How Will The Packers Respond Against The Commanders?

Will the Packers continue on their losing streak or start living up to their preseason potential?

Legendary NFL coach Bill Parcells once famously said, "you are what your record says you are." Sitting at 3-3, the Packers have stumbled out of the gates, to put it lightly, through the first six games, particularly over the last two contests. After owning a 20 to 10 halftime lead against the Giants, they were outscored 44 to 10 in the next six quarters of play. It would be understandable if they were playing against the likes of Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, and/or [insert any top-10 QB so far this season]. Instead, they played against Daniel Jones and Zach Wilson, neither of whom are anything to write about. Even though Daniel Jones had a passer rating of over 100, most, if not all, of his damage came on crossing routes as it looked like he was playing on rookie mode in Madden. Wilson, meanwhile, registered a 73.8 passer rating in the win while only throwing for 110 yards (6.1 yards/attempt). It would also be understandable if they were playing against vaunted defensive units, but the Giants’ and Jets’ defense, while good in some areas, did not present massive matchup problems by any means.

You can look at stretches of play in the prior 18 quarters, too, and poke holes throughout with ease. It would be one thing if the Packers simply did not have the requisite talent to compete for a Lombardi Trophy and/or were in the midst of a rebuilding year. If either of those things were true, a 3-3 record would be discussed a helluva differently. The fact of the matter is that they do have the talent and this is not a rebuilding year. They are simply underperforming. 

Luckily, there are still 11 games left, including Sunday's contest. Eleven. I cannot stress enough that there is plenty of season left to be played. Plus, there certainly have been stretches of good play, albeit few and far in between, from both sides of the ball. And if there was an ideal opponent for the Packers to face in order to get the train back on the tracks, at least temporarily, the Commanders would be in the mix. Offensively, they sit 29th in points per game (17.0), 24th in total offense (320.3 yards/game) and rush offense (95.5 rush yards/game), and 29th in total DVOA (-19.1%). Their offensive line has also been a liability as the unit has allowed 23 sacks on the season, tied with the Bears for the most in the NFL. Oh, and by the way, Ron Rivera's squad is turning to last year's starter and current backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke in replace of the injured Carson Wentz. His 2021 passer rating of 85.9 ranked 25th and he threw 15 interceptions in 15 games started, but Heinicke did one have at least one bright spot last year. When these two teams met almost a year ago to the date, Heinicke completed 25-of-37 passes for 268 yards and 1 touchdown (plus an interception) and also registered 10 carries for 95 yards.

So while the Packers' defense could be in line for a bounce back, can the same be said for the offensive line after allowing four sacks last week? The Commanders' defensive front with the likes of Daron Payne (3.5 sacks), Jonathan Allen (3.5 sacks), and defensive end Montez Sweat (3 sacks) definitely presents some challenges. They sacked Justin Fields five times and registered 12 quarterback hits last week, and their 19 total sacks rank tied for fourth in the NFL. However, if the offensive line is able to hold up -- I am sure most of you are not holding your breath in that regard and I do not blame you -- and/or if the Packers opt to mix in more quick release throws for Aaron Rodgers, they should be able to take advantage of a secondary that only has one interception on the season and is 19th in Pass DVOA. And while the analytics are fans of the Commanders' run defense, 5th in DVOA, they are still allowing roughly 132 rush yards per game (25th). 

Regardless of what the Commanders are on paper though, this game is not a gimme. No games in the National Football League are, really, but that is especially true considering Green Bay's current state of play so the Packers cannot afford to look ahead to the Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

Altogether, Matt LaFleur's squad, for the first time in his tenure, have their backs up against the wall, having lost back to back games for the first time under LaFleur and technically are sitting outside of the playoff standings (remember: 11 games left). So, how will they respond against Washington on Sunday? Will they continue to wilt away and fail to reach their potential? Or will the Packers start figuratively punching their opponents in the mouth and show the Packer faithful, and the rest of NFL nation, that their overall body of work thus far is not an indication of what the team will be for the remainder of the season? 

As the late Kevin Greene once told Clay Matthews, it is time. 

__________________________

Rex is a lifelong Packers fan but was sick of the cold, so he moved to the heart of Cowboys country. Follow him on Twitter (@Sheild92) and Instagram (@rex.sheild). 

2 points

Comments (40)

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

October 21, 2022 at 11:29 am

if Newman is starting that says it all.

