The Green Bay Packers have now lost their fourth game in a row. Even more discouraging then the outcome over the last month is that each loss looks fairly similar to the one before it, which tells us that any sort of improvement may not be happening any time soon.
From up in the press box, here are my instant takeaways from the Packers’ 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings:
— New week, same issues for the Packers offense in the first half. Missed blocks, penalties, dropped passes, wrong routes, an inability to win contested catches, and some off-target throws by Jordan Love. As a result, the Packers frequently found themselves in long down-and-distance situations, which have spelled doom for them this season. The passing game is nowhere near consistent enough to shoulder the burden in those situations.
— Without question, Love has areas to improve upon just like everyone else. But with that said, and as referenced in the last point, it has been pure chaos around him. There is nothing for the offense to hang its hat on when things get tough and there is no one thing or player struggling—it’s everyone and everything.
— Despite their first half woes, the Packers had four trips to the red zone but scored a touchdown only once and left with points on just one occasion. In the fourth quarter, the run game didn’t put them ahead of the sticks, Dontayvion Wicks had a crucial second down drop, and moving the ball through the air – especially when the defense is expecting it – in such a condensed part of the field is no easy task.
— The Vikings entered the game ranked first in blitz rate this season, and while they did send pressure, oftentimes to cause confusion, they instead showed pressure but dropped into coverage. I recall a few weeks ago, Love mentioned that unscouted looks were causing issues for the young offense, and the Vikings did a really good job of disguising what they were doing to cause some chaos.
— Where the offense has seemed to find some sort of success here and there is when they are in hurry up mode. At this point, why not make this aspect a bigger part of the offense if gives them a chance to yield some sort of positive results?
— The Packers defense was abysmal on third downs today. Too many easy completions allowed. The premise of the Joe Barry defense is to keep everything in front of them, however, pass catchers are being given way too much space to operate within as they often run their routes freely close to or even at the first down marker.
— As I wrote earlier in the week, pressuring Kirk Cousins was going to be a must in this game. Even in doing so, there is no guarantee that it will disrupt him enough given how well he has handled pressure. But if Cousins has time, he will often pick defenses apart. As has been the case for much of the season, the pass rush wasn’t consistent enough to disrupt Cousins and get him off his spot. Cousins put together a very efficient performance and handled well the pressure that did occur.
— The Packers have been willing to blitz this season, but they just do not get home when doing so. With time in the pocket still, opposing quarterbacks now have one less defender in coverage to worry about.
— Vikings rookie receiver Jordan Addison had an impressive day. The Packers, including Jaire Alexander, were struggling to contain him. KJ Osborn also had nearly 100 receiving yards. There weren’t any deep throws given up by the defense, but a lot of intermediate completions with YAC opportunities.
— For what it’s worth, this was the run defense’s best performance of the season. Not that the Vikings have a dominant run game, averaging just 3.9 yards per rush coming into the game, but the Packers did a really good job bottling up the middle of the field and limiting Minnesota’s ability to move the ball in that regard. TJ Slaton had several really nice plays against the run.
— In the first half the Packers made a change on the offensive line, putting in Yosh Nijman at left tackle for Rasheed Walker. In the first quarter alone, Walker had already surrendered a sack and been called for a penalty—although he was back on the field for Green Bay’s final drive with Nijman dealing with a foot injury. The Packers running backs averaged fewer than 4.0 yards per rush, and because they were trailing and often behind the sticks, they were never truly able to lean on it. While not perfect, I did think the offensive line held its own against the blitz.
— Things for the offense aren’t going to improve until they are able to find some sort of success pushing the ball downfield. One a third-and-eight in the first half, the Packers were four-wide on an obvious passing down, and Minnesota was in cover-1 and their cornerbacks were pressing the Green Bay receivers. Opponents do not fear the Packers downfield passing game, which makes moving the ball over the middle and on short area throws all the more challenging.
— Matt LaFleur spoke earlier in the week about the need for the defense to generate more takeaways. The Packers entered the game ranked 28th in takeaways with only five. Turnovers lead to additional possession(s) for the offense and often improved field position. Quay Walker had a prime opportunity on the opening drive to come away with an interception but failed to do so. It’s not often that the Green Bay defenders seems to be in a position to even make a play on the ball. Credit to the defense for coming away with a fumble late in the game, but the offense was unable to capitalize.