Game Recap: Saints Crush Packers 38-3 in Season Opener

Sarah Kelliher recaps the Packers’ season opener against the Saints.

In a season where expectations are seemingly higher than ever, the Green Bay Packers (0-1, 0-0 NFC North) opened up the 2021 season with a horrific 3-38 loss to the New Orleans Saints (1-0, 0-0 NFC South) at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

It was the largest loss ever in a game started by quarterback Aaron Rodgers and it was ugly from the start.  

The Saints were the first to get a crack at things on Sunday and, right away, it was clear the Packers’ defense was going to struggle. Quarterback Jameis Winston led New Orleans down the field with ease, even taking opportunities to run for first downs himself and escaping with little contact. However, just as the Saints were inching closer to the red zone, the Packers’ trusty cornerback Jaire Alexander came up huge with some great coverage on wide receiver Marquez Callaway to force an incompletion and make the Saints settle for a field goal. New Orleans’ 44-yard kick attempt was good, and they took a 3-0 lead.

Coming off a year where they seemed virtually unstoppable at times, the Packers’ offense couldn’t find anything in week one of the 2021 NFL season and their first drive was no exception. After failing to convert on third down, Green Bay made a very questionable decision to go for it on 4th and 1 at their own 34. Luckily for them, Rodgers connected with wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling for 3 yards and the first down. The bad news? The Packers would only get one yard the next three plays and then had to punt.

From there, it got ugly, and it got ugly quick. The Saints went on a monstrous drive that lasted 7:51 and consisted of 15 plays for 76 yards. Star running back Alvin Kamara led the way for the Saints, just exposing the Packers’ run defense, who appeared to make little to no improvements from last season. As the first quarter ticked away, New Orleans’ dominance trickled into the second as Kamara caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from Winston to extend their lead to 10-0.

On their next drive, the Packers still couldn’t find any momentum on offense and were forced to punt and give the ball back to the Saints. As a result, New Orleans responded with an even longer and more dominant drive that lasted 10 minutes and consisted of 15 plays for 80 yards. Green Bay’s defense continued to struggle in the trenches and things started to go from bad to worse. On this drive, the Saints went for it on 4th and 7 and converted and again on 4th and goal before punching in another score and running away with a 17-0 lead.

With just minutes remaining in the half, Green Bay had one final opportunity to make it work, and, for a brief moment in time, it appeared that they just might do it. Rodgers connected with wide receiver Allen Lazard for a first down. Then, the Saints drew a big penalty to gift the Packers a first down. From there, Rodgers connected with wide receiver Davante Adams for their one magic moment of the game for a 31-yard gain. However, Rodgers couldn’t connect with anyone in the endzone, and it was up to kicker Mason Crosby to finally get Green Bay on the scoreboard in this one. His 39-yard attempt was good, and the Packers were down 3-17 at the half. Little did we know, they wouldn’t score again the rest of the game.

At the start of the second half, things were certainly in reach for the Packers. They had an opportunity to score right off the bat and cut this to a one-possession game. However, what unfolded was the absolute worst-case scenario for Green Bay. After finally getting some rhythm on offense as a result of first down pickups from MVS, tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan, as well as some extra support from a defensive pass interference play, the Packers were in the red zone for the first time all day. However, any hope the team had was quickly crushed after Rodgers threw an interception at the 9-yard line and the Saints returned it 33 yards.

Luckily, the Saints weren’t able to come up with much of anything and were forced to punt. However, Green Bay responded with another uncharacteristic turnover after Rodgers attempted a deep pass over the middle to MVS on 3rd and 8 and was intercepted on back-to-back drives. This time, the Saints returned it for 53 yards and left no crumbs for the Packers. Just three plays later, Winston connected with wide receiver Chris Hogan for 10-yard touchdown to take the 24-3 lead.

Green Bay continued to look incredibly out of it on their next drive too. After failing to convert on third down at their own 22, they made the questionable decision to go for it on 4th and 1 and Rodgers threw and incomplete pass and turned it over on downs.

Already in the red zone, New Orleans scored just one minute later after Winston connected with tight end Juwan Johnson on an 8-yard pass play to extend their lead even further to 31-3.

After beating themselves with even more penalties, the Packers were forced to punt again on Sunday. At this point, they had failed to even convert just one time on third down.

And, to put the cherry on top of this glorious defeat for Green Bay, cornerback Kevin King got absolutely burnt on a route and Winston connected with wide receiver Deonte Harris for a 55-yard touchdown and our eventual final score of 38-3.

