Bad Credit

The good, the bad and the ugly of the Green Bay Packers loss to the Minnesota Vikings

Maybe next summer, Matt LaFleur will play his starters in the preseason.

For the second year in a row, the LaFleur bubble enveloped his team during the show season. The only starters LaFleur played in Green Bay’s three preseason games were his starting offensive line and rookie linebacker Quay Walker.

For the second year in a row, the Packers were then whipped in their season opener.

On Sunday, Green Bay was out of sync from the start and was drilled by host Minnesota, 23-7. A year ago, the Packers were hammered by New Orleans, 38-3.

“It’s been two years in a row that we’ve come out of Week 1 and looked unprepared,” LaFleur said. “So I think we’re all going to look within and we’ll make the necessary corrections because there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself in this league.”

The Packers now have 10 total points in their final two season openers. The last time they had less was in 2005-06, when they scored three combined points in those two games.

Detroit defeated Green Bay, 17-3, in the 2005 season opener, which was Mike Sherman’s final year as head coach. And Chicago shut out the Packers, 26-0, in the 2006 season opener, which was Mike McCarthy’s first game as Green Bay head coach.

“You’d like to be sitting here with very few mental errors in Game 1 because it prevents you from writing about preseason or anything,” Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “But the truth is that we are professionals. There is a performance expectation. It starts with preparation. There were just too many preparation issues. It was surprising.

Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly of the Vikings’ victory over the Packers.

GOOD

STARTING THE GAME : There weren’t many positives for the Packers, but Green Bay running backs were effective.

AJ Dillon had 10 carries for 45 yards (4.5) and a touchdown. Dillon also led the Packers with five receptions for 46 yards.

Aaron Jones had only five carries, but ran for 49 yards (9.8). Jones also caught three passes for 27 yards.

The biggest problem, however, was that LaFleur didn’t call their numbers enough — something he later admitted.

“Any time Aaron Jones comes out of a game with eight touches, it’s not enough,” LaFleur said. “And AJ Dillon, what, he had 10 or more? It’s not good enough.

ROBERT TONYAN: The Packers tight end tore his anterior cruciate ligament in Week 8 last season. Tonyan’s recovery went extremely well and he returned to the field on Sunday.

Tonyan finished with three catches for 36 yards. And for a Green Bay team with virtually no talent tight behind Tonyan, his return was a huge blessing.

“He looks great,” Rodgers said of Tonyan last week. “He’s really good. He has big hands. It’s a really intuitive road runner. He has good instincts. »

And fortunately for the Packers, Tonyan and his immense talent were back on the field on Sunday.

THE BAD

Aaron Rodgers: 18eThe Quarterback of the Year wasn’t sharp and out of sync with his new wide receivers throughout.

Rodgers was 22 of 34 for just 195 yards, a pass attempt average of just 5.7 yards. Rodgers threw one interception, no touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of just 40.7.

Rodgers also had little to no chemistry with a group of wide receivers without Davante Adams. The Green Bay wides combined for 12 receptions and 120 yards, while Adams — who now plays for Las Vegas — had 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown.

DISCONTINUED SERIES: Rodgers threw his first interception against an NFC North team since Dec. 29, 2019. It happened in the regular season finale against Detroit.

In his 12 division games since then, Rodgers has thrown 38 touchdown passes and no interceptions. The Packers went 9-3 in those games.

Late in the first half, however, Rodgers threw deep for Randall Cobb, but Minnesota safety Harrison Smith made a bounding interception.

“The choice was a really stupid decision on my part,” Rodgers said. “The game was a good game and we totally blocked it badly.”

Rodgers also lost a fumble in the third quarter after being sacked by linebacker Jordan Hicks.

PROTECTION — OR LACK OF PROTECTION: Rodgers was under duress all day, largely because Green Bay was without starting tackles David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Without those two Pro Bowlers, Yosh Nijman started at left tackle and Royce Newman played at right tackle.

