The Green Bay Packers won their seventh straight game on Thursday night with a 24-21 victory over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals. This team showed grit and fortitude to get the job done despite being severely undermanned. The Packers have made no excuses, they’ve embraced the next man up philosophy and just continue to win.
The Packers committed to the run game, took care of the football (no turnovers), and won the time of possession handily (37:35 to 22:25). Which as we know, is the formula to success under Matt LaFleur.
The Packers have a sizeable lead in the NFC North standings (they have more wins than the other three teams combined), and will likely walk away with the North this season.
So, without further ado, here are my five main takeaways from the week seven win over Arizona.
Matt LaFleur doesn’t get enough respect
Flying across the country on a short week, without eight preferred starters against an undefeated team, no problem. Matt LaFleur is underrated when it comes to adaptation and overcoming the loss of significant role players. I would say this victory is among the very best in his tenure.
Side note: Matt LaFleur is now 33-7 through his first 40 regular-season games. That’s the best of any coach in the Super Bowl era (no small feat) – so let’s give the man the respect he deserves. If he’s not mentioned among the leading candidates for NFL Coach of the Year, you’re not talking about the right people.
AJ Dillon is an absolute load
With the exception of a player like Derrick Henry, there are probably no other players in the NFL who need lead blocking less than second-year running back AJ Dillon. Dillon wasn’t provided with gaping holes by any means on Thursday, but he gained 78 yards regardless of the minimal room to run. Dillon would accrue 80% of his yards after contact (averaging 3.81 after contact per touch) – which is just unheard of.
Fun fact, no player in NFL history has averaged more yards after contact through their first 100 NFL carries than AJ Dillon. He’s a luxury to have in short-yardage situations, and is the perfect complement to Aaron Jones – who’s a top-10 back in his own right.
Bringing Randall Cobb home was the right move
Randall Cobb isn’t as quick as he used to be, but that’s irrelevant now. His connection with 12 brings so much value to the team, especially in a week where the team was especially thin at the position.
The veteran came through once again, this time cashing in on two touchdowns in the red-zone.
What’s most impressive about the former Kentucky standout, is that he’s completely accepted whatever role is being asked of him. Some weeks it’s a much smaller role, and in weeks like this he was asked to play over 50 snaps. He’s shown up and done his job, and is a role model for the other players in the receiving room.
Dean Lowry had himself another good game
There have been few people as critical of Dean Lowry as myself. And I’m happy to admit that I may have been wrong. Lowry had his fourth consecutive good game, this time contributing four pressures and a sack. Yes, the offensive lines he’s faced haven’t exactly been world beaters, but it’s important to take advantage of those match-ups when they present themselves.
It would appear Joe Barry’s scheme better suits Lowry, and he’s playing noticeably more motivated after taking a pay cut just to stay in Green Bay.
Eric Stokes is taking his lumps on the job
Eric Stokes had a rough one on Thursday night. The corner was beaten on a deep ball for the second time in as many weeks. In total, Stokes would allow four catches for 80 yards, and it’s fair to assume they would have been worse had DeAndre Hopkins not been limited to just 15 snaps.
When the cornerback room is healthy he’s not going to be asked to carry such a heavy workload, but expect a few ugly games like this one as he learns on the fly. In the end, this will only make Eric Stokes better.