When the Green Bay Packers lose, everybody wins.
That’s just the reality in the NFC North, where the Packers have dominated over the past couple decades. And, boy, was Week 1 a treat for everyone in the North—even though every team in the North also lost.
The Packers, though, failed spectacularly. As the heavy favorites to win the division, no one expected the Packers to get shellacked by the New Orleans Saints, a team fresh off a transition from Drew Brees to Jameis Winston. When all was said and done, the Packers lost 38-3, leaving them with the worst point differential in the league by a significant margin.
So what can we make of this? Were the Packers really extremely overhyped? What did the Saints do to embarrass them like that? Was this just one throw-away performance? And was there anything salvageable from Green Bay’s play?
Let’s take a closer look in our Detroit Lions Week 2 scouting report.
Green Bay Packers
- 13-3 record, 1-1 in playoffs (1st in NFC North)
- 1st in points scored, 13th in points allowed
- Overall DVOA: 3rd (1st on offense, 17th on defense)
We all know who the Green Bay Packers were last year. While their defense took a minor step back, their offense took a huge step forward. Aaron Rodgers was magnificent and won the league’s MVP, and the team nearly made a trip to the Super Bowl if it weren’t for some sketchy coaching decisions down the wire.
Of course, much of the Packers’ season was quickly forgotten with all of the Aaron Rodgers drama that followed. We won’t get into all of that, seeing as that he ended up sticking around after a half-year offseason tantrum.
Key free agent additions: LB De’Vondre Campbell
Key losses: C Corey Linsley, QB Tim Boyle, RB Jamaal Williams, LB Christian Kirksey, DL Montravius Adams, WR Tavon Austin, OT Rick Wagner, G Lane Taylor
Key trades: WR Randall Cobb
2020 NFL draft picks:
Round 1: CB Eric Stokes
Round 2: OL Josh Meyers
Round 3: WR Amari Rodgers
Round 4: G Royce Newman
Round 5: DT Tedarrell Slaton
Round 5: CB Shemar Jean-Charles
Round 6: LB Isaiah McDuffie
Round 6: RB Kylin Hill
The Packers spent most of their free agent money re-signing players that they were in danger of losing: running back Aaron Jones, cornerback Kevin King, tight end Marcedes Lewis and safety Will Redmond—among others. They didn’t, however, come to an extension with All-Pro receiver Davante Adams.
As a result, there aren’t a lot of new faces in Green Bay, but they sure did lose a few familiar ones. Most notably, All-Pro center Corey Linsley scored big in free agency, as the Packers also lost starting offensive tackle Rick Wagner and the oft-injured but longtime guard Lane Taylor.
In the draft, they waited until late Day 2 to please their weapon-hungry quarterback with Amari Rodgers, but otherwise hoped to refuel the offensive line and add a few young defenders, as well. Overall, it’s hard not to see the Packers getting worse this offseason, the question is by how much?
Lost: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (contract not renewed), special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga (fired)
Promoted: Maurice Drayton (from assistant special teams to special teams coordinator
Hired: Joe Barry (defensive coordinator)
Despite a respectable defensive season, the Packers chose not to renew the contract of Pettine, who had held the defensive coordinator title for three years. They ended up hiring Joe Barry, a name you probably recognize. He was the Lions’ defensive coordinator during the dreaded 2008 season. Since then, he’s served as a linebackers coach for the Buccaneers, USC, Chargers, Football Team, and, most recently, with the Rams.
2021 season thus far (0-1)
Week 1: Lost to Saint, 3-38
The Packers’ first game of the season couldn’t have gone any worse. Literally. In Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, the Packers finished dead last in three of the four major categories:
- Pass offense: 32nd
- Run offense: 32nd
- Pass defense: 32nd
The sole aspect of the game they didn’t rank dead last in was run defense, where they landed 21st in DVOA. However, they weren’t particularly good at stopping the Saints rushing attack, either. They gave up 173 yards on the ground and 4.4 yards per carry, and that likely accounts for some low-effort runs late in the game. In the first half, the Saints run offense was unstoppable, rushing for 140 yards and 5.6 yards per carry.
Aaron Rodgers had two bad interceptions, including one in the red zone, and everything else was just a complete and utter disaster.
Key injuries: OT David Bakhtiari (PUP), S Will Redmond (IR), S Darnell Savage (shoulder), TE Josiah Deguara (concussion)
The biggest injury the Packers are dealing with is David Bakhtiari. Green Bay’s left tackle tore his ACL on December 31 and will miss at least the first six games of the season. The good news for the Packers is that one of the few bright spots on Sunday was his replacement, 2019 second-round pick Elgton Jenkins, was great. After earning a Pro Bowl spot at guard last year, he seems to have transitioned to tackle seamlessly, earning an 89.6 PFF grade.
Elsewhere, starting Darnell Savage suffered a shoulder injury against the Saints, but appears to have avoided a major injury.
“Hopefully, with an extra day, that will give us a chance to get him back for Monday night,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur said this week.
Biggest strength: Quarterback
Aaron Rodgers was the lowest graded player on the Packers offense in Week 1 (43.3 PFF grade). He had the lowest passer rating of any Week 1 quarterback (36.8) and the lowest QBR (13.4). Only Matt Ryan averaged a lower yards per pass attempt (4.8) and his 53.6 completion percentage was the lowest in the NFL.
Okay, I just wanted to say a bunch of bad things about Aaron Rodgers while I can. Because the truth is, he’s still by far their best player. I’m not going to read too much into one particularly awful game. This dude was the best player in the NFL last year, and that doesn’t just disappear because of a drama-filled offseason with some Jeopardy hosting.
Biggest weakness: Run defense
In the past, we’ve talked with some Packers analysts, and they’ve said the team purposely gives up yards on the ground to prevent big plays. I’m not sure I buy it, honestly. Last year, they gave up 4.5 yards per carry. The year before it was 4.7. This year, it’s at 4.4.
They do have defensive tackle Kenny Clark back this year, but it didn’t seem to make too much of a difference in Week 1.
Vegas line for Sunday: Packers by 11