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stockholder's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:10 pm

Package Newman in a trade.

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PackyCheese500's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:51 pm

Cut him. Who would want him?

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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 06:31 pm

Cut Hanson first

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dblbogey's picture

October 21, 2022 at 11:39 am

If Rodgers play doesn't improve, we're done. For a few years.

1 points
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Duneslick's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:39 pm

Were done anyway you look at it. Love is not the answer

-3 points
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Return_To_Sanity's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:29 pm

Imagine if the Packers gave up on Rodgers after a game and a half when he looked terrible early in his career. You draft a qb for the longhaul, not for how he looks in a random spot start.

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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2022 at 10:53 am

Love is one person who has definitely not been responsible for our offensive constipation. Yet some seem to feel it’s necessary to bring him up. Deflection or just nothing to say?

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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2022 at 11:53 am

The Preseason Potential Bar seems a tad too high at the moment. Although, playing possibly, one of the worst teams in the NFL should make the challenge less a mountain climb. Though one's breath may be hard to catch at times, even climbing a molehill.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:30 pm

To climb a molehill one still has to take a step in the right direction.

4 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:38 pm

There is no denying that this team has the ability to take another step backwards, as it might forward.

4 points
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MainePackFan's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:33 pm

This is true. I would venture a guess if we see another dud from this team we can safely assume that regardless of what we the fans think. this team doesn't believe in themselves. Then it will get ugly in a hurry.

6 points
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Return_To_Sanity's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:30 pm

I think its already there.

2 points
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PackyCheese500's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:51 pm

I think we’ve already taken a step backward, and when we did, tripped and fell and broke our common sense (MLF and Barry I’m looking at you guys!)

3 points
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PearlyBakerBest's picture

October 21, 2022 at 10:06 pm

No need to watch the game then.

2 points
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ricky's picture

October 21, 2022 at 12:28 pm

Just as the Packers and the fans are looking to "right the ship", so are the Commanders and their fans. Expect the same look the Packers got from their last two opponents: stack the box, and dare Rodgers to throw. Then wait, as he either (a) holds onto the ball too long; (b) has no time to pass because he is swarmed almost immediately; or (c) throws a long "hero ball" that goes incomplete. Expect the Commanders to run the ball, emphasize shorter, crossing routes, and move the chains. This is predictable. Will the Packers bring out a different OL contingent? Will they "simplify" the offense? How will the defense play? They seem totally lost in the backfield, and seem to have forgotten how to tackle. And, maybe most importantly, will Rodgers stop moping and look like he actually cares about playing? There is a lot to be addressed, and although there are 11 more games, the end of the season will come before we know it. Because the "easy" part of the schedule is ending.

7 points
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Caden819's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:02 pm

Will the Packers bring out a different OL contingent? Adjustments? Haha don’t make me laugh.
Will they "simplify" the offense?
What’s complicated about it?
How will the defense play?
Lights out until the 2nd half!
They seem totally lost in the backfield, and seem to have forgotten how to tackle. And, maybe most importantly, will Rodgers stop moping and look like he actually cares about playing?
He does care about playing, for his stats
Just like you said. It’s all too predictable, we’re gonna see 40+ throws, throws forced into double coverage, throws at receivers feet, hero ball, 6 touches for Jones and 10 for Dillon. No creativity on play calling, shotgun passes on 3rd and 2 as well as goal to go situations. Lights out D then when half rolls around they make no adjustments to the opposing offense. The packers will once again make a back up QB look like an mvp because that’s just who they are. Commanders 31 Packers 7

-4 points
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Return_To_Sanity's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:34 pm

Its funny hearing Rodgers complain about the offense being too complex. 4 weeks ago against the Bears, he fumbled a handoff cuz he turned the wrong way like an idiot. And instead of saying my bad and moving on, cameras spotted him on the sideline screaming and pointing his finger cuz he didnt like the play. This is a microcosm of everything wrong with this team. They cant even run creative run plays cuz the qb has a hard time turning the right way and then blames the playcall instead of his own lack of preparation.

1 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 21, 2022 at 12:33 pm

The next two games should tell us all we need to know about this team.

A) Commanders: Do the Packers come out with a chip on their shoulder the way a good team should after getting embarrassed and take their frustrations out on an inferior opponent for 60 minutes?

