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Did Packers find a way forward in loss to Bills?: NFC North analysis

Well, and Packers didn’t blow up on Sunday Night Football at Buffalo against arguably the best team in the league. So they got it for them. Which is nice.

But moral victories have never been comforting for Packers fans, and why should they? Green Bay has been on top of the NFC North for over a decade and has had massive objective success during Aaron Rodgerstenure — especially Matt Lafleur’s.

That’s why this three-game skid and 3-5 start is so serious for the Packers. They are somehow still reeling from the loss of one player on offense, a player who doesn’t look too happy in his new situation either. But Rogers didn’t just lose the phone Davante Adams, he lost his safety net. That’s the difference.

Coupled with being his other safety net, an old friend Randall Cobbis on VC and Green Bay lost a rookie receiver Christian Watson in the first quarter Sunday, and the Packers are thin at the receiver position, to say the least.

That’s old news, though, even though Watson was supposed to be a big part of Green Bay’s game plan Sunday for the first time in weeks. The Packers haven’t seen much improvement over the course of this season, and after eight weeks, there’s finally some semblance of a step forward.

With an early injury to Watson, Green Bay was forced to ramp up the ground game. This move should have come sooner considering the Packers have one of the best running back tandems in the league Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. It was a long overdue change, and against one of the strongest defenses in the league, Green Bay racked up 208 yards on the ground.

Perhaps to the surprise of some, the Packers kept this game going even though they were down 17 in the second half. It was the right approach, even if it was the wrong time.

And the time the packers did is over. Their only debris-free landing came on a trip that took eight and a half minutes. It was almost arrogant to keep running the ball, never mind that he was working. But with Green Bay’s time eventually coming to an end, it’s fair to wonder if this was a permanent change in the Packers’ offensive approach, or if it was simply a way to try to mitigate the damage done by Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen.

Josh Allen wins the QB duel against Aaron Rodgers

Nick Wright, Chris Broussard, Eric Mangini and Kevin Wilds talk Packers vs. Bills.

Every week Green Bay seems to find something that works while another aspect of his game goes to hell. This time in prime time – discipline. The Packers had eight penalties for 58 penalty yards. Discipline also cost them one of their starters on defense when they were rookies Quay Walker shoved a Bills employee on the sideline who was trying to help him up after Walker fell to the Buffalo bench. Later in the game, the Packers were literally stripped of points by tight ends Robert Tonian, who initially thought he had scored in the third quarter, was called for offensive pass interference, which killed the touchdown. Green Bay settled for a field goal on the drive.

Security Rasul Douglas also gifted Buffalo with a new set of downs thanks to an illegal handing penalty on third-and-10. (He made up for it a few plays later by intercepting Allen.)

As for the second step back, it’s one that has plagued the Packers all season: fourth down. On the first drive of the game, no doubt to try to set the tone, Green Bay went for it on fourth down at the Buffalo 38. The Packers didn’t get it. They would go for it on fourth down one more time in the game, and you won’t be shocked to learn they didn’t get it either. Green Bay ranks fourth this season with a two-to-11 conversion rate, the worst conversion rate in the league.

After the game, both Lafleur and Rodgers talked about those two steps back the most. Rodgers said he felt he needed to “take a hit” before facing the team. He said he would have more words of wisdom on Wednesday and that he would have the necessary conversations behind closed doors.

“Let me reflect on that and feel the energy of what needs to be said,” he told reporters after the game.

For all the disappointment, it’s hard to imagine the Packers can keep it up. They started to sort things out. The rookie wide receiver Romeo Dub had his best game as a Packer, catching (and holding) a 19-yard touchdown pass. Samory Toureyoung player from Nebraska, scoring his first career touchdown on a 37-yard bomb from Rodgers. The offense moved the ball behind Jones and Dillon and made the necessary throws that their young players responded to.

Now we wait to see if they continue this trend and if they can fix other bugs. Because if they do, they might just turn it around.

On the topic: The NFC North-leading Vikings are changing the narrative in close games

Justin Fields Finds rhythm in loss to Dallas

no, Chicago Bears didn’t come out of Dallas with a win over Cowboys. In fact, they lost by a pretty big score 49-29, but there was encouragement from Chicago in the form of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields was determined, efficient and finished with a respectable 17-of-23 stat line for 151 yards and two touchdowns for a career-high 120.0 passer rating. He also rushed eight times for 60 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Fields did get sacked four times, but with the best pass rush in the league, that was to be expected.