With 10:46 left in the game, quarterback Jordan Love came in for the Packers to close this one out. Although he didn’t do much, he at least helped the Packers convert on third down for the first time all day.

To close the game, Love had a nice drive, with a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Randall Cobb as the highlight. However, that tiny bit of promise was short lived after he fell victim to a strip sack and the Saints recovered the fumble to officially seal the win and prevent the Packers from scoring a single touchdown.

 

What we learned: This team has a lot of soul searching to do.

It’s plain and simple: this loss was beyond embarrassing for the Packers.

After a drama-filled offseason where Aaron Rodgers basically left the Packers in limbo THAT is how he showed up? With a 36.8 passer rating (ESPN stats)?

After a fantastic year of creative and innovative playing calling THOSE were the plays Matt LaFleur thought he should call? The Packers just stopped running the ball after the first half.

After firing their defensive coordinator and bringing in a new and more “energized” coach THAT was the performance the defense put on? Winston was 14/20 for 148 yards and 5 touchdowns (ESPN stats).

Just a week ago, Davante Adams said this was the hungriest team he’s ever been part of it but on Sunday they looked downright sluggish. I’m not sure what the answer is for Green Bay right now, but I hope they remember this feeling and use it as fuel to never feel this way again. They need to do some serious soul searching and think about the opportunity they have at stake here. If this is truly “The Last Dance” it was off to a clumsy start.

What went right: Literally nothing.

What went wrong: Literally everything.

Offensive MVP: Literally no one.

Defensive MVP: Literally no one.

 

Up next, the Green Bay Packers host the Detroit Lions for Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field. Kickoff is set for Monday, September 20 at 8:15 p.m. EST.

 

 

Sarah Kelliher is a contributor for CheeseheadTV and a podcaster with Pack-A-Day Podcast. She can be found via Twitter @sarahkelliher4

 

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Comments (56)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Alberta_Packer's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:21 pm

The re-cap could not have been a life-affirming exercise today. Yet, to continue:

*I predict that Rodgers will not win the MVP this season.
*Why are the Packers always 'cold' in hot weather?
*Lancaster + Lowry = high QB ratings (opposing).
*How to avoid injuries (Josiah) – don't lead block with your head.
*Kevin King's big play – getting beat on the long TD (now a game tradition).

*OMG - special teams were the best of all 3 units! I would add on “what went right” - the new punter (Bojorquez) – who was flawless.
*We may see more of Love this year - than originally planned.

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Cwilly's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:24 pm

Yeah and with Love will prove exactly the dumpster fire this team is but will always be a fan of this team. But he’ll be running for his life and if he can’t play defense don’t expect much more then what we saw today in the box score.

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Thegravedigger's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:53 pm

im so sick of lowry being a blocking bag. they should literally give him a blocking bag when he is out there. they want to run with three defensive lineman. thats what joe barry wants to do. the problem is one of them is dean lowry. better off running with barnes and campbell trying to blitz and shake things up then just having lowry the bag out there.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:06 pm

It's a mystery why he was retained - especially at around 7m/yr. I don't think he made one play at or near the line of scrimmage. What I do remember is him jumping offside - on a goal line stance, and, Kamara destroying him on a block which led to a Saints TD. In other words, Lowry was already in regular season form.

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Thegravedigger's picture

September 12, 2021 at 10:17 pm

there was one play where he could of had kamara but he just turned to dance with the OL. its possible he was being held but he just is too small for what they need him to do. hes built like a blocking tight end, he is not a 34 defensive lineman, and they keep doubling down on him like he is.

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wildpalms's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:23 pm

Sarah said it all!

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:36 pm

After this loss, there are many things to fix. But here is the first thing. Release Kevin King. He allowed the same exact long touchdown pass as in the conference championship. He was off the receiver 8-10 yards and never got within 5 yards of the receiver. No excuse for that. If he can't fix his issues, then I don't want him around. And it will be a real eye opener for every player on the Packers.

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Thegravedigger's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:55 pm

same exact pass. earlier in the game he played way off of deonte harris and gave a deep out route because he was in a continuous backpedal. then he let harris do the same shit as scotty miller did to him. just garbage. deonte harris is a not even a real wr, hes a special teams guy. hes a punt returner. thats it. and he smoked king with no problem. king did nothing against the run or the short pass. time for erik stokes.

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4thand10's picture

September 12, 2021 at 11:29 pm

Stokes looked like he could replace king already. I wanted king gone last yr or the yr before also

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NickPerry's picture

September 13, 2021 at 05:50 am

WHO in the hell is downvoting this comment and each response to to it?

