gained on the prior drive. This is the definition of a momentum killer.

This was a reality last season, especially at end-of-half, end-of-game situations. Here are two examples:

Saints at Packers

The Green Bay offense couldn’t do anything through the first three quarters of this game. Heading into the fourth quarter the Saints were leading the Packers 17-0. The defense started playing well in the second half and in the fourth, Jordan Love came alive.

Love put the team on his back and led the Packers down the field to score the go-ahead touchdown with only 2:56 remaining in the game. Finally, all the Packers defense had to do was play like they had in the second half and they were going to win.

They didn’t.

The Saints went right down the field and got into field goal range. Thank goodness the kicker was wide-right or the Packers would have lost. Against the Giants, Green Bay wasn’t so lucky.

Packers at Giants

After having beaten the Lions and Chiefs in back-to-back weeks, the Packers were heavily favored to beat the Giants at MetLife stadium. This game was tight and stayed that way all the way up to the bitter end. However, late in the game, Love showed his ability to maintain his composure and lead an offense that has been struggling all game to grind out a hard fought win. Overcoming how he played earlier, Love took the team down the field and scored the go-ahead touchdown on a beauty of a pass to Malik Heath with 1:33 remaining in the game.

The Packers celebrated with what seemed like a win against the Giants. Joe Barry and the defense had other plans. The Barry led defense played soft coverage and allowed Tommy DeVito to cook. The Giants were able to get into field goal range and kick the game winner with zeroes on the clock. This was the definition of uncomplimentary football.

The Packers defense wasn’t the only one guilty of this though.

Complimentary Football – Offense

A few times in the season, the Packers offense wasn’t able to capitalize on defensive stands. Here is an example:

love intercepted - complimentary football

Packers at Raiders

With 14:56 remaining in the game, the Raiders were able to score a touchdown to take the lead. And even though the Packers defense let the Raiders score here, they continued to fight during the fourth quarter and gave the offense plenty of opportunities to retake the lead.

The offense wasn’t able seal the victory.

The Packers first attempt to take the lead, Jordan Love led the team to the Raiders 40-yard line before being sacked by Maxx Crosby. On the subsequent play, Love threw an interception. That drive ended.

The Packers and Rashan Gary got a clutch stop with a sack on Jimmy Garoppolo. Raiders had to punt back to the Packers. Green Bay’s second drive was a quick one after a missed throw deep to Watson.

Raiders got the ball back with 4:55 remaining in the game. The Packers defense was able to stop the Raiders and force a long field goal attempt in which Daniel Carlson missed. The Packers offense got the ball back in great field position. However, it was not to be on the Packers third attempt in the fourth-quarter as Love threw an interception in the endzone. Another example of uncomplimentary football.

Complimentary Football – Divisional Round

And then there are examples in which everyone drops the metaphorical ball when it comes to complimentary football. An example of this is what happened in the fourth quarter against the 49ers in the Divisional Round.

un complimentary football love after 9ers

Packers at 49ers

The Packers played a very good third quarter against the 49ers. However, that for some reason changed in the fourth quarter. The final quarter began with a long field goal attempt by Jake Moody who made the kick.

The offense had been playing well up to that point but Love missed a wide open Aaron Jones on third down and the Packers had to punt. Green Bay needed the defense to step up and after letting up some yardage, the defense did get the stop. The Packers offense then moved the ball way down the field thanks to an Aaron Jones massive run. The offense just needed the special teams and Anders Carlson to make a 41-yard attempt. He missed it just left.

The Packers defense needed to bail out the special teams and the offense. They needed to hold them to at least a field goal. If the defense could just play like they had most of the game, then they would have been able to do this.

All of sudden, Purdy was looking like a league MVP against a defense that was playing way too soft. The drive ended with McCaffrey in the endzone with a minute left. So, the offense needed to come through in the end. Sadly, they didn’t.

After having moved the ball a bit, Love threw a pass late and over the middle. Intercepted.

Complimentary Football in 2024

For the Packers to get where they want to go in 2024, they absolutely need to be better at complimentary football. This is why, I believe, that they let go of Joe Barry. His lack of aggressive play calls at the end of halves cost the Packers a few games this past season. Considered an aggressive coach, Jeff Hafley won’t have the defense playing too soft this next season. I mean, even in OTAs, Hafley has the defenders focusing on stripping the ball out.

The offense was playing much better complimentary football in the second half of last season. So hopefully, that should continue in year two of Jordan Love being the Packers franchise quarterback.

Finally, the biggest question mark on special teams last year was rookie kicker Anders Carlson who missed several kicks that could have changed the outcome of many games this past season. This includes the playoff game against the 49ers. To fix this inconsistency, the Packers brought in some competition for Carlson.

Green Bay is looking to correct these problems from last year and finally get back to playing complimentary football on a more consistent basis. So, if they can do this, they could go a long way this upcoming season.

I hope they are successful!

And as always,

Go Pack Go!


Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.