10 Quick Things: GB vs. LA

After rewatching Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams, here are 10 things worth knowing:

 

OFFENSE

1) There’s only one quarterback in the NFL who could’ve beaten the Rams on Sunday, and fortunately, he plays for the Packers. Under heavy pressure all game, Aaron Rodgers still managed to put up big numbers (28 of 45 for 307 yards and two touchdowns) against a very good defense. That was due to his poise and accuracy. The reigning MVP stood tall in the pocket and kept completing passes to receivers who were covered like a blanket. Rodgers also did a nice job of taking what was there and not forcing the ball down the field. Nearly two-thirds of his throws were within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

2) The numbers weren’t overly impressive (20 carries for 69 yards), but A.J. Dillon was one of the best players on the field. As Aaron Jones (10 carries for 23 yards) kept finding out, there was nowhere to run against a stout Rams’ defensive line. The difference was that the 245-pound Dillon didn’t need blocking to pick up three or four yards. He just lowered his head and plowed forward. Nearly 80% of his yards came after contact. The former Boston College star also caught four passes, including a touchdown.

3) Equanimeous St. Brown played more than usual (26 snaps) due to Randall Cobb exiting the game at halftime with a groin injury, and the fourth-year wide receiver enjoyed one of the best all-around games of his career. His one catch came on third down to extend a drive in the fourth quarter, and he did good work as a run blocker and on special teams. It’s unusual to see someone so big (6-4, 220) being used as a gunner, but St. Brown was very effective. He also had a couple of tackles on kick coverage.

St. Brown (#19) uses his excellent speed and newfound physicality to stop returner Sony Michel in his tracks.

4) I’m sure the “experts” at Pro Football Focus weren’t impressed by the work of Jon Runyan Jr., Lucas Patrick, and Royce Newman, but the three interior offensive linemen fought like heck for 60 minutes against the best defensive player in the league (Aaron Donald), a former second-round pick (A’Shawn Robinson), and an emerging young nose tackle (Greg Gaines). It wasn’t always pretty to watch, but the trio of overachievers allowed Rodgers to be hit only twice, and they did just enough to give him the time needed to complete 62% of his passes.

5) Making just the fourth start of his career, Yosh Nijman never let himself be a liability despite lining up against future Hall of Famer Von Miller for much of the game. While the former undrafted free agent from Virginia Tech allowed a handful of pressures, he generally held his own. His technique keeps getting better. After the game, Rodgers told the media he almost forgot about that side of the line. That’s about the nicest thing any right-handed quarterback can say about a left tackle.


DEFENSE

1) Playing with one arm tied behind his back due to a hyperextended right elbow, Rashan Gary still managed a strip-sack and five pressures against a very good left tackle. It was a remarkable performance from a young outside linebacker who keeps getting better. Two years ago, a healthy Gary wouldn’t have stood a chance against a player the caliber of Andrew Whitworth, but thanks to a lot of hard work and some good coaching, he now knows how to take advantage of his unique skill set. Gary also held up surprisingly well in the run game.

2) La’Darius Hamilton and Tipa Galeai played 45 snaps, and while their combined numbers were modest (four tackles and one pressure), the two young outside linebackers got the job done. They allowed the defense to function while Gary and Preston Smith took an occasional breather. That’s more than the coaches could rightfully expect from a couple of players who weren’t even on the 53-man roster last month. Hamilton was especially effective. At 260 pounds, he used his solid base strength to anchor against the run.

Hamilton (#54) disengages from Whitworth’s attempted block and stops Darrell Henderson after a 3-yard gain.

3) Sunday was a perfect example of why Kenny Clark is one of the highest-paid nose tackles in the league. He dominated the interior of the Rams’ offensive line all game. While center Brian Allen and guards Austin Corbett and David Edwards are capable players, none of the three stood a chance against Clark’s unique mix of size, strength, and quickness. Even frequent double-teams failed to keep the former UCLA star from being a disruptive force against both the run and the pass.

