The 2021 NFL season just kicked off, and it has been a bit of a rough start for the Packers. After losing 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints the team had plenty to say about their loss in the post-game pressers. So, what happened? Well, QB Aaron Rodgers put it simply: “We played bad. I played bad.”
That might be a fair assessment, but there is definitely more to it than this. As Rodgers said, “It’s one game.” There’s a whole season to come yet, even if these kinds of small mistakes early on can be seen as indicative of what’s to come. The main issue the team had in their game against the Saints was a lack of balance. The first half was almost completely eaten up by back-to-back touchdown drives from the Saints, with no breathing room for them to get back on the offense. Almost 18 minutes of the first half disappeared in these back-to-back drives, meaning the Packers entered the half 17-3 down having run only 18 plays.
The Saints had an excellent strategy for keeping the Packers from maintaining a strong passing offense by playing high safety defensive shells. Rodgers dropped back after the first quarter, passing 22 times and handing the ball off for only three rush plays. The Packers found themselves totally unable to break through the Saints defense, or take advantage of the weak links in the defense.
But the whole team, and the coach, were to blame for this. Not just Rodgers. As the coach LaFleur said in the postgame, they just didn’t run the ball enough. They simply didn’t play with enough aggression. From the outset, the Saints were allowed to run offensive rings around the Packers, and they kept breaking through the defence with ease.
While it’s definitely too early for Packers fans to start panicking, the team definitely have a lot to takeaway from this game. That balance of offense and defence is all important, and it simply wasn’t there in Sunday’s game. Week 2 will see the Packers face off against the Lions, and represents a great chance to pull it back at this early point in the season.
As for Rodgers himself, many feel that the coming season will decide his future with the team. The team has not consulted much with Rodgers over the team, despite his insistence that they should do so. Many NFL managers and coaches feel the opposite is true; that the organization should not in any way have decisions made for it by the QB, or any player for that matter. It’s ultimately with the manager to make decisions about things like signings.
Rodgers has said in the past that he feels his is an elite quarterback, and should be treated as such, allowed to make decisions for the team. However, performances like this make that much harder to argue that point. Their defensive struggles were almost as bad as their offensive struggles, simply in the sense that they found so few opportunities to get on the offense for a long time.
In any case, the Packers have a lot to reflect on from this game. It’s early in the season and if the NFL has taught us anything over the years, it’s that you can go from top to bottom and vice versa in a matter of moments, with many bookies still giving good odds on the Packers. For now, what the team needs to do is pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and carry on. There is no depth from which a good team can’t pull themselves back.