As expected, the Green Bay Packers are going through growing pains with their young offense. These are resulting in costly mistakes and inconsistency. The Packers are having trouble moving the football downfield, especially early in games.
Head coach Matt LaFleur summed it up best when addressing the press earlier this week. “We all knew there were going to be some growing pains along the way, but I haven’t lost faith or belief in the group that we have,” LaFleur said. “I just think we can do things better. I think we can coach better, and I think we can execute better.”
A look at what happened last Monday against the Raiders illustrates the struggles of the receivers and tight ends on the roster. None of them have more than one season of NFL experience. Each of these are merely examples of mistakes and are not meant to single out these players. Unfortunately, there are plenty of mistakes by multiple players that need to be corrected.
First Mistake by a Packers Young Players: Luke Musgrave
The Packers first drive against the Raiders ended due to a mistake by rookie tight end Luke Musgrave. The Packers faced third-and-three at the Raiders 47. Musgrave ran the wrong pass pattern and Jordan Love’s throw fell incomplete.
LaFleur was clearly upset when Musgrave came off the field and spoke to him. “We have a third-and-3 where we have a busted route and, ironically enough, that’s where the ball should’ve gone is where the route was busted. I mean, listen, Luke is a really good player and he’s going to be a really good player, and it happens.”
Initially, the Packers lined up to go for it on fourth down but tried to draw the Raiders offsides and took a delay of game penalty. Green Bay punted.
Multiple Mistakes by Young Packers Players: Final Drive
The final drive was mistake filled as the Packers tried to make a last-minute comeback to win the game. The Packers had the ball first-and-10 at the Las Vegas 35 with 59 seconds remaining.
On first down, Love threw a short pass to Romeo Doubs near the right sideline. Doubs turned his head too soon and dropped the ball. He was likely to gain at least six or seven yards and had a good chance to get out of bounds to stop the clock.
On the next play, Love threw over the middle to Musgrave. The play would have gained roughly nine yards and would have set up a third-and-short situation. The pass was a half-step behind the receiver but was still very catchable. Musgrave just dropped the ball.
There were multiple mistakes on the play. Musgrave was double covered as the safety collapsed towards the middle of the field. That left Christian Watson in single coverage near the left sideline. Love threw it to Musgrave instead. The ball still should have been caught but was dropped.
Final Mistake by Young Packers Players: Christian Watson on the Final Pass
The final offensive play of the game was full of mistakes by the Packers offense. Watson was the intended receiver. He was open early in the play, but Love was under pressure and had to scramble to his left to avoid it.
Love underthrew Watson in the end zone. There was clearly contact between Watson and Amik Robertson who intercepted the pass. Watson is seven inches taller than Robertson.
After the game, Watson took responsibility for his mistakes and admitted he needed to do more in this game. “My number was called in some crucial situations, and I didn’t make the plays,” he said.
The Packers Seek to Correct Mistakes
There were plenty of mistakes to go around throughout the Raiders game and this season. Love has not always been accurate and needs to improve his decision making. The rookie tight ends have been willing but not very good blockers both in pass protection and blocking for the run. Young receivers have run incorrect routes and failed to hold on to passes. And the play calling has not helped scheme players open enough and to make things easier for these young players.
The Packers now enter their bye week and have time to improve their strategy and execution on offense.
LaFleur remains optimistic. “There’s a lot of good that can come out of adversity if you stay tough-minded and persistent and you don’t let it bring you down,” the coach said. “That’s what I told our guys. I was like, nobody’s feeling sorry for us and if we feel sorry for ourselves, we will regress. But as long as we take that approach like, hey, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and get back to work, then you’ve got a chance to show some progress. That’s what I want to see. I want to see that fight from our team, and I believe that we will.”
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