Amongst all the problems the Green Bay Packers had in Week 1 against the New Orleans Saints, none was more unexplainable on the offensive side of the ball than the complete abandonment of the run game in the first half.
Kylin Hill, the promising seventh-round pick out of Mississippi State, ended up leading the way in rushing for Green Bay, tallying five carries for 14 yards. That blueprint needs to change fast for Green Bay, and it starts in Week 2 when the Detroit Lions come to Lambeau Field.
Green Bay trailed early against the Saints, and immediately they appeared antsy and out of sorts on offense. On one end, it’s a unit that isn’t used to playing from behind, especially the depths they saw on Sunday. On the other hand, it’s still an uber-talented group with the reigning MVP at quarterback. A two-touchdown deficit in the first half shouldn’t have them looking as panicked as they did.
Matt LaFleur has been brilliant, scheming up game plans for the Packers in his first two seasons running the show. Sunday’s plan, if it can be categorized as such, was embarrassing.
The Packers trailed 17-3 in the second quarter, but you’d think it was the fourth quarter with five minutes left by the play calling.
Green Bay ran empty set after empty set. It allowed the Saints to pin their ears back. Green Bay’s decision to completely throw out the run game in the second quarter was beyond bizarre, and it was easy for New Orleans to cut the options in half when the Packers kept going five-wide.
Aaron Jones finished the game with five carries, and AJ Dillon had only four. That lack of attention to the run game can not be repeated if this team has true Super Bowl aspirations. We get it, they were down 14 early, and it wasn’t as if the run game was having a ton of success. But there’s something to be said for keeping a defense honest when the game is still in the early stages, and the Packers didn’t do that.
Dillon ripped off back-to-back six-yard runs to move the chains on Green Bay’s second drive of the game. The Packers then dialed up three consecutive passes and ended up moving back four yards before punting on fourth and 14.
Their first possession of the second half was beyond one dimensional at a time when the game was still well within reach.
Trailing 17-3 coming out of halftime, the Packers had the first crack on offense. They proceeded to go: pass (penalty), run, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass (penalty), pass, pass, run, pass (interception).
Sure, they moved the ball, but the drive ended in Rodgers’ first interception in the red zone since 2019. The Saints sat back, rushed three or four, got consistent pressure, and locked things up in the secondary. And the Packers kept taking the bait by throwing over and over again.
Rodgers is one of the greatest ever to do it. This isn’t a diatribe about taking the ball out of his hands. It’s a realization that the panicked scheme against New Orleans was brutal to watch and can’t be repeated. Aaron Jones is one of the most dynamic backs in the NFL. Use him as such. AJ Dillon is a bowling ball of a running back and started the game with two six-yard runs. He received two more carries the rest of the game. Use him more.
As a result, Green Bay is 0-1 because of the shenanigans across the board, especially offensive miscues. They could not be meeting up with the Detroit Lions at a better time.
The Lions gave up 41 points in a Week 1 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. While Detroit put up an incredible effort after trailing 41-17 to make it 41-33, they still fell short.
Detroit lost Jeff Okudah for the year to a ruptured Achilles. It’s a brutal injury to a promising young cornerback, and it leaves the Lions super thin in the secondary. One would imagine the passing game will click for Green Bay.
While both avenues of the offense should see a fair share of success against Detroit, they need to work in harmony. And after their display in Week 1, all of a sudden suggesting a fair share of success from the offense feels a bit greedy.
There’s no need to panic or freak out about the Packers — yet. A win over the Lions in convincing fashion would help calm some of the fans’ angst after Week 1. For the offense, that means find a happy balance.
If Jones and Dillon combine for fewer than 10 carries again, we riot, regardless of the result.