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Packers get 'reality check' up front

LaFleur reviews offensive line, defensive letdown, injuries

Offensive huddle
Offensive huddle

GREEN BAY – The old adage in football about how everything starts up front is old for a reason.

As Head Coach Matt LaFleur detailed Monday what wasn't working offensively in the loss to the Jets, one comment in particular served as the most straightforward explanation, and echoed a similar thought he shared immediately after the game.

"If we don't block better, it's hard to do anything," LaFleur said. "And I think that was the No. 1 issue yesterday."

The Packers' offensive line struggled so much with the Jets' stunts, twists and blitzes up front that discussions from previous weeks about run-pass ratio and touches for this player or that were irrelevant.

That unit is a prideful one that has a longstanding track record of exemplary play, despite injuries, adversity, tough assignments, you name it. Hence, the poor showing stood out because it's frankly so rare.

No one felt good reviewing the game film Monday, but swallowing the bad taste is part of the process and the first step in resetting where the group goes from here.

"The whole entire game we never matched their intensity and it showed," said guard Jon Runyan, who called Sunday's game the worst of his career personally. "This was a reality check for us up front and we're going to keep pushing. We're not giving up."

Personnel changes could be afoot. Jake Hanson subbed in for Royce Newman at right guard late in the first half but then injured a bicep, so Newman went back in. LaFleur reiterated "everything's up for discussion" regarding whether Elgton Jenkins, who had three penalties (two holding, one false start) at right tackle, might be moved back to guard.

The Packers averaged just 3.0 yards per carry on the ground, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers took nine hits, getting sacked four times. On nine of the first 10 possessions, the offense produced one or zero first downs.

"There were many examples of where all 11 guys weren't on the same page with some mental errors," LaFleur said. "That's what's so discouraging. But I think it's also encouraging at the same time because these are all correctible mistakes.

"Now we've got to be diligent in how we go about it and have a sense of urgency in getting this stuff corrected. Otherwise, I'll be singing this same song next week."

As for Green Bay's defense, the Jets were having as much trouble offensively as the Packers were until midway through the third quarter, when some explosive gains tilted the game strongly in New York's favor.

The defense proceeded to allow 200 yards in a span of three possessions after holding the Jets to just a field goal over their first eight drives. It was a disappointing turn of events, but LaFleur placed more blame on the offense for not doing its part and asking the defense to carry the team.

"There's so much competitive balance in this league, and you can only expect a defense to hold on for so long before the offense is going to hit you on something," he said. "Bottom line is we had to do more from an offensive perspective. I don't think our defense should be in that situation, you know what I'm saying? It was so much.

"Now once they did get a little bit of momentum, that's where we have to be better and try to do whatever we've got to do to refocus the group."

Injury-wise, LaFleur confirmed receiver Randall Cobb avoided a serious ankle injury when he left the game in the second half. But he expects him to be out multiple weeks and he could be headed to injured reserve, which would mean a minimum four-week absence.

Meanwhile fellow receiver Sammy Watkins (hamstring) could be getting close to returning from his IR stint. LaFleur suggested he might practice Wednesday, after which he could be reinstated to the active roster at any point over the next few weeks, provided there are no setbacks.