With the line revamped, Rodgers was sacked four times and knocked out several more. Part of that was on Rodgers for holding the ball too long. But much of it was also on an overmatched offensive line.

“It’s an excuse, so we don’t like to say that,” Rodgers said of playing without Jenkins and Bakhtiari. “These guys are NFL players. Anyone in there is expected to play well. We had a lot of chances today. I don’t take anything away from their defence, but we were injured several times, myself included. We had plenty of chances to score more than seven.”

Both Bakhtiari and Jenkins are coming back from ACL injuries, but at very different speeds.

Bakhtiari tore his ACL on December 31, 2020 and underwent three surgeries in his comeback attempt. Bakhtiari took part in team exercises last Wednesday and Thursday, but did not train on Friday and was inactive on Sunday.

Jenkins tore his anterior cruciate ligament in late November last season, opened training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, then was released from the PUP list on August 21.

While the Packers were cautiously optimistic both players would be ready for Game 1, they weren’t. And Minnesota took full advantage of it.

RUN DEFENSE: We talked a lot all summer about the defense of Green Bay. And this unit could eventually become dominant.

But the Packers’ run defense has been a problem for years, and Sunday was no different.

Minnesota ran for 126 yards on 28 carries and averaged 4.5 yards per carry. Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook carried 20 times for 90 yards (4.5) and Alexander Mattison added 36 yards on eight carries (4.5).

If the Packers want to become an elite defense, they need to be much tougher against the run.

THE UGLY ONE

CONTAINING JEFFERSON: Minnesota’s Justin Jefferson is one of the NFL’s elite wide receivers. In his first two years in the league, Jefferson had 196 receptions, 3,016 yards and 17 touchdowns.

The way Jefferson ran free Sunday, however, you’d think the Packers had never heard of him.

Jefferson finished with nine catches for 184 yards and two touchdowns. And on a handful of his receptions, Jefferson was left wide open.

Afterwards, Packers All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander said he lobbied to line up with Jefferson, but his request was denied.

“All week (I) asked for this game,” Alexander said. “But it’s not about me. It’s about the team. It’s not about me. If that was my way, you know what I would do.

Green Bay is playing a good deal of zone coverage, which LaFleur says makes it difficult to just tell Alexander to follow Jefferson

“It doesn’t necessarily always work that way,” LaFleur said. “If you just commit to playing man cover the whole game, of course you can do that. But they do a good job getting him into different positions, whether it’s in the slot, whether he’s moving.

“It looked like he was on the move a bit, just moving him around. You have to give him credit. They put him in the top spots and attacked our covers well.

CHRISTIAN WATSON: The rookie wide receiver had the chance to make his first game in a Packer uniform one to remember.

In Green Bay’s first offensive snap of the season, Watson lined up to the right of the Packers 25-yard line and ran a tee road. Watson whipped cornerback Patrick Peterson and Rodgers delivered a perfect pass.

Watson was a stone’s throw away from Peterson and safety Harrison Smith was late to arrive. The ball hit Watson in stride at the Minnesota 30-yard line and he had a clear path to the end zone.

Instead, the ball slipped through Watson’s hands in a play that predicted things to come for Green Bay.

“It’s tough, obviously,” Watson said. “I missed the first one. You don’t know how many more you’re going to get. You assume there’s going to be a lot more, obviously that’s the first one. It was obviously tough. It’s a game that I know I can do. I just move forward knowing that I’ve done this game 100 times in the past and I’m going to do it the next time it comes my way.

FIRST HALF: The Packers were completely outplayed in the first half and trailed 17-0 at the break.

Minnesota beat Green Bay, 262-100, and had 12 first downs to just six for the Packers. The Vikings averaged 7.5 yards per play and Green Bay averaged 3.8 yards per play.

Minnesota averaged 7.5 yards per passing play compared to Green Bay’s 4.3 yards. And the Packers’ five possessions in the first half ended in a punt reversal on a punt interception.