B) Bills: Can the talent play and coaching staff coach to the level of competition offered by one of the best teams out there? You know the Bills will be ready to rock.

If the answer is no to either one or both of these questions, the FO needs to start thinking about ways to reconfigure this team for the long term.

4 points
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tincada's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:29 pm

If GB can't win the next two games get the forks out. They'll be lucky to be a 500 team and yes that means a lackluster tie somewhere along the way..

2 points
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Packerlifer's picture

October 22, 2022 at 11:05 pm

They must at least sandwich wins over Washington & Detroit around an all but certain loss at Buffalo to even be considered a playoff team this season.

1 points
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tincada's picture

October 25, 2022 at 08:04 am

How's that 1/2 sandwich tasting?

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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 01:35 pm

Do we come out not just motivated by it with an aggressive game plan supported by consistent personnel usage and calling?

If we come out passive and with the same extraordinary timidity on both sides of the ball, then we will know that the game is up and the pretensions proved empty and there will be no hiding from it.

Of course that was said last week, but many still don’t see it and hide behind records. Well, that really won’t be tenable after this week unless we come out and not only win but impose ourselves on the game and the score line.

Based on what I’ve heard this week. We might see a change in the OL, we might see a more aggressive D with less 2 ILB sets to address intermediate coverage, but on O we will be lucky if we see more than Jones getting a larger role. Even those aren’t a given based on last week though.

6 points
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MainePackFan's picture

October 21, 2022 at 02:47 pm

After watching the all 22, if the Packers don't find a way to expand the field, they are toast. The Jets had no fear of being beat deep. They were playing the game as if it was a 20 yard field.

6 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 04:33 pm

Exactly. That’s absolutely the core fault in their whole plan.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:39 pm

When the coach and qb are at odds and preaching 2 completely different messages, you cant possibly hope to win games in this league. We can argue about Lafleur'a capabilities as a coach until were blue in the face, but the fact is, its his team to run. Rodgers needs to focus on doing his damn job. And what that job is, is not for Rodgers to decide. Chain of command is everything. And Rodgers is the only one I see "breaking rank" as he so eloquently put it in his own press conference right before trashing said coach.

2 points
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Swisch's picture

October 21, 2022 at 12:51 pm

It's important to win, but even more important to show some significant signs of change in the overall operation of the offense and the defense, as well as general enthusiasm.
We don't have to expect complete change, but the beginning of sincere change that builds week to week.
After two more games, we're at about midseason -- and without real changes by LaFleur and Barry, we should probably fire them, regardless of the team record.
Then, we'd still have nine more games to turn things around for this season, which is long and winding and full of opportunities for surprise turnarounds. In 2010, a record of 10-6 led to a Super Bowl.
In the general weakness of the NFC, we shouldn't give up on this season for making the playoffs, whoever is coaching, whoever is playing.
Never give up!!!

-1 points
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coolhand's picture

October 21, 2022 at 03:15 pm

As far as coaching goes, I could see Barry or Stenovich let go if the team flounders again, but MLF I believe is safe in his job because of his past record here. Now, since he hired the 2 coaches, his butt should be on the line as well in my view.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 11:09 pm

If he has to fire his OC, DC or both and still is here then we are doomed till Murphy goes.

0 points
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Packerlifer's picture

October 22, 2022 at 11:11 pm

There will be no coaches fired in the midst of the season in Green Bay. Don’t even bother fantasizing about it.

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arthurl's picture

October 21, 2022 at 03:17 pm

They have to get the OL playing better; that’s a big part of it. They’ve got to be able to sustain offensive drives and give their defense a blow. Thing is they have personnel to make their OL better, if the coaches decide to do so. The coach also needs to scheme offensive plays to keep the opposing defense guessing more. If the offense can get untracked, that will go a long way to turning the season around.

The defense has had trouble stopping the run which was the case last season also. I thought this supposedly improved DL and the ILBs were gonna help, but so far it’s the same thing; why?

Team better get their act together. They have lost two winnable games and if they lose to a crappy Washington team; all that hype before the season means nothing.

