10 Quick Things: GB vs. NO

After rewatching Sunday’s game against the New Orleans Saints, here are 10 things worth knowing:

 

OFFENSE

1) Elgton Jenkins was terrific in his first start at left tackle. He moved defenders in the run game and was nearly flawless in protection. Marcus Davenport is a very talented young pass rusher, and he couldn’t figure out a way to beat Jenkins. If this continues for another six weeks, the Packers will have to seriously consider moving their Pro Bowl guard to right tackle next season. Heck, they’ll be paying him like a tackle soon enough.

2) Rookie right guard Royce Newman had a rough debut as he learned the hard way the difference between pro football in August and pro football in September. The fourth-round pick from Ole Miss really struggled with the quickness and strength of the Saints’ defensive tackles and inside linebackers. He didn’t do much in the run game and gave up 3 pressures. If he doesn’t play better in the coming weeks, the coaches will have to consider other options.

The Saints moved Cameron Jordan (#94) over Newman on this key play in the third quarter. The rookie was no match for the Pro Bowl defensive end.

3) Josh Myers was the only interior offensive lineman to put forth a winning effort. The rookie center wasn’t perfect, but he made some nice blocks in the run game and generally held up well in protection. He’ll face much stiffer competition than defensive tackles Christian Ringo, Shy Tuttle, and Albert Huggins in the weeks to come, but this was still a very promising debut. At no point did the game seem too big for the 23-year-old from Ohio State.

4) Nearly half of Robert Tonyan’s 52 catches last season came off bootlegs. The well-prepared Saints’ defense took that play away and rendered the fourth-year tight end a non-factor (2 receptions for 8 yards). Aside from drawing one pass interference call in the third quarter, Tonyan was unable to do much of anything against 33-year-old free safety Malcolm Jenkins and a trio of athletic inside linebackers. His run blocking also wasn’t very good.

5) With most of the offensive linemen struggling to get much movement, A.J. Dillon pretty much served as his own blocker on four runs that gained 19 yards. Because of his powerful lower body, it’s almost impossible to keep the 250-pound former Boston College star from picking up four yards. Pro Bowler Aaron Jones is obviously the No. 1 running back, but there will be days when Dillon should get the bulk of the snaps. Sunday was one of those days.


DEFENSE

1) Despite all the offseason hype from the  coaches and the cheerleaders in the local media, De’Vondre Campbell played like an inside linebacker that two other teams had no interest in keeping around. While the former Gopher used his speed to make a few nice plays early in the game, he was slow to react a number of times and seemed to get caught out of position at least twice. The Packers need him to be a lot better than Christian Kirksey; he wasn’t on Sunday.

2) Campbell wasn’t very good, but he was Ray Lewis compared to Krys Barnes. The second-year inside linebacker from UCLA was slow to diagnose plays and to get off blocks. Barnes wasn’t helped by the below average work of the guys up front (namely defensive ends Kingsley Keke and Dean Lowry), but he still needs to be better. To his credit, he wasn’t a liability in the passing game. He stayed close to his man and kept yards after the catch to a minimum.

3) It’s been six months, and it’s still hard to explain the decision to re-sign Kevin King. If anybody needed a fresh start, it was the veteran corner. He allowed 2 completions for 72 yards, including a 55-yard TD to Deonte Harris. Safety Henry Black should’ve offered deep help, but that doesn’t absolve King of responsibility. And that $5M deal didn’t make his hips more fluid – something that was painfully obvious on Harris’ 17-yard reception in the first half.

4) As poorly as the defense played all afternoon, things would’ve been even worse if not for Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. The starting outside linebackers did solid work in 75 combined snaps. Smith was strong versus the run, and Gary, who gave maximum effort on a very hot day, was one of the few pass rushers to get near Jameis Winston (5 pressures). It was nice to see them step up with Za’Darius Smith limited to part-time duty due to a back injury.

