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Team chemistry working for Packers, now and later

Rolling with the punches and fixing what’s wrong both require togetherness


ARLINGTON, Texas – Matt LaFleur was happy with the win, but he sounded exactly like a coach who wanted to start breaking down the film right away on the flight home.

After the Packers' 34-24 victory over the Cowboys on Sunday at AT&T Stadium that morphed from domination to drama over the final two quarters, LaFleur kept repeating in his postgame press conference how much the Packers have to "clean up" and how much "more is out there" for them.

No, LaFleur isn't going to let the Packers rest on this win, as significant as it was to make Green Bay the lone 4-1 team in the NFC North. The film study will be a serious endeavor, as it always is.

"There's a lot to improve upon," LaFleur said. "You never want to give up those big plays that allow a team to come back so quickly, and that's what happened there."

Indeed, the Cowboys hit touchdown passes of 40 and 53 yards when longer drives would have bled a lot more clock. The Packers also gave up four other chunk plays of 20-plus yards and committed several penalties that helped the Cowboys along.

That was the biggest issue bugging LaFleur, but right behind it was the Packers' offensive performance on third down. They went 3-for-12, including none for their last five when penalties and negative plays once again created too many difficult situations.

"Right now we're not getting it done on third down," he said, explaining that third-and-6 or less is what he categorizes as manageable, because so much of the playbook is available. "Our Achilles heel is when something goes a little bit bad … it's tough sledding."

So, the Packers know what they need to work on. But there's also plenty of confidence they'll get those issues turned around.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers spent a good portion of his postgame remarks lauding the chemistry this Packers team possesses – a togetherness that speaks to how they keep battling through a game like Sunday when injuries are ravaging the lineup and all the momentum is swinging the other way.

It's that same element that will help the Packers fix what ails them over the course of a long season.

"We're just a more connected team this year," Rodgers said. "We're enjoying each other more, we like each other more, …

"The locker room is a raucous environment, whether it's a Monday or whether it's right after a big win. I just think guys really play for each other. They have that chemistry because of the leadership we have that maybe we've been lacking the last couple years."

In other words, the leadership isn't all on the two-time MVP quarterback, and he knows that's for the better.

Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith combined for three sacks and talked postgame together again, as has quickly become tradition. Adrian Amos is the opposite personality-wise, much quieter but a leader nonetheless in the professional way he prepares and plays.

Jaire Alexander had an up-and-down day but he'll be the first one to shake it off and keep plugging away. A veteran and a rookie in Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins, respectively, have fit in nicely with their highly accomplished offensive line mates.

"I think it's really about encouraging guys to be themselves," Rodgers said of the team's makeup this year. "When you create an environment that allows the freedom of expression, or you have guys like 'Z' that just bring it everywhere they go … I like the vibe on the team. I think we're having a lot of fun.

"The personalities we have are encouraging other guys to grow, be confident in themselves, and you see it in their performances."

Performances that haven't been perfect, but ones everyone to a man believes can and will get better.

Four-and-one, and forward.

The Green Bay Packers traveled to Dallas to take on the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in a Week 5 matchup.