1 points
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Fubared's picture

October 21, 2022 at 04:27 pm

Should be a cake walk even for the Packers but before everyone starts the "were back" chant. Washingtons top QB out, top three receivers out, top pass rusher out. Running back hurt. If we cant beat these guys then put a fork in this team.
However, Dallas, Bills and Eagles and Vikes are coming up and a good pass rush from the Lions too so there is a lot of misery left for this season. Hell the time may just fall apart after this fiasco and call i

2 points
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SugarCain's picture

October 21, 2022 at 05:35 pm

Algebraic formula is this:

Aaron Jones + ( 15+ ) Touches = Wins

2 points
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AnotherLombardiPlease's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:02 pm

Perspective: in 1996 the Packers began the season dominating on both offense and defense. About 2/3 of the way through the season we lost both Chmura and Freeman to injury. The Packers went into an immediate slump, dropping back-to-back games to the Chiefs (20-27) and Cowboys (6-21) in which the Packers didn't even score a TD. They were down 9-3 at the half of the Rams game until an interception return jump started a strong second half. They never lost again that season.

Now I'm NOT in any way suggesting the 2022 team has anywhere near the talent of that powerful 1996 team but the parallel I'm drawing is that our weakened receiving group is a perhaps our gravest liability. Teams are able to ignore the deep threat and clamp down on the runs and shorter routes.

Our OL play of course is another issue but, IMHO, the key to unlocking our offensive potential is to get a deep threat back. We badly need Watkins and/or Watson to stretch the defense. Assuming the Packers can somehow weather the storm (hardly a given), if Watson in particular could blossom, the Packer offense has a chance of regaining its full field potential.

1 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 21, 2022 at 11:55 pm

I sorely wish we’d had a plan to get all the rookie WRs ready to contribute and gaining as much experience within assigned roles with Rodgers as possible. That way we could have greater options on game day and more depth when Cobb, Watkins or Lazard are out and through interchanging pieces. That would have made the learning curve more reasonable and helped foster understanding and would not be confined to this bonsai root tree we’ve seen.

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PackyCheese500's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:46 pm

Here is an interesting perspective:

https://zonecoverage.com/2022/packers/mark-my-words-the-green-bay-packer...

Perhaps, maybe, there is a glimmer of hope? Maybe MLF will finally learn? Remember, Capers wasn’t that great of a DC. Here are 4 things, from my perspective, that need to happen for the Packers to have a chance at a playoff run:

1. Fix OL. Move Jenkins to LG, move Runyan to RG, and put Yosh at RT. Bench Newman. It’s that simple.

2. Better play from vets. Campbell, Stokes, Savage, and Douglas have not been doing as well this year. They need to do better. To help them, here are some ideas I have: Start Douglas as the primary outside corner opposite from Ja. On some snaps, Stokes could come in opposite Ja and Douglas could move to FS. On Nickel downs, Douglas can either be on the outside or at FS, and Savage can rotate between FS and Nickelback, and Ja can play some slot too.

3. Give Aaron Jones more touches, both run and pass. This says itself. Dillon also needs to be more involved in both run and pass.

4. Trade for Chase Claypool. We are too thin at WR. A third round pick should be good compensation.

-1 points
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Tundraboy's picture

October 21, 2022 at 09:51 pm

Who the hell knows, but if they don't start showing some signs of life I'll be rooting for a 5 and 12 season. Draft picks!

1 points
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Packers0808's picture

October 21, 2022 at 10:30 pm

Time to get Billy Howton out of mothballs!

1 points
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Packers0808's picture

October 21, 2022 at 10:30 pm

Time to get Billy Howton out of mothballs!

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croatpackfan's picture

October 22, 2022 at 03:00 am

After few days, just reading articles on CHTV I get it, but I do not know what to expect or what to wish.

I understand that articles has to give some hope to fans, even if situation and reality tells us differently. The truth is that salvation very often comes when you expect it the last.

I'm still confused. From my wishes Packers to lul another game, to wishes to see start on the right track. FIrst wish is not connected to fear and try to save myself of another disappointment, but on logical presumption that upper management would need to do urgent moves in any direction to right the ship. Second wish is connected to hope that the last game vs Jets already rise the level of alarm to the highest point and that Packers started to make necessary changes to improve the team in all phases.

Also, I do not know what would be better for Packers. There are many arguments to start over, as well as many arguments to made necessary correction and changes to level the Packers on the high note, we all expected they will be.

My mind tells me that my heart cheats me, and my heart tells me it is possible to right the ship. And I still do not know to what I should believe.

0 points
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