The Green Bay Packers continue to struggle in all phases of the game and lost their fourth straight, 24-10 to the Minnesota Vikings. Preston Smith had two sacks and made some big plays, but the Packers continued to make too many mistakes to win. Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers loss to the Vikings:
First Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Offense Floundered in the First Half Again
The Packers offense continued to struggle in the first half of games. The Packers had only 97 total yards in the first 30 minutes and picked up five first downs. The team’s first four drives were all three-and-outs and gained six net yards when you add in penalties and losses.
Their final drive resulted in a field goal but only after an offsides penalty on the Vikings gave Anders Carlson a second chance after he missed the first attempt.
Matt LaFleur seems unable to call plays that can get this team in any kind of rhythm. Or the inexperienced offensive players are having difficulty executing the game plan.
The problem is a combination of those two factors. This needs to be corrected if the Green Bay offense is going to improve in the second half of the season.
Second Thing We Learned: Penalties Continue to Plague the Packers
Penalties continue to be a major problem for the Packers. The Pack committed 11 penalties for 99 yards in the game. In the first half alone, the Pack was guilty of eight infractions for 69 yards.
The Vikings picked up four first downs by penalty. A roughing the passer call against Rashan Gary, for example, allowed Minnesota to continue a drive after the Packers had forced a punt.
Penalties also disrupted too many offensive drives and created too many long-yardage situations that this inexperienced offense couldn’t overcome.
Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Packers Couldn’t Get Off the Field on Third Downs
The Packers defense struggled badly on third and fourth downs. For the game, the Vikings went 11-for-19 on third and fourth down conversions for a success rate of almost 58 percent.
The Packers defense created many third-and-long situations but couldn’t get off the field after they did. The Vikings converted eight third downs of eight-or-more yards.
Joe Barry’s defense was too passive on third-and-long and failed to stop Kirk Cousins and K.J. Osborn, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson who all had productive games against the Packers.
Jaire Alexander continues to struggle as he plays through a back injury. The Packers safeties also had problems in coverage.
Fourth Thing We Learned: Preston Smith Had a Strong Game
One of the few highlights of the game was the strong play of edge rusher Preston Smith. The Mississippi State alum recorded two sacks and four quarterback hits. He also broke up a pass at the goal line, forced a fumble and had a tackle for loss.
Smith was the best player on the Green Bay defense and made some big plays for a unit that didn’t have enough of them.
Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Packers Offense Struggled in the Red Zone
Green Bay’s offense had plenty of chances in the fourth quarter to get back in the game. The Packers trailed 24-10 and had the ball in Vikings territory three times including two drives that started at the Minnesota 15. They scored no points.
Overall, the Packers were 1-for-4 in the red zone. That’s not going to earn you too many wins unless you make big plays.
The team’s inexperienced quarterback and receivers are unable to do the little things that are needed to consistently convert in the red zone.
Sixth Thing We Learned: Christian Watson Is Struggling
Wide receiver Christian Watson continues to struggle. He caught three passes on eight targets. In the red zone, he mistimed his jump on one pass which he could not come down with.
He also has not been able to use his size to box out defenders and draw pass interference calls. He also needs to do a better job fighting for contested catches.
Watson’s injuries have slowed his progress. The missed practice time has hindered his ability to learn the little things receivers need to master to shine in the NFL. He needs another strong finish to the season to make progress in his career.
Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Packers Run Defense Did Well
The Packers much-maligned run defense did a good job against the Vikings. They did allow Minnesota to score its first rushing touchdown of the season, but overall, they effectively stopped the running game.
The Vikings ran the ball 31 times for just 62 yards, an average of just two yards per carry. Minnesota’s long run was only 10 yards.
The Packers defense did a better job stopping the run. Those stops forced the third-and-long situations for the Vikings, but the defense couldn’t stop those plays consistently.
Eighth Thing We Learned: Jayden Reed Is Showing Promise
Rookie second-round pick Jayden Reed made some big plays and continues to show promise. The Michigan State alum caught four passes for 83 yards on six targets. Two of his catches were for more than 30 yards including a game-high 34-yard gain.
Reed presently has six catches of 30 or more yards this season despite playing just 57 percent of the team’s offensive snaps through the first six games. He has only two dropped passes according to pro-football-reference.com and is showing promise as a downfield weapon for this team.
Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Jordan Love Continues to Struggle
Jordan Love continues to struggle with his consistency. Love isn’t alone, the players around him are making a lot of mistakes and not helping his cause. But Love hasn’t always made accurate passes and he hasn’t always made great decisions.
He threw one interception and almost threw a second. He finished the game by completing 24-of-41 passes for 229 yards, one touchdown and one interception. That gives him a passer rating of 72.1.
Love tried to run for a first down on 4th-and-16 and came up a yard short. He forced passes and threw into double coverage too frequently.
His teammates didn’t help with dropped passes, poor protection, poor route running and a lack of a rushing attack.
Love needs to be more consistent and make better decisions but getting him more time to throw and more reliable receivers would certainly help his cause.
Tenth Thing We Learned: The Packers Offensive Line Struggled Again
The offensive line failed to protect Love consistently. He was sacked four times and hit seven others. The Packers quarterback often lacked the time to throw.
Zach Tom was beaten badly on one sack although he has been the best offensive lineman on the team thus far.
This unit needs to do a better job of picking up blitzes and stunts and blocking for the run.
It is difficult for an offense to run smoothly without a solid performance by the offensive line.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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