Must be Kevin King's Mom and Dad because that dude just plain ole SUCKS! I have stuck up for Gute at every turn but that one I can't, haven't, and won't get behind.

Gute, you need to right this wrong...CUT Kevin King and play YOUR number one pick!

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Bure9620's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:46 pm

I guess I am willing to throw out the film on this one. But man, just embarrassing. Lots of Packer fans there, we outnumbered them. Rodgers looks disinterested....It was really hard to watch..on a Brighter note I was able to meet John Kuhn and Shemar Jean Charles

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CheesyTex's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:47 pm

"Rodgers looks disinterested..." It looked to me like his latest ploy is "Trade me before the 2021 deadline or this is what you'll see".

Agree with you, just painful to watch.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

September 13, 2021 at 08:46 am

Had the team shown-up like you and the other fans - the result might have been very different. Now, was Rodgers disinterested or did his hair cover his eyes?

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Thegravedigger's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:57 pm

he just got his ass kicked and thats how he looks when he gets his ass kicked. he refuses to let people see that he cares, so he just brushes shit off. at least i hope thats what it was. i just think rodgers and the rest thought they would walk in and kill the saints and go home. didnt quite work out like that.

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NickPerry's picture

September 13, 2021 at 05:55 am

Bure9620 normally I agree with most of what you say. BUT, these players need to sit and watch EVERY single play from that game and ask each other what the hell was that.

After that the coaches need to watch it and ask what the hell are you trying to do here?

Finally Gute and the rest of the front office need to watch it and ask WHY Lowry, King, and a shitload of others are on this team being paid millions of dollars???

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nostradanus's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:48 pm

Should’ve taken the boat load of draft picks for Rodgers this year! His value is plummeting faster the the 2008 stock market
ND

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:02 pm

I agree

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Buckywunder's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:03 pm

Yep. My feelings exactly after June 1 came and went…

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PatrickGB's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:51 pm

The team has been reading too many of glowing fan posts. Tried to mail I in. Let’s see how they respond.

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Lphill's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:50 pm

Jerry Gray should have been made the defensive coordinator.

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:57 pm

I’ve never seen a morose pathetic offensive or defended team in my life

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:58 pm

Morose being a Greek word for pathetecticness

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 08:59 pm

And hideous offensive showing

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:03 pm

Never seen a defense so bad

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Leatherhead's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:11 pm

We score 3 points and bitch about the defense. Classic.

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:05 pm

Aaron u can’t be drunk enough to defend that defense

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packergal's picture

September 13, 2021 at 08:53 am

Albert999,

Any chance you viewed the close up of AROD face and bloodshot eyes? Perhaps too much Scotch the night before DID exactly what you said in your post.

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:06 pm

The whole team was a joke

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:07 pm

Defend that Aaron

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albert999's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:08 pm

If u want to be real

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stockholder's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:16 pm

Rodgers can't block. Rodgers can't tackle. And MLF should get a reprimand. Moving guys around doesn't make them better. What needs to happen. Jenkins and Turner must play Guard. You won't have a Offense until you do. Because Myers needs help. The best place for Newman is at RT. Or the Bench. ( That way a TE can help). LT- I'd trust Turner there. and Patrick back at RG. (Until Bahk comes back.) Sorry but you don't move All-pros.( When you have new faces next to you.) Next- maybe we need to look at the architect. After 10 years, this Defense still couldn't make a stop on 4th down. Can't blame the rookies!

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jhtobias's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:22 pm

I'm sure Joe Barry is not a good d-coordinator but the insanity lies with gutey .. I don't care if you brought in buddy ryan when Lancaster and Lowry are playing the majority of your defensive line snaps what do you expect ? Insanity is expected different results with the same personnel ..

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:23 pm

"Pride comes before the fall."

Hopefully this is a humbling experience for some folks at 1265 and they can go back to Packer Football because they won't even beat the Lions with that duffle bag of shit they brought today.

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Swisch's picture

September 12, 2021 at 09:51 pm

A sincere concern of mine: Every time the Packers offense has a decision about whether or not to go for it on fourth down, our head coach is going to wonder if our quarterback will be upset if his wishes aren't granted.
Moreover, has Aaron Rodgers created a situation in which all big decisions during a game have to get his approval?
Then there's the continuing question from last year as to whether or not Rodgers is truly following the game plan from Matt LaFleur, or changing things considerably on the field.
After all, Rodgers is the MVP, and it's an insult to him to not at least listen with quiet admiration to his venerable wisdom, right?
As always, I could be wrong about such things -- but I'm wondering if MVP may also denote Most Volatile Personality.
So much of this season depends on the kind of person Rodgers decides to be for the Packers. I'm rooting for him to be humble and coachable and focused and determined in doing his job of QB as well as possible.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 04:23 am

Swisch, my first reaction was: What's the heck! Trade him now! If he will lay out another egg you'll get nothing for him. Love looked much better than Aaron Rodgers did against the same opponent and in the "meaningful" game. Love made more yards in one series than Rodgers in the whole game.

