Packers get booed off Lambeau Field in the first back-to-back losses of the Matt LaFleur era

Ryan Wood
Packers News

GREEN BAY, Wis. – The boos were as cold as the temperature on this mid-October afternoon inside Lambeau Field. They chased the Green Bay Packers offense off the field more than once, to the sideline where it could do no more damage, until fans did the unthinkable with 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

That’s when the exodus from Lambeau Field’s bleacher bowl began. The Packers were only two touchdowns behind, significant but not insurmountable in the Aaron Rodgers era. It didn’t matter. These fans had seen enough.

For the first time since Matt LaFleur was hired as head coach in 2019, the Packers lost on consecutive weeks. They followed their trip to London with a 27-10 home loss to the New York Jets, calling into question how low their ceiling is this season.

The loss dropped the Packers to 3-3 this season.

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Here are some quick observations:

Offensive line needs a shuffle

The Packers have no choice but to reconsider how they configure their offensive line. The Jets brutalized Aaron Rodgers on Sunday, hitting him eight times with four sacks. The run game wasn’t much better with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon combining for 60 yards on 19 carries, a 3.1-yard average. There was an improvement on the ground as the game progressed, but the Packers running back tandem was stuffed early, perhaps dissuading LaFleur from riding Jones and Dillon throughout. The Jets have a stout defensive front, but they made the Packers offense look dysfunctional for much of Sunday’s game.

Rodgers finished 26-of-41 for 246 yards, one touchdown and an 88.1 passer rating, his third straight game with a rating under 100. It’s the first time since late in the 2019 season Rodgers has had three straight games without reaching a 100 rating.

David Bakhtiari returned as a full-time left tackle, which meant Yosh Nijman was buried on the sideline. Meanwhile, the right side of the Packers offensive line struggled, with Jake Hanson replacing right guard Royce Newman late in the first half before exiting with a biceps injury. It’s hard to understand why Nijman hasn’t taken the starting right tackle spot, which would move Jenkins to his best position at guard, and solve the rotating door right guard became Sunday.

Aaron Jones is a nonfactor again

For whatever reason, the Packers continued to struggle to get their best player the football. Aaron Jones had just nine carries against the Jets, a week after he had just 13 against the New York Giants.

Jones’ 19 yards Sunday might suggest the ground game wasn’t working, but he’s the type of playmaker who can spark a big play any time he touches the ball. With Jones, the approach should be volume shooting, giving him as many opportunities to turn the momentum as possible.

Jones had a 22-yard run wiped out because of an Elgton Jenkins penalty midway through, but that didn’t entice LaFleur to give by far his biggest playmaker more chances. Until the Packers decide to ride Jones more deliberately, their offense likely will continue to struggle.

No takeaways for the Packers defense

The Packers defense played well once again, at least until the game was out of reach in the fourth quarter. That isn’t a surprise given how the first five games of this season have mostly unfolded. The Packers entered Sunday ranked 11th in the NFL with 19.6 points allowed per game and fifth with 303.4 yards allowed. Their biggest problem continued to be their biggest problem Sunday: a lack of big plays.

For the second straight week, the Packers failed to force a turnover. They have only four this season, fewer entering Sunday than any team in the league except Las Vegas and Washington. Good defenses make things difficult on opponents. Great defenses make game-changing plays. The lack of takeaways might be the biggest reason the Packers have played an even .500 through six games.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry mixed it up

After vowing there would be more diversity in his coverage calls this week, defensive coordinator Joe Barry followed up with actually mixing his scheme against the Jets.

Cornerback Jaire Alexander played a handful of snaps in the slot, including the game’s initial third down, an incomplete pass from Jets quarterback Zach Wilson to rookie receiver Garrett Wilson. Rasul Douglas remained the predominant nickel corner, and he was on the sideline when the Packers went with their base defense. But Alexander moved more around the secondary Sunday than he has at any point this season. It was a more creative way for Barry to use the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.

The New York Jets defense blocks a field goal attempt by Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) in the second quarter on Sunday, Oct. 16, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.

Not-so-special teams again

In the third quarter, the Packers special teams had a spat of déjà vu. Jets defensive lineman Mike Clemons beat personal protector Dallin Leavitt to block the football off Packers punter Chris O’Donnell’s foot. Safety Will Parks scooped the blocked punt and returned it for a 20-yard touchdown in the same end zone the San Francisco 49ers returned a blocked punt for a score in last season’s playoff game, a play that effectively ended the Packers season.

Like last year’s playoff loss, the Packers also had a field goal blocked in the first half. There has been positive momentum this season for a special teams unit that was moribund in 2021, but Sunday was clear regression.