Three takeaways from the Packers’ crushing Week 1 defeat.
Where do we even start? What was that?
Months of waiting. An offseason of uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ future. This was the Green Bay Packers‘ first game since losing in the NFC Championship, and they produced that?
Forget the big defeats to the San Francisco 49ers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This was the Packers’ worst performance under Matt LaFleur.
Let’s dive into the takeaways.
Offensive line struggles
Among the biggest concerns for Green Bay entering the game was starting two rookies along the offensive line.
And it proved to be an awful day for the offensive line. Rodgers was only sacked once, but the Saints recorded seven QB hits and pressured the reigning MVP all day long. Matt LaFleur abandoned a ground game averaging 2.9 yards per carry.
If this is what a Packers offensive line without David Bakhtiari and Corey Linsley looks like, they could be in some trouble moving forward.
Rough start for Joe Barry
LaFleur made the bold decision to replace Mike Pettine with his own defensive coordinator in the offseason. For all of Pettine’s faults, he did lead the defense to ninth in the rankings last season, with the unit finishing the year strong.
Many were critical of the decision to bring in Barry, who has previously struggled as a defensive coordinator, and this performance certainly didn’t help him.
In hot conditions, Green Bay’s defense allowed consecutive 15-play touchdown drives in the opening half. The Saints’ offense had the ball for just under 18 of the 30 first-half minutes, entering the break with a 17-3 lead.
They struggled at every level. The defensive line offered little resistance to the Saints’ rushing attack, New Orleans putting up 171 yards on the ground at 4.4 yards per carry. Meanwhile, there was next to no pass rush.
In coverage, Kevin King picked up where he left off in the NFC title game. The Packers allowed five touchdown passes to Jameis Winston, who was making his first start since 2019.
Rare mistakes from Aaron Rodgers
In Week 1 last year, Rodgers lit up the Minnesota Vikings’ secondary to begin an MVP campaign. He looked a million miles away from that on Sunday.
Rodgers didn’t appear to trust his protection and was regularly pressured. He had the luxury of standing behind the league’s best offensive line last season. Not today.
Rodgers finished 15 of 28 for 133 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions with a passer rating of 36.8.
His first interception ended a promising drive. Pressured on second-and-7 from the New Orleans nine-yard line, Rodgers was rushed into a throw, missing Davante Adams and effectively taking points off the board. He didn’t throw a pick in the red zone all of last season.
His second was even more of a head-scratcher. Facing a third-and-7 from the Green Bay eight-yard line, Rodgers threw deep towards Marquez Valdes-Scantling in double coverage. It was effectively a punt.
The pass was nowhere near MVS. There was little the Packers’ receiver could do about it as he watched the ball fly over his head and into the hands of Marcus Williams.
Rodgers was well off his best on Sunday. That needs to change quickly.