In fact, he set several career firsts in the game. It was his first time scoring rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games. Fields also had four consecutive games with a passing touchdown for the first time. It was also the first time in his career that he threw three touchdowns in a game.

Sure, it’s not much in the grand scheme of good quarterback play, but it’s a tangible improvement. It’s everything you’d expect from a young defender learning a new attacking system with shuffling pieces around him. Fields hasn’t had continuity along the line of scrimmage or in the form of receivers, but at least he has a running game to lean on.

The Bears continue to stick with it, knowing it’s their strength on offense until Fields actually takes the field. But the corner Fields has to turn may be closer than we thought.

“I think everybody is getting more and more comfortable as we game plan and put plays together,” Fields said after the game. “Luke [Getsy] and our offensive coaches have done a great job of figuring out what we do well as an offense, what each player does individually well. We’re figuring it out, and I think that’s a credit to our success.”

Who knew it would take a while?

Lions Drop Another Close One

I feel like I say this every week, but poor people Detroit Lions. They have played five one-score games and are 1-4 in such contests. It was the story of another week against Miami Dolphins on Sunday at home. This time it was even more impressive, because at one point Detroit had a 14-point lead. The Dolphins didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter, leaving the Lions plenty of time to regain the lead, in theory.

Only they didn’t. The defense didn’t give up another point, but the offense, once the league’s highest-scoring unit, didn’t either, and the Lions dropped a heartbreaker, 31-27.

The Lions fired their defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant on Monday. Detroit ranks last in passing yards per game this season.

It’s not likely to produce immediate results, but it was a move to signal that head coach Dan Campbell is in high spirits and that while the players, coaches and fans may like his general demeanor, they also need results.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen previously appeared with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added a Super Bowl title (and boat parade participant) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


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Did Packers find a way forward in loss to Bills?: NFC North analysis

Well, and Packers didn’t blow up on Sunday Night Football at Buffalo against arguably the best team in the league. So they got it for them. Which is nice.

But moral victories have never been comforting for Packers fans, and why should they? Green Bay has been on top of the NFC North for over a decade and has had massive objective success during Aaron Rodgerstenure — especially Matt Lafleur’s.

That’s why this three-game skid and 3-5 start is so serious for the Packers. They are somehow still reeling from the loss of one player on offense, a player who doesn’t look too happy in his new situation either. But Rogers didn’t just lose the phone Davante Adams, he lost his safety net. That’s the difference.

Coupled with being his other safety net, an old friend Randall Cobbis on VC and Green Bay lost a rookie receiver Christian Watson in the first quarter Sunday, and the Packers are thin at the receiver position, to say the least.

That’s old news, though, even though Watson was supposed to be a big part of Green Bay’s game plan Sunday for the first time in weeks. The Packers haven’t seen much improvement over the course of this season, and after eight weeks, there’s finally some semblance of a step forward.

With an early injury to Watson, Green Bay was forced to ramp up the ground game. This move should have come sooner considering the Packers have one of the best running back tandems in the league Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. It was a long overdue change, and against one of the strongest defenses in the league, Green Bay racked up 208 yards on the ground.

Perhaps to the surprise of some, the Packers kept this game going even though they were down 17 in the second half. It was the right approach, even if it was the wrong time.

And the time the packers did is over. Their only debris-free landing came on a trip that took eight and a half minutes. It was almost arrogant to keep running the ball, never mind that he was working. But with Green Bay’s time eventually coming to an end, it’s fair to wonder if this was a permanent change in the Packers’ offensive approach, or if it was simply a way to try to mitigate the damage done by Buffalo’s quarterback Josh Allen.

Josh Allen wins the QB duel against Aaron Rodgers

Nick Wright, Chris Broussard, Eric Mangini and Kevin Wilds talk Packers vs. Bills.

