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Rapid reaction: 'True test' of togetherness, resolve faces Packers now

Toughness required in toughest of times

The Green Bay offense huddles up during Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The Green Bay offense huddles up during Sunday's 19-17 loss to the Denver Broncos.

DENVER – Take your pick as to what ails the Packers most.

Whether the answer is painfully slow starts, agonizing failures in the final minutes, or debilitating penalties at crucial times, none would be wrong.

But at 2-4 with three straight losses and the bye week in the rear-view mirror following Sunday's 19-17 loss to the previous one-win Broncos, the Packers' top priority at this point is to stick together. Because in times like these, it can be easier not to.

"It's a true test to all of us," Head Coach Matt LaFleur said of remaining unified as the team forges ahead. "It is extremely frustrating, I think the only thing you can do (is stick together). It tests your resolve.

"I do believe in the guys in that locker room, the character that we have. But it does test you, no question about it."

As usual in these circumstances, LaFleur's message is for everyone – players and coaches included – to "look internally" at where they can do better.

Worrying about oneself as opposed to anyone else is the only productive, and non-fracturing, path forward.

The Packers lost five in a row and seven of eight games last year and hung in there, so there's no reason to believe any kind of split is coming now.

Which leaves the next issue what to do about the slow starts. The bye week was supposed to lend some answers, but those apparently didn't materialize.

The Packers' offense remains stuck in neutral in the first halves of games despite trying various remedies.

In previous losses, they were trying to push the ball down the field early in games to open up other avenues, but that didn't work. Post-bye, comments from LaFleur and QB Jordan Love suggested taking the easy completions to find a rhythm was the emphasis, but that got the Packers nowhere in Denver.

After Sunday's loss, Love was back to suggesting more aggression early in games again, so who knows where it'll go from here. The return of the offense's most dynamic playmaker, Aaron Jones, had minimal effect overall on the production.

Given the way the second halves during this three-game losing streak have gone, the Packers for whatever reason perform better when the chips are down.

Check out photos from the Week 7 matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023.

"Backs against the wall, down 9-0, we haven't done anything offensively, we haven't put any points up, we get in that mode where it's like 'We've GOT to go out there and make plays. We have no other choice,'" Love said.

"It's on everybody. Not starting the game fast, not putting up points quickly, it comes back to bite us in the end. We try and do everything we can to fight and claw. The effort is always there. Everybody's fighting, everybody's straining."

LaFleur reiterated, as he's done before, the failures don't fall on one individual, no matter how much the NFL is a quarterback-driven league. In typical "look at everything" mode, LaFleur stressed that the timing of play calls, protection up front, and ability to win on routes and/or run the right ones all factor in the struggles.

Mistakes are evident across the board, and as the play caller, the head coach continues to look at himself first, as an example for the entire team to follow.

So where does that leave the Packers with six games done, 11 to go? Needing to hang tough, and together, because nothing's getting easier from here.

"Anytime things don't work out in this league, everything gets magnified," LaFleur said. "Every play is going to get dissected and nitpicked apart. That's the world we live in.

"You'd better be thick-skinned and you better be tough-minded and just take it. All you can do is try to learn from every situation."


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