Rapid reaction: Packers on 'too bumpy' a ride every week

Individually and collectively, any measure of consistency remains elusive

QB Jordan Love

GREEN BAY – Packers QB Jordan Love provided a rather honest, straightforward assessment of his play seven games into his first season as the starter.

"Obviously not good enough," Love said Sunday, shortly after the Packers fell to 2-5 with a fourth straight loss, this one 24-10 to the Vikings at Lambeau Field. "Myself, it's too bumpy right now.

"I need to find consistency in my play where I'm able to make every play, go to the right place with the ball on every play, and it's gotta be more consistent from me and I think that's where I'm lacking right now."

Everything he said is true, and everything he said also applies to all his offensive teammates, which Love tacitly acknowledged as well.

"It's on everybody," he said. "I think everybody on offense would say the exact same thing."

And therein lies the rut the Packers can't seem to escape.

Inconsistency is plaguing every spot across the board, and when all it takes is one miscue by somebody – anybody – to put the team in a tough position, eventually there are too many tough positions to overcome.

Take the drive midway through the fourth quarter, the Packers' first chance to get back within one score of the Vikings. There were multiple examples just within a span of a few plays.

The drive, which began on the Green Bay 44-yard line following a blocked field goal, started with Love throwing a dart to receiver Christian Watson over the middle that gained 17 yards and a first down. Smooth, crisp, productive.

Then on the very next play, receiver Romeo Doubs is wide open across the far hash near the Minnesota sideline for what looked like a free 10 yards. But Love's throw comes up short, incomplete.

Two plays later, Love makes an impressive play while getting dragged down by the leg on third-and-7, firing the ball over the middle to rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks, who hauls it in for 11 yards and a huge conversion.

But three snaps after that, on second-and-5 from the Minnesota 10-yard line, Wicks drops a slant pass that hits him right in the hands near the goal line. It's either first-and-goal or maybe a touchdown with a catch, because the underneath coverage was soft. Instead it's neither, and two plays later the drive stalls out.

Inconsistency from one player here, another there, and the Packers can't overcome it every time.

Those are just two instances from one key drive, not meant to single out Love and Wicks. The same could be said for other pass catchers, or linemen, or running backs when it comes to productive plays mixed with miscues or penalties.

Rookie receiver Jayden Reed led the offense with 83 yards receiving, on four catches, but he also had a big gainer in his hands down the middle that Vikings safety Josh Metellus simply stole from him for an interception. Again, just another example.

"I say this every week in terms of, there's going to be a couple plays that you want back," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said, speaking of Love. "But also we've got to make some plays for him, too."

It's been the story of the season that Love, a young QB himself, is surrounded by youth, but LaFleur has already grown tired of the youth storyline in late October.

It likely is the reason for the massive inconsistencies, but that doesn't make it acceptable after seven games, which is more than half a college season.

"We're not even talking that game, (the) young guys' game," LaFleur said. "We're focused on just whoever's out there, the expectation is the same.

"I'm not interested in that. I think that's an excuse. We'll never do that … But we're not obviously getting the results that anybody wants."

Check out photos from the Week 8 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2023.

Most vexing if not maddening to LaFleur is the repeated slow starts offensively rendering much of the week's practice and preparation an afterthought, because the team is constantly in catch-up mode.

The Packers have been outscored 73-9 in the first halves of their last five games. On Sunday, it took until their fifth possession of the game to get their initial first down, with 3½ minutes left in the half.

"We've got to find a way to convert a third down early in the game so you can run your offense," LaFleur said. "We're running 2-minute offense for half the game. So you don't even get into what your work on all week and what you plan for. You can't even get into your normal rhythm because you're not moving the chains.

"So that's what's disappointing. You put all this time and effort into something, you come up with a plan and you don't even give yourself a chance to go execute it. We're playing 2-minute ball the whole second half."

That's as hit or miss as anything else, and thus far it's only led to chances, not wins. Love said afterward he doesn't feel anybody losing confidence, but it's an open question who's going to step forward to make the plays needed.

Just as the struggles don't fall on one guy, no one guy can be the savior, either. Love added he feels like the offense is "right there," but that has a so-close-yet-so-far vibe when the results have been the same for a month's worth of games.

"It's right back to work, but the urgency definitely has to be there," Love said of the upcoming week of practice. "We're gonna continue to push guys. Leaders on offense, we push each other every day. We push everybody on the team. Coaches push us. It's definitely not a lack of leadership.

"I think it's just, we gotta find that urgency. We gotta understand that every play has gotta be the best play of our game. We can't have these little mistakes that are hurting us and just be like, 'We'll find it on the next play,' or 'We'll find it the next drive.' We gotta take advantage of every opportunity we have."

That sounds like a young offense putting a lot of pressure on itself, which may or may not be a good thing. But if that hasn't been the mindset to this point, it's definitely worth a try, because something has to change.


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