GREEN BAY – The progress is there. No denying that.
And it's not just because Packers quarterback Jordan Love recorded his first career 300-yard passing game in Sunday's 23-20 victory over the Chargers at Lambeau Field.
The 300-yard outing is Green Bay's first in nearly two calendar years, dating back to Aaron Rodgers in mid-December 2021.
But there's more to it.
It's because for the first time since the comeback against the Saints back in Week 3, when the Packers' offense needed a touchdown at crunch time, it got one.
It's because Love looked in command, taking advantage of the LA defense being a bit out of sorts, hurrying up to get the snap off, and making the Chargers pay.
It's because Romeo Doubs made absolutely sure he was coming down with that ball for the 24-yard score, plucking it out of the air to keep it away from cornerback Michael Davis in the end zone and not letting him get a hand on it.
"There was definitely a mentality and you could see it right there," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. "He went and snatched that ball."
It's because Love's other second-half TD pass that preceded the game-winner, a beautiful touch throw to Christian Watson in the back of the end zone, came on a play not in the game plan.
LaFleur and tight ends coach John Dunn collaborated on an idea based on a defensive look the Chargers had given earlier on that drive. They dialed it up in the red zone, and the young guys executed it with aplomb.
"It was a great job by Christian just hauling ass across the field and Jordan made a good throw," LaFleur said.
So there are plenty of reasons to feel encouraged by where this Packers offense is headed. Getting a win, to boot, always helps.
But once again, this was also no masterpiece.
Check out photos from the Week 11 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Los Angeles Chargers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 19, 2023.
Third-and-1 at the LA 49-yard line on the opening drive of the game became a turnover on downs at the Green Bay 49. One potential scoring drive that reached the LA 23 went backwards 11 yards and resulted in a missed 52-yard field goal. Another that reached the LA 34 went from second-and-2 to fourth-and-17 and a punt. The offense's late-game three-and-out included a third-down play call LaFleur admittedly wanted back.
Fortunately, the Chargers' numerous miscues on offense, mostly in the form of dropped passes, proved even more costly. So the Packers' collective psyche enters these next two games against division leaders – the NFC North's Detroit Lions and the AFC West's Kansas City Chiefs – in a better state.
"It helps these guys believe that they can find a way to do it," LaFleur said. "So that's always rewarding."
It sure is. Nothing's come easy for this team all season, amidst a seemingly never-ending list of injuries to go with so much youth on offense and digging far into the depth chart on defense.
Optimism is warranted, though, especially on offense. The Packers followed up 399 total yards last week with 397 this week. They held steady going from 8-of-16 on third down to 7-of-14. From six explosive gains of 28 yards or more, to six of 24 or more.
"I think we're in a really good spot right now," Love said. "We just have to keep building on it.
"I like the trajectory the offense is going right now for sure."
So does LaFleur, but it's all about what's next.
"As soon as you start feeling good about yourself you usually get knocked off," he said. "You've got to hit the reset button win, lose or draw, and go back to the drawing board and prepare the right way.
"Because this league has a way of humbling you."
The Packers certainly have felt that plenty of times this season. Every time, they've shaken it off and forged ahead.
After a wild rollercoaster of a game and on a short week, they'll be doing the same again.
"I think these guys are bought in," LaFleur said. "I see it in their actions and how they go out and compete. They're giving us everything they have."