The Green Bay Packers are out of the early season and are out of excuses, especially after this 27-10 loss to the New York Jets at home. They’re a tepid team fighting more for relevance than for a playoff spot, and it’s difficult to take them seriously as a contender.
The Packers decided to test the limits of quarterback importance after they shipped off Davante Adams to Las Vegas in order to absorb Aaron Rodgers’ contract. Now, Packers fans are cheering when his backup enters the game.
Packers’ Offense Out of Sync
Green Bay’s scored more points than the league average in only two of their six games, and have the same rate of above-average performance when looking at points per drive. The offense continuously looks out of sync, which would seem excusable two games into the season, but it’s difficult to understand after six.
The Packers aren’t the only team in history to lose their starting star receiver and replace them with a rookie. Across the river in Minnesota, the Vikings did the same with Stefon Diggs and Justin Jefferson. It took two games for Jefferson to get online.
That’s an extreme comparison, but to see an offense falter so significantly after the loss of one non-quarterback player is extraordinary, and it implicates both the star QB — whose tumultuous team relationship and enormous contract create the situation — and head coach Matt LaFleur, who felt like the worst of the two LaFleurs in the matchup against the Jets, where brother Mike is an offensive coordinator.
As LaFleur (Matt) said after the game, “We’re in a pretty bad predicament right now.”
The Packers will likely be aggressive in acquiring another receiver in order to jumpstart the offense, though it’s difficult to imagine an easy fix if the issue is chemistry. How will a new receiver pick up Rodgers’ tendencies any faster than the two rookies who have been there for weeks? That’s particularly the case if they pursue the notoriously freelancing Odell Beckham Jr. once he fully recovers from his ACL injury.
Jets on the Rise
That’s not to take anything away from the Jets. they’ve really built something, both through the past few drafts and smart free agency acquisitions. Already, Sauce Gardner looks like a fantastic pick — like any fourth overall pick should be — but they’ve been getting good performances from Garrett Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Breece Hall, and both Michael Carters.
New York’s seen great games from Quinnen Williams, who took a bit of time before he could make a big impact, and free agents like brother Quinnen’s brother Quincy Williams along with Carl Lawson, D.J. Reed, and Sheldon Rankins.
Leading them all is Zach Wilson, who had some trouble in his first game back from injury but has had two good games, though with just 18 attempts in this contest had less to do with it than the rest of the Jets group.
Packers Defense a Big Disappointment
None of this would have mattered if the Packers’ defense could live up to their talent level. Green Bay has two first-round rookies on defense, and they are joined by cornerback Jaire Alexander, nose tackle Kenny Clark, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, safety Adrian Amos, and edge rusher Rashan Gary. Joining those all-star talents are edge rusher Preston Smith, cornerback Eric Stokes, and safety Darnell Savage. The defense should simply be good. But they’re a problem, too.
Athletic reporter Matt Schneidman asked Alexander after last week’s game against the Giants about when it would be time to be concerned about the defense. Alexander responded with “I ain’t worried, but if we lose next week, then I’ll be worried.”
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In the meantime, the Jets are supplementing a strong AFC East that features a resoundingly talented Bills team and a Dolphins team who are undefeated when their starting quarterback plays the full game. Oh, and the Patriots are still hanging around in the division, too.
It’s hard to think of the Jets as a good team in the same tier as some of the other high-level teams across the league, but they definitely aren’t a bad team. And that’s a great change for a fanbase that’s been tortured by mediocrity for years.
As for the Packers, Alexander said it best. It’s time to be worried.