“How can you not be romantic about this game?”
Sometimes I forget just how blessed we are as Packer fans to have someone like Aaron Rodgers. He not only slings the pigskin better than anyone on Earth but has fun while doing it.
The Packers ended up winning a hard-fought game versus the San Francisco 49ers, beating them 30-28. They finally seem to have avenged the 2019 season where they lost in Santa Clara twice in embarrassing fashion. After re-watching the game, I had an overwhelming amount of takeaways (mainly positive), but have condensed them to the Packers Pros and Cons vs the 49ers.
Pro: Matt LeFleur the Play Caller
Sometimes, Football is really easy.
In the Detriot game in week 2, it seemed like LeFleur remember the Packers signed Aaron Jones to a 4 year $48 Million deal. This week only reinforced the fact that this offense at its peak runs through Jones. He has 21 touches for 96 and a touchdown, but the way he did it just seemed so easy. Like Giannis dropping 30 points like it’s nothing.
But this game really showed what an experienced LeFleur offense could become with the Packers. With motion become more useful, that was especially the case in the red zone. The first touchdown to Davante should be hung up at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Davante comes in motion, pulling his matchup #38 Lenoir towards the middle of the field, then as the ball is snapped he sprints back to where he lined up initially where there is nothing but open grass.
I still can't get over this play design on the first touchdown last night. Adams pulls #38 away from the left side and burns him for an easy score.
Props LeFleur pic.twitter.com/7f9DsHQq6A
— Logan Winser (@logan_winser) September 27, 2021
Motion with a purpose is what can separate this Packers offense into a top 5 in the league. I’m hoping the third-round rookie Amari Rodgers will be utilized more throughout the season in this area. But speaking of Amari…
Con: Packers Special Teams and poor field position
No, I’m not including the Grey Fox in this (I’ll mention him in a minute). I’m referring not only to the blown kick-off coverage before halftime, but our awful punt returns the last two weeks by Amari Rodgers and the punt team.
Whenever the Packers defense forces a punt, it feels like the football gods have blessed us. So getting optimal field position after a stop would be… ideal.
Between the Lions and 49ers game, the Packers have forced 6 punts. Not a single one was returned past the 20-yard line. Diving deeper, only two were actually returned, for a run of 2 and 6 yards. A major con to a great team so far.
I understand the Packers like to put rookie receivers out there on returns to get them playing time. But Amari just seems lost back there each time he gets the ball. He’s either too passive and fair catches it before an opponent is within 15 yards of him, or he tries to do too much and runs 30 yards sideways for a gain of two.
Trenton Cannon was flying down the field on this return pic.twitter.com/k9oB9yCxis
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) September 27, 2021
I haven’t even mentioned before half time allowing a 68-yard return by Trenton Cannon, which gave the 49ers an easy chance to get back into the game. I understand if this seems like a nitpick, but against teams later in the year like Kansas City and Los Angeles, field position could decide the game.
Pro: Hall of Famer Mason Crosby
Okay maybe not Canton Hall of Fame, but at the very minimum Packer Hall of Fame.
I’ve only started to realize how blessed we are to have Mason Crosby in our lives. Since 2007, how many Packers have kicked the ball through the uprights?
Not only did Mason Crosby prove once again he’s one of the clutches kickers in history, but the man is an iron man at the position. He has not missed a single game in his entire career. If we give Favre credit for playing 292 straight games, we have to do the same for Crosby right?
Maybe not being healthy is what we should be praising him for, but what about consistency. Kicker is the most expendable position in the league. You have one bad game, and the next week you’re back coaching soccer at the Y.
Crosby his entire career has only had one moment where the Packers even considered bringing a new man (the awful Detroit Lions game in 2018). If it weren’t for that game, I think It would be common for us to think of Mason up there with the Tuckers, Vinatieri’s, and Butker’s of the league. He certainly has the resume.
But yeah, kicking 51 yards out on Sunday Night Football from the left hash and drilling it is amazing, and we shouldn’t take that for granted.
