Snap Judgments: Week 17

After rethinking about Sunday’s game against the Vikings, here are three things worth discussing:

1) Wide receiver Christian Watson has garnered all the attention, but a compelling argument can be made that Zach Tom is the 2022 Packers’ Rookie of the Year. What the fourth-round pick from Wake Forest has done this season is pretty darn special. On Sunday, he replaced Yosh Nijman (shoulder) at right tackle late in the first quarter and played extremely well. He helped open holes for a run game that averaged nearly five yards per carry and allowed only one hurry in protection. Tom has now taken 453 snaps at four different positions along the O-line. What’s even more amazing is he’s doing this despite resembling a pumped-up fullback or tight end more than a tackle or guard. It’s exciting to think how good he’ll be after an offseason spent in the weight room and not preparing to run 40-yard dashes. In the meantime, give general manager Brian Gutekunst a lot of credit. He found a unicorn in Elgton Jenkins in 2019 and did it again only three years later.

2) The slippery field helped. A smarter scheme employed by Joe Barry helped. Injuries to a couple of starting offensive linemen helped. Huge games from stars Kenny Clark and Jaire Alexander helped. But what helped the Packers’ defense more than anything against the Vikings was simply playing with emotion. After sleepwalking through the better part of the season, the talented and highly-paid underachievers on that side of the ball finally woke up in a must-win contest. Suddenly, multiple defenders were flying to the ball, delivering hard hits, and celebrating with one another afterward. Passion was on display for three hours inside Lambeau Field, and that was as important as any strategy devised during the week. Jim Bates was a successful defensive coordinator for over a decade in the NFL, including one year in Green Bay, and he ran a scheme that was more vanilla than what most teams show in the preseason. It worked because the stars shined, and everybody else played as if their careers depended on each snap. That’s exactly what happened on Sunday.

3) Over the past month, the Packers have slowly morphed into a poor man’s version of the 1998 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. That team won the Lombardi Trophy behind a strong and opportunistic defense, an effective running game, and a declining future Hall of Fame quarterback in his late 30s who protected the ball and made just enough big plays to win. While Aaron Rodgers is performing at a higher level today than John Elway did 24 years ago, he’s not the reason the Packers have climbed out of a 4-8 hole and find themselves one victory over Detroit away from clinching a postseason berth. During the team’s current four-game winning streak, Rodgers has completed 64% of his passes for 808 yards and four touchdowns. Those are pedestrian numbers, but the 39-year-old has thrown only two picks, and he’s been willing to take a back seat to running backs Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, who have combined for 458 yards and six scores. It took 12 frustrating weeks, but the Packers are finally following a winning blueprint. It’s better late than never.


[yop_poll id=” 80″]

Avatar photo

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.

7 thoughts on “Snap Judgments: Week 17

  1. A couple days ago on Mike Wahle/Ahman Green’s podcast, Wahle noted how Cousins stands in the pocket, often oblivious to the pressure. He stated, while keeping your eyes focused downfield during pressure is commendable it can also lead to sacks and turnovers. A prime example of this yesterday was Kenny Clark’s strip and fumble recovery. Looked like Cousins had no idea he was there.

    Ahman Green said Dillon needs to DELIVER the hits on contact and not BRACE for it. One of the reasons a guy 250 pds goes down easier than he should sometimes.

    It only took Joe Barry 16 games to figure out that Jaire is a better cover corner than a zone corner. What he did to Jefferson yesterday is remarkable. Not only Jefferson but Thielen got shut down and Cousins was forced to go to Hockenson.

    Pete Dougherty said last night that Nijman’s shoulder was good enough to go back in but Tom was playing well so they decided to rest him. Should be at full strength on the OL next week. Zach Tom will be an all-pro one day. What a find.

    When the Packers abandon play action they struggle. I’d like to see more play action in the red zone inside the 10. Would open things up for the WR’s. Just can’t fathom bringing in Dillon, placing Rodgers in shotgun and handing off. I’d take Aaron Jones in the red zone over Dillon every day of the week and twice on Sunday’s.

    If Barry continues to let the secondary play tighter this team has a chance. If he abandons it for soft zone, we’re done.

    Even without the KO and Pick 6, we still win this game.

    After the blocked punt, that defensive stand by Green Bay was terrific, they came to play. Regarding the blocked punt, it’s inexcusable for an NFL team to have multiple blocked punts/FG’s in a season. Teams can go years without one.

    Gutekunst’s drafts have been less than stellar and downright incomprehensible but he may get six starters out of 2022’s draft. Walker, Wyatt, Watson, Doubs, Tom and Enagbare.

  2. i have been waiting for this defense since the last Packer super bowl victory. i loved it. that was a fun game to watch, especially given the opponent. thank you Packers!

    quick comments:

    1. he didn’t officially get the pick 6; however, watch Rasul Douglas on Savage’s pick-6.. Savage and ‘sul should both get credit on that play.. ‘sul pushed the ball right to Savage then led the convoy of blockers: outstanding! and watch ‘sul v. Hockenson and Thielen throughout the game. ‘sul played out of his mind. Jaire v. Jefferson: yes.. however, ‘sul also had his best game of the year.
    2. i wasn’t 100% on the game’s outcome until the Kenny Clark strip and recover: he went super-hero on that play. Kirk Cousins just didn’t matter.
    3. Lazard: all he does is catch balls for key 1st downs.
    4. Keisean Nixon return started all of the fun.

  3. Sunday was a great game, but it was just one game. Put a beating on the Lions and I’ll feel a lot better about most likely having to go to San Francisco for the wild card game.

  4. Last night was the defense we were hoping to see all season. Totally agree with the passion that they finally showed. It’s been incredibly rare to see a Packer defense just beat down an opponent over the last two decades.

    Nice shout out to Jim Bates, the last great Packer D Coordinator. Too bad we only had him for a season.

  5. Tom sure looks small which might have been why he was under drafted , great find for us in any event. Hopefully an off season in the weight room his run blocking will catch up with his excellent pass pro.
    Great to finally see a dominate aggressive defense … all starts with controlling the line of scrimmage which we rarely have been able to do. I still have some doubts that we’ll be stout enough when we take on the better offense lines in the league.
    The deep ball to Watson will be a work in progress until he gets enough experience, it just might be my amateur eyes but he seems to slow up when he looks back to locate the throw and speeds up afterwards much to late. I like him better for now using his speed 20 yards down the field going across it or to the sidelines at this point. Much better receiver with his face turned to the qb in my opinion at this point.

  6. Maybe the unsung play of the game: #6 Dallin Leavitt got run over on the punt block but managed to get up and beat four vikings to the ball probably preventing one of them for scoring. This set up the goal line stand which in my opinion set the stage for the whole game.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *