The Green Bay Packers lost a third straight game, this one to the Washington Commanders by the score of 23-21. Even though the team had the lead for most of the contest, the offense struggled to maintain possessions and, frankly, was not good enough as a whole to win the game. This does not excuse the defense or special teams either. Indeed, all three phases of the game failed to play well enough to win. At 3-4, the Packers need to make some changes or be in serious danger of missing the playoffs. That being said, not everything in this game was bad. In fact, there are three things in particular that the Packers can use as a base on which to turn the season around.
#1. The Offensive Line Kept Aaron Rodgers Clean
David Bakhtiari did not play against the Commanders. Rookie offensive lineman Zach Tom was told when he got to the stadium that he would get his first NFL start. Tom was tasked with protecting Aaron Rodgers’ blindside, along with Elgton Jenkins who shifted from right tackle to left guard. Jon Runyan Jr. moved to right guard and Yosh Nijman started at right tackle. Only Josh Myers, the center, stayed at the same position he’s played all season long.
The results were better than anyone could have predicted.
#Packers revamped OL officially allowed 1 QB hit and 0 pressures against a terrific Commanders front.
If you told me that before the game I would have told you the Packers win by 10+
— Peter Bukowski (@Peter_Bukowski) October 24, 2022
The Washington Commanders have, arguably, the best front seven in the entire NFL. Keeping Rodgers upright against this defense was no small task. For weeks, Royce Newman allowed far too many pressures which resulted in many negative plays. He was finally benched and the results were immediately positive. Regardless of the health of Bakhtiari, the Packers can finally feel good about their starting offensive line.
#2. The Inside Linebackers
There were plenty of defensive letdowns in this game, but the Packers inside linebackers each played very well in this game. De’Vondre Campbell had an interception that he returned for a touchdown. He also had 12 tackles (three for loss) and a quarterback hit. After a slow start to the season, Campbell appears to be turning it around.
— Lily Zhao (@LilySZhao) October 23, 2022
Additionally, rookie linebacker Quay Walker had his best game as a professional. He led the team with 13 tackles, had a pass deflection, and two quarterback hits. While the run defense continued to be (one of many) weaknesses on this team, these two players had good individual performances.
#3. Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard
There is no question that the Green Bay Packers’ offense has been bad for weeks. One has to wonder, though, how long it will take Matt LaFleur and/or Aaron Rodgers to realize that they need to be feeding both Aaron Jones and Allen Lazard. Just take a look at their stats in the Packers’ last three losses:
Now, while it may appear that Lazard is not hauling in as many targets, it should be noted that a great many of the incompletions are not his fault. He had one drop in the loss against the Commanders, but otherwise had dropped just one other pass all season.
A look at Jones’ numbers indicate that he is a very reliable pass catcher. Yet, for some reason, the Packers have not been utilizing him as much as they should. In the loss to Washington, Jones had nine receptions on 10 targets. Before that, he averaged just 2.5 receptions on 3.5 targets per game in the Packers’ last two losses. It should not be any wonder that Jones was the recipient of both Rodgers’ touchdown passes in Week Seven. They need to be feeding him the ball.
So, what is the point of these numbers? The formula is there for success. The offensive line is finally stable and the defense ranks in the top five in the NFL. Lazard and Jones are legitimate playmakers. There are some legitimate problems with this team right now, and they seem to be internal. If/when they figure it out, the Packers will be a force to be reckoned with.
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