GREEN BAY – Head Coach Matt LaFleur couldn't have been happier to see his defense rise up with consecutive sacks on Jacksonville's final drive Sunday to help preserve the Packers' 24-20 win.
But it left him wondering where that intensity had been all afternoon at Lambeau Field, and he spent most of his postgame news conference expressing his dismay at an otherwise listless performance.
"I felt like that was the first time our team came alive," LaFleur said of the final sequence, which featured back-to-back sacks by Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, followed by a stop on fourth-and-26. "You could feel it on the sidelines (with) everybody rooting for one another. We need that from the opening kick. That's the standard. We can't just pick and choose when we want to do that."
Doing it at the end of the game was good enough, barely, on this particular Sunday, but it's not going to cut it against better teams, and LaFleur knows it.
"Yeah, the game's on the line, so it's easy to get up for that," he said. "We have got to do a better job from before we start the game to show that kind of energy, show that kind of emotion, show that kind of support for one another that we saw at the end of the game. And if we don't get that, we're not going to be at our best."
What unfolded as a one-win Jaguars team nearly pulled the upset of the NFL season at an empty Lambeau Field was particularly concerning because two weeks ago, following Green Bay's previous home game, the postgame comments were much the same.
Then possessing just one win, the division rival Minnesota Vikings came into Lambeau and took it to the Packers, leaving with a victory that was more convincing than the 28-22 final score.
The lackluster showings at home are now a pattern, and the Packers have to do something about them.
LaFleur didn't blame anyone in particular but everybody in particular – himself, the rest of the coaching staff, the players. The only thing he couldn't blame was the fans, because they're not allowed to attend, and that's something the Packers don't seem to have adjusted to very well.
It's not out of bounds to say it goes back to the home opener vs. Detroit in Week 2, when the Lions jumped on top 14-3 in the early going. The Packers recovered then and ran away with the game, but they were in scramble mode down the stretch in these last two home games and were fortunate to split them.
The biggest question, of course, is why are they not fired up to play start to finish?
"Well, if I knew, it definitely wouldn't be a problem, right?" LaFleur said. "I've got to do some investigating, obviously. And look at myself first. But that wasn't good enough, there's no doubt about it. In terms of just the energy, the passion.
"We're playing football. These guys are playing a kids' game, and getting paid for it, man. It's disturbing to me. And it starts with myself and our staff. We've got to bring more energy for these guys."
The Green Bay Packers and Jacksonville Jaguars faced off in a Week 10 matchup at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020.
The Packers have four home games left in the regular season, with designs on hopefully playing at home in the postseason, fans or no fans. Aaron Rodgers even said after the game the winter weather in January should be an advantage for the Packers if they can play at home, whether or not the pandemic will allow any fans to attend.
And he's right. Late in the year, the Packers get the opportunity to practice in the winter weather and many of their opponents do not. The weather was a wash (no pun intended) Sunday, in part because neither team was practiced in a wet drizzle and heavy winds.
The "regular" winter weather should make a difference for the Packers, and assuming they stay in the playoff hunt, they'll get a chance to test that theory with two southern teams – Carolina and Tennessee – coming to Lambeau Field in December.
But they have two other home games against northern teams – Chicago and Philadelphia – before that to rectify the Lambeau lull the team has been in.
The Packers should have no trouble getting up for a tough Colts team on the road next week, but win or lose, their upcoming performances at Lambeau may determine more than anything where this season is headed.
"We will challenge everybody in this organization that's a part of this football team to bring more emotion," LaFleur said. "You can't take these opportunities for granted."