Progress. That’s what we were looking for on Sunday from the young Green Bay Packers. It’s fair to say we saw some. We wanted to see the offense look a bit more dynamic, and the defense put the clamps on a low-end backup quarterback. Check and check.
Let’s start with the defense. Everybody knows you can’t let Brett Rypien beat you, whether you’re playing at Lambeau Field or Strawberry Fields. And the Pack kept the clamps on him all afternoon, not once allowing the Los Angeles Rams to reach the red zone and holding them to under 200 yards of total offense.
The revamped secondary, featuring seventh-round rookies Carrington Valentine and Anthony Johnson making their first starts, didn’t allow LA’s talented receivers to get behind them or beat them with chunks of yards after the catch. Not lacking bravado, Valentine didn’t allow a catch and broke up a couple of passes.
When Kenny Clark exited with a shoulder injury, rookies Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden stepped up on the D-line, and each made impact plays to extinguish drives. Brooks, in particular, looks like he’s ready to take on a bigger role. Sure, you’re supposed to dominate a Rams team missing Matthew Stafford, but the Pack accomplished it down four starters and relying heavily on inexperienced rookies – a promising development.
The offense continues to be its own worst enemy. They had untimely penalties, a pair of lost fumbles in the third quarter, and a few drops. Jordan Love had a couple of misguided throws. But hey, we’re just looking for progress here, and we got it. They actually scored a first-half touchdown.
The Packers put the ball in Aaron Jones’ hands 24 times (yes, you read that correctly) and rushed for nearly 200 yards as a team. Love went 12-13 for 160 yards in the second half, with some nice deep throws to Christian Watson and Luke Musgrave. There was even a Sean Rhyan sighting. Last year’s third-round pick made his presence felt in the few snaps he played in place of Jon Runyan.
In all, the Packers had 13 rookies on the field, and virtually all of them had strong games. It was the bounce-back performance the team had to have. While it didn’t come close to answering all of the team’s questions, it was a small step in the right direction.
The next four games may not add any Ws to the bottom line. But if we can see gradual, trackable progress on both sides of the ball like we did on Sunday, the future might be a little brighter than we thought.