2. Pass rush disappears
The Packers spent a lot of money to strengthen their pass rush in free agency a year ago. Last season, the Smith Bros. dominated, regularly pressuring quarterbacks and both finishing with double-digit sacks on the year. Outside of one dominant performance by Za’Darius Smith in Week 4 against the Atlanta Falcons, this entire pass rush has struggled to generate pressure consistently.
In total, the Packers didn’t get a single sack on Tom Brady. While they did have four QB hits, this defense simply didn’t get anywhere near enough pressure on the quarterback. Give Brady time — especially with his incredibly talented receiving corps — and it’s game over. Brady found his favorite target Rob Gronkowski five times for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Brady isn’t a mobile quarterback. Collapsing the pocket and putting him under pressure was absolutely crucial for the Packers to be able to win this game. But they couldn’t get it done. Brady was given all day in the pocket to pick apart the defense, while Bucs running back Ronald Jones had a 113-yard, two-touchdown performance. Tampa Bay averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
When the Packers come up against talented offenses with great quarterbacks, the key to winning those matchups will be the pass rush. If you can’t generate pressure, forget about it.