The Green Bay Packers took a PHAT “L” Sunday, losing to the 1-5 (now 2-5) Minnesota Vikings at Lambeau Field. The reason for the loss? The defenses. Both defensive units had different afternoons, which proved to be the difference in this game. Green Bay’s defense (particularly their run defense) was less than stellar.
Firstly, credit must be given to the Vikings for coming to play today. Offensively they rode a returning Dalvin Cook to victory. Four touchdowns and over 200 yards from scrimmage, is the kind of production Minnesota has been missing while he nursed a groin injury. The Vikings offensive line pushed Green Bay’s defensive line around, all day long. Not once did they stack the box and force Kirk Cousins to beat them. “We never put them in a situation where they had to drop back and throw the football – or at least not too many times,” Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur said. It’s a problem.
On Quick TO:SS, I said the Packers could play to the level of their competition, but must play the Vikings for the tough football they’ve been over the years. It’s clear they didn’t get the message. Again, credit must be given to the Vikings. Mike Zimmer came in with a masterful plan to stop the Packers offense, and that young, banged-up defense executed. The Packers defense, however, did not. At all.
For years we’ve seen Aaron Rodgers lead a potent offense, which covered up a putrid defense. This was the case last season, although the offense wasn’t quite as potent, and it’s trending the same way this season. Run defense was the reason for a humiliating NFC Championship loss last season. Run defense will prevent the Packers from reaching championship heights this season. LaFleur feels the same way. “That’s something that we better get fixed, and we better get it fixed fast because I have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen on a short week on Thursday in San Francisco, as well.”
Look, getting pushed around by one of the worst offensive lines in football, doesn’t exactly stir up much confidence. The front office didn’t do much to solve this issue in the offseason either. This is a moment Matt LaFleur must assert his authority as the head coach. He admittedly knew what the Vikings were doing, yet didn’t go over to his defensive coordinator, Mike Pettine, and tell him to adjust. The quote after the game acknowledging this is good, but in-game adjustments are better.
The loss stings, but it is much deeper than that. Matt LaFleur has to BE the head coach. He must ensure Pettine is doing what’s best for the team to win games. This is a moment, a crossroads. Another piss poor performance by the run defense, with zero adjustments, will lead to some pain and possibly changes.
San Francisco, despite their injuries and a short week, will provide a stiff test. Thursday will tell if Mike Pettine and this defensive personnel are the answer or the problem.