This looked like the Preston Smith (#91) from two years ago. He disengaged from one blocker and split two others to stop Alvin Kamara in his tracks.

5) Forced to play increased snaps due to Smith’s injury and the hot weather, fourth and fifth outside linebackers Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers provided next to nothing in a combined 38 snaps. They rushed 12 times, and the only positive was their adherence to social distancing rules when it came to the QB. General manager Brian Gutekunst had all summer to improve the depth at this position, but he chose to do nothing for some reason.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Pretty much everything I (and many others) questioned in the offseason was a problem on Sunday. Aaron Rodgers looked like an almost 38-year-old quarterback who spent the spring doing everything except working at his craft. Barry was exactly the defensive coordinator everybody feared he’d be when coach Matt LaFleur announced his hiring in February. King picked up right where he left off nine months ago. And a front seven that added only a fifth-round nose tackle and a journeyman inside linebacker still wasn’t good enough.

Looking for a positive spin? This was only one game and the world champion Bucs looked every bit as bad against the Saints last November as the Packers looked on Sunday. With San Francisco and Pittsburgh on the schedule in the next three weeks, we’ll learn pretty quickly whether this was just “one of those days” or a harbinger of things to come.

photo courtesy of packers.com

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POLL: On a scale of 1 to 10, how concerned are you after Sunday's loss?

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2 COMMENTS

  1. My biggest concern is coaching. Pretty obvious the coaching staff took the Saints as lightly as the players did. MLF ran McCarthy’s empty backfield spread offense where he expects 4.6 WR’s to beat 4.4 CB’s. Maybe someone should remind him that McCarthy ultimately got canned for running that offense. Get back to play action, Jet sweeps, pre-snap motion, rub routes, running the damn ball, etc. our WR’s can’t get open otherwise.

    What’s really concerning is MLF completely abandoned his offense against Tampa in the playoffs and then comes out first game of the season and does it again. Bet anything they said “no Brees, no Michael Thomas, no Taquan Smith, we got this, put nothing on tape for next week.” Any given Sunday, remember MLF ?

    Pettine looks like Buddy Ryan compared to Barry. I saw it in the preseason and my worst fears are so far confirmed. The Saints had one weapon, Kamara. One. Winston has played 2 preseason games in the last 2 years. A high school DC would know to come out and rattle a turnover prone, rusty QB. Barry lets him sit in the pocket for hours untouched. Compounds it by playing his CB’s ten yards off and they still can’t cover anyone. Packer D players spent more time pointing fingers and yelling at each other pre-snap than they did in actual coverage.

    I thought he was some kind of master motivator ? Any DC that allows his team to constantly play on it’s heels against a depleted offense has no business in this position. Granted the Pack front 7 isn’t the Bucs but that scheme makes them look even worse. One can only hope that Barry didn’t want to put anything on tape either. Abysmal that there isn’t one defensive player on this team that can hit hard enough to dent a couch.

    Rodgers sucked but he’ll fix it. I have some confidence that MLF will go back to his normal offense. However, inevitably, down the road, he’ll abandon his game plan again and get crushed. Possibly the 49ers game.

    Barry I have zero confidence in unless MLF starts demanding he designs an aggressive scheme and the defensive players quit playing like they’re afraid they’ll get hurt if they get in the mix.

    Oh and all those lamenting that Rodgers wasn’t traded for a couple picks so Love can get on the field. Once they shove Rodgers out the door, you’ll see a lot more blowouts like this when he’s gone so you got a little taste of the future without him. Games like this for Rodgers are a rarity, they’ll be common place under Love.

    How’s New England been doing since Tom Brady left ? Our future.

  2. This was the fourth time under LaFleur that the Packers failed to compete in a game, but this bothered more more than the games against the 49ers, Chargers, and Bucs. You can blame injuries or fatigue for an awful performance during the season, but the Packers were healthy, rested, and had months to get ready for the Saints. I can’t remember too many supposedly good teams laying such an egg in week 1.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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