I know that this was me upset, but after calming down I do not see this team as favorite to go to post season. I'm, maybe, overreacting, but AR was looking the whole game like a deer at the light in the night.

This is what I have from the game:
2nd Q
7:29 left - pass well behind the Tonyan
0:46 left - pass overthrown to Lazard
0:18 left - pass overthrown to Lazard
0:04 left - pass behind Tonyan
3rd Q
12:43 left - pass overthrown (and deep on side) for MVS
11:56 left - pass overthrown for MNS
9:36 left - pass behind Davante - produce INT
4:48 left - pass overthrown for MNS - produce the INT
1:37 left - pass behind Davante
4th Q
13:14 left - pass overthrown for Dillon

What is more interesting that AJ Dillon got only 4 opportunity to run the ball only 4 times and he brought with that 4 times 19 yards for around 4.8 y/run (longest run was for 6 yards 2 times). He was involved in passing game, too. He was targeted 2 times for 7 yards on one occasion and second one is already described. Why they insisted on Aaron Jones, I do not understand with his statistic - A. Jones 5 times for 9 yards, 1.8 y/run with longest one for 3 yards! At the same time Kylin Hill had also 5 runs with stats 5 runs for 14 yards, 2.8 yard/run with longest run of 8 yards.

All together, when you put that together it was ugly performance on offense, the worst was AR, something between bad and ugly performance on D (they were on the field for 34:36 and if we will exclude last two Packers drive led by Love Packers O had possession only 1/3 of the time.

What is encouraging, Love looks decent, but it is obvious it need a lot to work on himself to be very well QB.

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cinpackback's picture

September 12, 2021 at 10:35 pm

I look forward to reading your wrap up, even, or especially after a terrible game like this. I just couldn’t watch…

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LayingTheLawe's picture

September 12, 2021 at 10:37 pm

So the Packers saw that last year the Buccaneers lost to the Saints 38 - 3 in week 1 and then won the Super Bowl and they tried to repeat that? Bold plan.

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baldski's picture

September 12, 2021 at 10:48 pm

I think the combination of Kevin King and Henry Black needs to learn how to do Cover 3.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

September 12, 2021 at 11:37 pm

Like I've said before, firing Pettine was a mistake. Sure, his defense wasn't in the top 10, but people forget that before Pettine we didn't even have a top 20 defense. Now we're stuck with Joe 'lots of energy' Barry. If this was an indicator of what he's going to bring I'm guessing we won't even be in the top 30 this season.

And the offense has apparently imploded as well. I know it's the first game of the season, but God damn... I guess we suck now. So this is what it feels like being a Bears fan.

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RedMN's picture

September 13, 2021 at 12:28 am

When lots of energy is the high point of your resume, hire someone else. I coached the D of the 2008 0-16 loins and a successful bottom 5 defense in Washington for 2 years. I was not a member of the coaching staff for the 17 winless browns. By then I had already accepted a lesser role with the rams as a linebacker coach. Overall I'm a big believer in the predictable finesse style of defense. I have tons of energy though ehh?

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joejetson's picture

September 12, 2021 at 11:43 pm

Rodgers looks skinny and gaunt. I guess a full offseason of soul searching and contemplation will do that. Maybe he should have tried some conditioning and weight lifting.

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WilsonMaywick's picture

September 13, 2021 at 06:02 am

The conditioning you speak of goes into his hair

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RedMN's picture

September 13, 2021 at 12:14 am

Uhh... my early gut reaction is I think the dance took place last year

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JohnnyLogan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 01:08 am

It's not acceptable to criticize the Packers when hope is high and no one has yet dropped a pass or missed a tackle, as I discovered by collecting a Kilimanjaro high number of "thumbs down" for saying things like this in the thread about Gute going all in. "Definitely not all in. Gute kept the offense together, that's true, but he did very little to improve an average to poor defense. Weak at CB and ILB, as we have been for years. Where's the all-in?"

