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Packers still searching for answers to offensive rollercoaster vs. Bucs

Better tackling key to defense’s strong outing

Head Coach Matt LaFleur
Head Coach Matt LaFleur

GREEN BAY – One day later, Head Coach Matt LaFleur hadn't really gotten to the bottom of his offense's Jekyll-and-Hyde performance against Tampa Bay.

Then again, if what went wrong were that easy to figure out, he most certainly would've been able to turn things back around sometime over eight consecutive fruitless possessions.

As LaFleur tried to explain Monday how the Packers could march up and down the field on the Buccaneers for three straight drives and then suddenly hit the skids the rest of the game, he touched on a number of reasons.

First and foremost was Tampa Bay cranking up its aggressiveness on defense. But he also felt after reviewing the film, the Packers were just a missed block here or there from some potential big gains.

"But that's how it always is," he said.

He also mentioned perhaps trying to run the ball out of the shotgun too much, when the running game under center was more effective.

Then again, the game plan was full of "run alerts," on which quarterback Aaron Rodgers fires a quick horizontal throw on a running play when the defense shows an overloaded front, which the Buccaneers do frequently. To have that option as a counter to the defensive look, Rodgers has to be in the gun.

Further, he talked about Rodgers being rushed to take short throws on third down by Tampa Bay's pressure, and not getting to some other pass concepts in the game plan that might've been worth a try.

All in all, he called it a "collective effort … from coaching to execution" for the struggles. What's indisputable is how maddening it was.

"We were just a little bit off," LaFleur said. "It's crazy how momentum plays such a part in it, and you sit there and you're like, 'Alright, we can stop this. We can get this going again.' And it just, for whatever reason, it didn't materialize the rest of the game.

"And you want to talk about frustrating. You're sitting there scratching your head, what can we call to kind of jumpstart this thing?"

Most frustrating is the offense had the ball in Tampa Bay territory three times over those eight drives but still couldn't produce any points when just one field goal would've made it a two-score game.

But the defense and special teams held up their end to eke out the win, and a big step forward defensively from the previous week was with the tackling. The Packers cut back on their missed tackles from the Chicago game, particularly against the run in holding Bucs back Leonard Fournette to just 2.9 yards per carry (12 rushes, 35 yards).

"Definitely a different style of run scheme but I thought our guys, for the most part, we played pretty physical," LaFleur said. "We knew it was going to be a physical game and kind of controlled the line of scrimmage from a defensive standpoint."

He also felt a heavy rotation of players kept guys fresh throughout in the brutal heat, allowing for "max effort" despite the conditions. The film showed defenders flying to the ball from all angles, which was the direct cause of the first fumble the defense forced on a reception over the middle.

The defense got beat on the final drive by Tom Brady, as he's done throughout his Hall of Fame career, but stopped the two-point conversion to preserve the win.

As the offensive mastermind and play caller, though, LaFleur knows the game shouldn't have come down to that. The offense can't let dynamite outings by the other two phases come so close to going for naught.

"I'd rather make the corrections after a win," he said, "and we'll do exactly that and then we'll be on to New England."