It wasn’t pretty. Nobody said it would be. The Green Bay Packers escaped what would’ve otherwise been a disastrous loss by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-20 at Lambeau Field on Sunday.
Naturally, the overreaction crowd on Twitter is up in arms complaining, after a win. Despite the anxiety piercing through the bones of Packers fans everywhere throughout the contest, I’m not too worried and am certainly not going to cave in and overreact to one game.
Again, one they won.
At the end of the season, no matter what the Packers record ends up being, not a single soul is going to look back and say, “Yeah, but they barely beat the Jaguars.” It will only be looked back upon as a win.
These games happen, be thankful Green Bay held on for a win. The Packers next opponent is the Indianapolis Colts, a team coming off an impressive victory on Thursday night against the Tennessee Titans. The Colts sit at 6-3. Nobody is saying, “Well I don’t know they lost to the Jaguars in Week 1.” It’s a 16-game marathon, every team is going to have the head-scratchers like the Packers did against Jacksonville. The key is just surviving and solving the puzzle to find a way to win them. That’s what Green Bay did.
Now it’s fair to critique and question some aspects of the game. James Robinson gashed the Packers run defense for large chunks throughout the game, finishing with 109 yards on 23 carries. It could’ve been a lot more as he had two touchdown runs nullified, both on holding calls. The problems up front with Green Bay’s run defense are nothing new. With Christian Kirksey back in the fold I think some, myself included, expected a little more today, but the run defense is still a problem. But again, the sky is not falling at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Green Bay is atop the NFC North at 7-2.
One thing I will circle that seems to be a constant problem for the Packers in games they lose or games like this where they are expected to breeze by (Green Bay was favored by 13.5 at kickoff) and then struggle, is the physicality. Jacksonville did not at any point play like a defeated and intimidated 1-7 team.
In fact, they at times bullied Green Bay at the line of scrimmage and contained the edge impressively throughout. They negated any big play runs by Aaron Jones and Jamal Williams outside of a late 20 yard burst by Jones in the 4th quarter. This has been a theme for the Packers at times the last few seasons, and I can’t sit here and tell you I have an answer for it. Perhaps it, and the struggling run defense will be the ultimate downfall for the Packers this season. It wouldn’t be anything new (see 2019 NFC Championship). But this idea to inject panic and concern after a close WIN against the Jaguars, I’m not doing it.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught the eye of the green and gold faithful for a second consecutive week. After a moon ball that fell into his lap for a 78-yard touchdown to put Green Bay up 7-3, Valdes-Scantling was the guy Rodgers kept going back to in the time that Davante Adams was sidelined working out an ankle tweak.
With the game tied late in the 3rd and Adams on the sideline, Rodgers hit MVS on a crosser for 31 yards to open up a drive. The very next drive, right outside the Jaguars red zone, Rodgers connected with MVS again, for an 18-yard pitch-and-catch to the Jacksonville six yard line. Valdes-Scantling finished with four catches for 149 yards and a touchdown on six targets. I really really want to buy into the notion that MVS can become a reliable option as the No. 2 or 3 wideout on this team, but we still haven’t seen the consistency near enough.
Back to back thumbs up performances should fill Rodgers with more trust to throw the way of No. 83 and for the time being, I’m here for it. I’m just not completely buying into the stock yet, despite a solid outing for Valdes-Scantling.
Next up is the Indianapolis Colts, and it will be a great test for Green Bay. The Colts boast an impressive defense that will get in your face and get physical. They rank right around the top 10 in quarterback pressure, pressure percentage and quarterback hurries, yet they rarely blitz.
For now, everyone relax. The Packers are 7-2, better than most teams. But, like every other team, have things to improve on.