Blasted for saying there is no one to play CB opposite Jaire. That the Packer ILBs are maybe the worst in all of football. Lowry and Lancaster are awful. No pass rush when your main rusher, Z. Smith, is injured and the other two guys are just ordinary; P. Smith coming off a bad year is just a guy now... and Rashan Gary?... year three, still waiting for that breakout everyone here was so sure was on the horizon. The reports from training camp were that he was dominant, that no one can block him, yet every time Kamara ran past him he was looking the other way or being shoved to the ground. The closest he got to Winston was when Winston came back to the huddle and stepped over him.

Add to that what almost unanimously was a bad hire in Joe Barry, and what you have is a crap D that gives up seven and ten-minute drives. While watching the game did anyone expect a stop at any time? If so, by whom?

My hope is that Gute learns from David Stearns of the Brewers. The Brewers had great pitching but the worst offense in baseball up to the All-Star game. He recognized that and went out and got four new starters. Since then the Brewers have had the best offense in all of baseball.

Gute has an offense that will likely return to form. But the defense is a mess. Gute has to be proactive. Poor players must be cut. King (Stokes starting to see what they have is a beginning), Lowry, Lancaster, Sullivan. Find a middle linebacker who can cover and plug a hole. And please, a short leash for Joe Barry. I'd fire him now. It would be a signal to the team that he was truly all in.

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Bure9620's picture

September 13, 2021 at 01:48 am

We were dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage. Typically that means you lose. Everything else went to hell on top of that so this could be quite concerning moving forward.

The Good-Jordan Love made some nice throws in garbage time and displayed his arm talent. Stokes played well.

The Bad-The rest

The Ugly-Aaron Rodgers. His play was awful. QBR of 12 and passer rating of 36. This is poor play for a backup QB.....I don't know what was worse, his play or his attitude. He checked out. It is possible the Jordan Love era could and/or should be coming this season. I really don't think that is hyperbole.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 04:29 am

AR QBR 36,8!
JL QBR 102,1!

Who would tell that!

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 08:57 am

Right! Who would think that practising with the team improves the players??

Rodgers and "main" receivers missed OTAs and other voluntary practices. It shows!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 13, 2021 at 04:38 am

Offensive MVP: Jenkins. While not Bakh, he is a legitimate starting LT.
Defensive MVP: Amos or Jaire. Both were good. Amos had more impact.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 08:01 am

I noticed Amos and Jaire too... those 2 were good.

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PewAuKeeFan's picture

September 13, 2021 at 07:55 am

OL was clue-less. Zero help to running game; poor protection in pass game.

DL was porous.

AR and receivers were not on the same page. The first interception was thrown behind Adams, allowing an easy pick. The second interception was thrown beyond MVS when there was a safety in front of MVS. Several other not-on-the-same-page throws.

ST did not get tested much on returns. When the defense cannot get stops, 2 whole parts of ST becomes moot. The ST on coverage was OK, but did not get tested too much either because mojo Bojo was good.

With all said and done: Go Pack Go!

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croatpackfan's picture

September 14, 2021 at 04:10 am

At least Love have seen it, what not to do under any circumstances...

It was good lesson on how the worst QB play looks like!

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THESZOTMAN1's picture

September 13, 2021 at 08:24 am

Game reminded me of that old Peanuts schtick where Charlie Brown comes running up to kick the football and Lucy pulls it out from under him. Poor Charlie ends up flat on his back, looking up at an empty sky, wondering what happened. Just plug in NOLA for Lucy and GB for CB. You might as well laugh.
The Szotman

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Booner's picture

September 13, 2021 at 09:33 am

Gute and Murphy need to go! They are the ones driving. You will never win a championship with that defense! Time to take out the garbage! That starts with the guys pulling the strings!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 13, 2021 at 10:24 am

The game made me think of the title of a very old Spencer Tracy movie which was entitled:
"Bad Day at Black Rock"

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 13, 2021 at 11:15 am

Sunday's NFL game results left fodder for both the optimist as well as the pessimist:

Optimist: The Packers are tied for the lead in the NFC North

Pessimist: The Packers have the worst record in the NFC North

Me: I just hope this first game is an aberration.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

September 13, 2021 at 01:08 pm

Appreciate the write up, Sarah.

There was a definite gap in motivation going into this game, and it showed up on the field. I certainly hope this isn't who the Packers are this year, but if they can't return to form quickly I expect there will be some dramatic changes happening. AR looked like a shell of himself, and his timing and accuracy looked off all day.

The Packers may decide to burn the film on this one, but I guarantee future opponents won't. I certainly hope our offense fares better the next time defenses show these kinds of looks, because otherwise this is going to be real tough sledding.

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