The Green Bay Packers defense gave up 452 yards and were unable to make key stops in a 34-20 home loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Dontayvion Wicks played well for the Packers while Jordan Love threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns in a losing effort.  Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 34-20 loss to the Bucs.

First Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Defense Was Porous

The Packers defense had trouble stopping anybody in this game. In addition to allowing 452 yards, the defense forced Tampa Bay to punt just once all game and created only one turnover.

The Packers played a lot of zone defenses and didn’t play effectively. Whenever Baker Mayfield had time to throw, he dissected the zone like an expert surgeon.

Defensive coordinator Joe Barry again seemed unable to adjust when his initial plan wasn’t working, and the result was an easy 34 points for the Bucs and a loss for the Packers.

Second Thing We Learned: Dontayvion Wicks Made Big Plays

One of the highlights for the Packers offense was the play of Wicks. The Packers weren’t even sure if the rookie would be able to play due to an ankle injury, but the Virginia alum not only available but played well.

Wicks caught six passes on seven targets for a team-high 97 yards. He also proved to be difficult to bring down as he kept picking up yards after contact on several plays.

Wicks continues to develop into a dangerous weapon and is the Packers best downfield threat when Christian Watson is out of the lineup.

Third Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Bucs Offense Dominated On 3rd Down

The Packers defense had difficulty stopping Tampa Bay on third and fourth downs. Tampa Bay went 7-of-11 on third down conversions and converted their only fourth down attempt. That means on key plays when drives were on the line, the Bucs succeeded 67 percent of the time.

This failure to get stops at key times made a big difference in the ultimate outcome of the game.

Fourth Thing We Learned: Aaron Jones Big Early, Then Forgotten

This game marked the return of running back Aaron Jones to the Packers lineup. Jones hasn’t played since suffering a knee injury against the Chargers four weeks ago. With A.J. Dillon out due to a broken thumb, Jones’ return became even more important.

But head coach Matt LaFleur used Jones oddly in this game, especially if the UTEP alum was on a play count. On the Packers opening drive, Jones carried seven times for 43 yards. He had an immediate impact on the offense and helped the team reach the Tampa Bay four-yard line. There, the Packers failed to convert on fourth down and came away with no points.

For the rest of the game, Jones only carried six more times and 10 yards and caught four passes for 16 yards.

If Jones was going to see limited action, it made little sense to use him so extensively on the opening drive. If he wasn’t on a play count, it was a mistake to hardly use him for the rest of the game, especially when he was so effective on the opening drive.

The other Packers running backs carried the ball just two times for six yards with Patrick Taylor and Kenyan Drake each getting one carry.

LaFleur again abandoned the running game after the first drive which wasn’t the best game plan for the Packers.

Fifth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: The Packers Came Away Empty on their Opening Drive

The Packers opening drive was a strong one. The Packers started at their own 25 and drove 71 yards on 11 plays and took 6:37 off the clock. They were already trailing 3-0 after the Bucs scored a field goal on their first drive of the game.

Eight of the Packers 11 plays were runs with just three passes mixed in. But faced with 4th-and-2 at the Tampa Bay four, LaFleur decided to go for it rather than try a chip-shot field goal.

Love attempted a pass to Jayden Reed, but it was off the mark and the Packers turned the ball over on downs.

LaFleur could have taken the easy field goal but did not. He also abandoned the run after it was so successful on the opening drive.

Sixth Thing We Learned: Kingsley Enagbare Came Up Big

Kingsley Enagbare came through with one of the few big plays the defense made all game. The second-year man out of South Carolina sacked Mayfield, knocked the ball out of his hand and then recovered the fumble.

The turnover set up the Packers first score of the game, a five-yard pass from Love to tight end Tucker Kraft.

Enagbare made his first sack since the Packers loss to the Raiders in October.

Unfortunately, this was the only turnover the Packers forced all game and the lack of big plays by the defense was costly especially because the defense couldn’t stop the Bucs all game long.

Seventh Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Kenny Clark Had a Good Game

Defensive lineman Kenny Clark was one of the few Packers defensive players who had a good game against Tampa Bay.

Clark finished the game with two sacks, two tackles for loss and knocked down one pass.

The former UCLA star usually plays his best football in December and is doing so again this season.

Eighth Thing We Learned: Tucker Kraft Continues to Develop

Kraft had another productive day. The rookie tight end caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. He also had the longest catch of the game for Green Bay, a 36-yard reception early in the second quarter. That drive culminated with a field goal by Anders Carlson that tied the game at 10-10.

Kraft had just three catches for 11 yards before Luke Musgrave suffered an injury and was placed on IR. He has 14 catches over the last five games for 205 yards and two touchdowns.

Kraft is adept at picking up yards after the catch and continues to develop into a solid weapon for the Green Bay offense.

When Musgrave returns to the lineup, the Packers will potentially have their best receiving duo at tight end since 1996 when Keith Jackson and Mark Chmura were both in the lineup.

Ninth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: There Was No Answer for Mayfield and Chris Godwin

The Packers secondary was missing Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage although they got Eric Stokes back in the lineup.

They had no answer at all for Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin. Godwin caught 10 passes on 12 targets for 155 yards.

Meanwhile, Mayfield had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Mayfield completed 22-of-28 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

The Packers ineffective defense made Mayfield look like a Hall of Fame quarterback. When they didn’t put pressure on him, he picked apart the defense with ease and that was most of the game.

This is the second week in a row the Packers made a non-elite quarterback look like they belonged in Canton.

Tenth Thing We Learned in the Packers Loss: Packers Need to Be Perfect to Have a Chance at the Playoffs

The Packers have now lost two straight games since starting the “easier” part of their schedule and now stand at 6-8 on the season.

They will have to win their remaining three games to have any realistic chance to reach the playoffs. It will take two wins to equal their record of a year ago.

Can the Packers bounce back and make the final three games meaningful? The answer will reveal a lot about this team’s character.



Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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