There will never be a time when this song isn't perfect…
Mason Crosby, you are a living legendpic.twitter.com/WpdHqs3Lu7
— Eli Berkovits (@BookOfEli_NFL) September 27, 2021
Con: Zero Middle of the Field Defense by the Packers
This is a legitimate question I’m sure someone has the answer to. If you do, leave it in the comments.
Who’s in charge of guarding the center of the field routes 5-10 yards out? Krys Barnes was knocked out early, but it seems like we don’t have a decent coverage linebacker this year.
On the fourth drive vs the 49ers, they realized they could just do curl routes right in front of the first down marker and no one would be there. That’s all the Saints did in Week 1.
I love De’Vondre Campbell. However, it seems like most of his tackles this year are very Blake Martinez-like, where they are down the field tackles after a gain of 7-8 yards. He made a couple of good plays today, but if the middle of the field is his responsibility, I’d rather see batted balls than 8-yard tackles for first downs (he also missed an interception in the first quarter he totally should’ve had!!)
Pro: Adam Stenavich and the entire Packer Offensive Line
Stenavich, Packers O-Line Coach, is going to be a name you hear more and more in head coaching talks. The Packers went into this game without their two-star lineman in David Baktiari and Elgton Jenkins.
So on Prime-Time Football, Aaron Rodgers was protected by Yosh Nijman, Jon Runyan, Josh Myers, Royce Newman, and Billy Turner. Three of those guys hadn’t had a snap before week 1. They were matched against the 49ers defense who in 2019 was 5th in the league in sacks and had Nijman making his first career start vs All-Pro Nick Bosa.
They allowed one sack, and Bosa didn’t touch Rodgers once.
Rodgers was trying to get the ball out as quickly as possible to start the game. Former Packer Mark Tauscher mentioned they were going empty set to help the rag-tag O-Line.
Pretty smart plan so far by LaFleur. Instead of going max protect you spread it out go empty and let your MVP QB read the D quickly get it out of his hand #GBvsSF
— Mark Tauscher (@MarkTauscher65) September 27, 2021
However, as the game went along, Rodgers tended to trust the line more and more. On that failed fourth-down where the play broke down, Aaron actually had a pocket. He just panicked and scrambled to his left ruining the play.
Even on the deep ball to MVS early in the game, the line was already figuring it out and holding it together to give Rodgers the room to find his open receiver.
Tae draws play-side safety and corner, MVS slips behind them after crossing the safety's face.
Tartt's a good player, but he can't run with MVS. pic.twitter.com/8Pz6KahkJm
— Ross Uglem (@RossUglem) September 27, 2021
And on the game-winning 37-second drive, Rodgers had all the time in the world to find Adams on each of his two catches vs the 49ers.
Obviously, the Packers are better with Baktiari and Jenkins active. But it’s nice to know that they have depth in case any other injuries pop up throughout the season.
Con: Packer Fans (myself included)
This offseason was rough. Probably the roughest since 2008 when Favre “retired” then came back. With Green Bay in the spotlight with Rodgers Watch, expectations were set for the Last Dance year.
So when the Packers got KO’d vs the Saints Week 1, Packer fans (including myself) had already given up not only on the season but Aaron Rodgers. Saying dumb things like he doesn’t care or he was throwing the game. I even have Jordan Love as my iPhone wallpaper.
If you haven’t already, check out Rodgers’ reaction from the sideline to the Crosby field goal. It’s honestly beautiful and shows what true passion is. And I feel like an idiot for thinking so negatively about this team after week 1.
Aaron Rodgers’ reaction to Mason Crosby hitting the game winner is everything and more to me. pic.twitter.com/JBEcEqhEmM
— 𝐽𝐸𝑁 𝑀𝐴𝐶𝐾 🧀 (@BigMack_4) September 27, 2021
If that loss happened during the middle of the season, we probably would’ve seen it as a fluke game (similar to the Chargers loss in 2019).
The Packers are not only a good football team, this is a fun football team. And they don’t have to win the Superbowl in order for me to enjoy them this year. But if they were ever to do it, it would be with these guys.