4) Rasul Douglas started for an injured Kevin King and once again proved to be the better player. The former Eagle, Panther, Raider, Texan, and Cardinal had a huge pick-6 in the third quarter and broke up four passes. He did get beat for a 54-yard touchdown by Odell Beckham Jr., but that was the only blemish on an otherwise terrific day. While the coaches will have some tough decisions to make if and when All-Pro Jaire Alexander returns, playing Douglas over King shouldn’t be one of them.

5) Henry Black has averaged 20 snaps on defense the past three games, and yet the casual fan might not even know he plays for the Packers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The second-year safety from Baylor did nothing to call attention to himself on Sunday. He just did his job as either a slot corner or a box safety in the sub-packages. Black allowed three receptions, but none were longer than 11 yards. Missing a tackle in the open field was his only real mistake.


FINAL THOUGHTS: Sunday was yet another example of the Packers coming together as a team to win a game they had no business winning. Four starters were out on offense, and 15 different defensive players were on the field for at least 17 snaps, including three who weren’t on any 53-man roster when the season began. There’s obviously still much work to be done, but through 12 weeks, this is the most impressive Packers team in the past 40 years. Not the best, but the most impressive.

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POLL: Who has been the biggest surprise of the season through 12 games?

Michael Rodney

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.

8 thoughts on “10 Quick Things: GB vs. LA

  1. This team has the potential to be better than any in the league. Time to heal up and get ready for a run to the SB!

  2. This is how the offense should look as the weather gets colder. Run the ball with Dillon and throw quick passes. I’d like to see Jones used more as a receiver. The only time he’s really featured in the passing game is when wide receivers are out. LaFleur and Hackett need to figure things out in the red zone. There’s no Tonyan to rely on now. I was hoping Lazard would fill that role, but he hasn’t done much all season.

  3. I appreciate the analysis, Michael. No one else, from what I can see, is writing about ESB, or Black, or the interior OL guys.

    This team is hitting the perfect complement between the work of TT and Gutey. The latter is answering just about all the critics at this point. He’s hitting on early draft picks; FA pickups; trades; PS pickup; re-signing and letting the right guys go (Dougherty’s article was good on this today). Even some of his later round guys are contributing: MVS; Runyan; Garvin. Not perfect but Gutey looks like a GM of the Year candidate.

    Looks like the same NFCC game as last year. Can Joe Barry be the difference this year? I think he’s got a chance to do that.

  4. Great work as usual Michael. I’ve followed you for a long time. I love your work. You deserve to be on a national stage or at least a bigger one than what Twitter can offer.

    I think you always do an amazing job in detailing what is going on with our team. I’m 60 years old, been a fan of the team since 1974 and an owner since 2011 (I think that’s the right year). During this time I have read, heard and seen a great many things but never is the work better than yours. I thank you for it and I truly hope you expound on it even more.

    I’ve not given money this time because I have lost my job, health and family thanks to me having cancer. I just don’t have any extra money to spare given I’m unable to work and I am living on SSDI. Not a fun process but I wanted to share why I can’t help this time.

    I’ve tried helping in the past but this time I am just not able. Nevertheless, I wanted to thank you for giving me something to look forward to. I truly hope you keep it up.

    Take care and enjoy your weekend.

    1. Hey Dale. I know you’ve been a loyal follower for a very long time, and it’s greatly appreciated. Wishing you all the best. Hopefully, 2022 will be a great year for both you and the Packers.

  5. I’ll also say that I’m still standing by my prediction (made in a comment under Michael’s MN-GB preview) that GB would lose to MN and then win out. If they don’t lose to TB in the NFCC they’re not going to lose another game, period.

  6. Good point about Rodgers making the line look a lot better. I was bored and watched the game again. The Rams were getting pressure from all over. I’m not sure the offense would’ve scored a point with Love at quarterback, and that’s not a knock on Love. Rodgers might be acting a little kookie these days, but he’s an incredible player.

  7. Dillon is the real deal, and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe Jones isn’t a little overrated and overpaid. He was excellent in 2019 and 2020, but he was also running behind three Pro Bowl offensive linemen. He hasn’t been nearly as good this season.

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