Matt LaFleur’s team was humbled on Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
It proved to be one of those days. And it certainly didn’t start out that way for a Green Bay Packers’ team that had won its first four games and played nearly flawless football offensively over that stretch.
Matt LaFleur’s club got off to a 10-0 first-quarter against the Buccaneers at Tampa on Sunday. And then it all came apart very quickly for a team that had looked as good as any other in the league in the early going of 2020. And then before you could sat Jamel Dean, quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw a pick-six and was then intercepted again when a throw went off the hands of wide receiver Davante Adams and into the hands of second-year safety Mike Edwards.
It was all downhill from for Rodgers and company. Bruce Arians’ team scored the final 38 points of the game and handed Green Bay a resounding 28-point comeback and their first loss of the season. And suddenly, the Packers are slightly trailing the 5-1 Chicago Bears in the NFC North.
Of course, there’ hardly reason for panic. And you can expect LaFleur’s team to rebound after being humbled, because…
1. Aaron Rodgers is still the quarterback
It was a rough afternoon for the 16-year veteran. He finished the day connecting on less than half of his passes (16-of-35), did not throw a TD pass and was picked off twice. Rodgers was sacked four times, this after being dumped just three times during the team’s 4-0 start. His first two interceptions of the season seem to play on his mind and he looked tentative for most of the rest of the afternoon.
2. Offensive line issues will be fixed
It was a rough day for this unit against the likes of Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh, the latter renewing acquaintances with old friend Aaron Rodgers (see Jason Owens of Yahoo! Sports). And things got worse after left tackle David Bakhtiari went down with a chest injury. So will he be available this week? After the game, Matt LaFleur explained (via Packers.com). “I know he’s still being evaluated but we’re hopeful that he will be OK.” Veteran right tackle Ricky Wagner filled in for Bakhtiari and struggled. But perhaps a week at practice, if that is the case, would certainly be helpful.
3. NFC North is still very winnable
It’s one loss and there are still 11 games to play. In terms of the big picture, it was yet another loss to a very physical football team – shades of the 2019 season. But a year ago, the Packers finished 13-3 and won a division title and swept the NFC North in the process. Green Bay kicked off this season with a win at Minnesota and then rallied for a 42-21 victory at home against the Lions. That means LaFleur is a perfect 8-0 in divisional games. The 4-1 Packers now trail the 5-1 Bears, whose defense could also give Rodgers and company fits. But Green Bay swept this series in 2019 and Chicago still has plenty to prove.
It was one bad outing in a season full of positives for the most part. It would be shocking if the Rodgers and the Packers did not bounce back. It’s a small sample size but this team has yet to lose two straight games under LaFleur.