Every week Green Bay seems to find something that works while another aspect of his game goes to hell. This time in prime time – discipline. The Packers had eight penalties for 58 penalty yards. Discipline also cost them one of their starters on defense when they were rookies Quay Walker shoved a Bills employee on the sideline who was trying to help him up after Walker fell to the Buffalo bench. Later in the game, the Packers were literally stripped of points by tight ends Robert Tonian, who initially thought he had scored in the third quarter, was called for offensive pass interference, which killed the touchdown. Green Bay settled for a field goal on the drive.

Security Rasul Douglas also gifted Buffalo with a new set of downs thanks to an illegal handing penalty on third-and-10. (He made up for it a few plays later by intercepting Allen.)

As for the second step back, it’s one that has plagued the Packers all season: fourth down. On the first drive of the game, no doubt to try to set the tone, Green Bay went for it on fourth down at the Buffalo 38. The Packers didn’t get it. They would go for it on fourth down one more time in the game, and you won’t be shocked to learn they didn’t get it either. Green Bay ranks fourth this season with a two-to-11 conversion rate, the worst conversion rate in the league.

After the game, both Lafleur and Rodgers talked about those two steps back the most. Rodgers said he felt he needed to “take a hit” before facing the team. He said he would have more words of wisdom on Wednesday and that he would have the necessary conversations behind closed doors.

“Let me reflect on that and feel the energy of what needs to be said,” he told reporters after the game.

For all the disappointment, it’s hard to imagine the Packers can keep it up. They started to sort things out. The rookie wide receiver Romeo Dub had his best game as a Packer, catching (and holding) a 19-yard touchdown pass. Samory Toureyoung player from Nebraska, scoring his first career touchdown on a 37-yard bomb from Rodgers. The offense moved the ball behind Jones and Dillon and made the necessary throws that their young players responded to.

Now we wait to see if they continue this trend and if they can fix other bugs. Because if they do, they might just turn it around.

On the topic: The NFC North-leading Vikings are changing the narrative in close games

Justin Fields Finds rhythm in loss to Dallas

no, Chicago Bears didn’t come out of Dallas with a win over Cowboys. In fact, they lost by a pretty big score 49-29, but there was encouragement from Chicago in the form of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields.

Fields was determined, efficient and finished with a respectable 17-of-23 stat line for 151 yards and two touchdowns for a career-high 120.0 passer rating. He also rushed eight times for 60 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Fields did get sacked four times, but with the best pass rush in the league, that was to be expected.

In fact, he set several career firsts in the game. It was his first time scoring rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games. Fields also had four consecutive games with a passing touchdown for the first time. It was also the first time in his career that he threw three touchdowns in a game.

Sure, it’s not much in the grand scheme of good quarterback play, but it’s a tangible improvement. It’s everything you’d expect from a young defender learning a new attacking system with shuffling pieces around him. Fields hasn’t had continuity along the line of scrimmage or in the form of receivers, but at least he has a running game to lean on.

The Bears continue to stick with it, knowing it’s their strength on offense until Fields actually takes the field. But the corner Fields has to turn may be closer than we thought.

“I think everybody is getting more and more comfortable as we game plan and put plays together,” Fields said after the game. “Luke [Getsy] and our offensive coaches have done a great job of figuring out what we do well as an offense, what each player does individually well. We’re figuring it out, and I think that’s a credit to our success.”

Who knew it would take a while?

Lions Drop Another Close One

I feel like I say this every week, but poor people Detroit Lions. They have played five one-score games and are 1-4 in such contests. It was the story of another week against Miami Dolphins on Sunday at home. This time it was even more impressive, because at one point Detroit had a 14-point lead. The Dolphins didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter, leaving the Lions plenty of time to regain the lead, in theory.

Only they didn’t. The defense didn’t give up another point, but the offense, once the league’s highest-scoring unit, didn’t either, and the Lions dropped a heartbreaker, 31-27.

The Lions fired their defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant on Monday. Detroit ranks last in passing yards per game this season.

It’s not likely to produce immediate results, but it was a move to signal that head coach Dan Campbell is in high spirits and that while the players, coaches and fans may like his general demeanor, they also need results.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen previously appeared with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added a Super Bowl title (and boat parade participant) to her resume. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV.


Get more from the National Football League Follow your favorites to stay updated on games, news and more





Reported by Source link

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