The Green Bay Packers came into Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season hoping to jump out to a hot start with a statement win over the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers and company were unable to accomplish that goal. Instead, they suffered a brutal and embarrassing 38-3 loss, which has led to a ton of questions about just how good this team will be this season.
Following an offseason full of drama surrounding Rodgers, the superstar quarterback came out with one of the biggest dud performances of his entire career. He completed just 15 of his 28 passes for 133 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions. To say that he suffered a humbling loss would be an understatement.
Green Bay also couldn't get the running game going, despite the Saints focusing on shutting down Rodgers. The Packers ran for just 43 yards on 15 carries as a team. Needless to say, those numbers aren't going to get the job done.
Defensively, the Packers were disheartened by the first performance under new defensive coordinator Joe Barry. No pressure was applied to Jameis Winston, who carved up the Green Bay secondary to the tune of five touchdown passes. In the secondary, Kevin King got burned on another deep touchdown pass and things simply don't look good for the Packers.
All of that being said, let's dive in and take a look at the three main takeaways from the Packers' embarrassing Week 1 loss to the Saints.
3. Packers Running Game Has To Get Going
Matt LaFleur has the luxury of being able to lean on Rodgers in most games to come through when the offense needs him the most. That wasn't the case in Week 1, which showed a major weakness for the Packers. If Rodgers can't put together a big game, will the team be capable of doing anything on the offensive side of the football?
Green Bay has to get to the point where it isn't relying solely on Rodgers' arm for offensive success. The running back duo of A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones has to get going. Jones, who received a hefty contract extension in the offseason, carried the ball only five times for nine yards, which isn't going to cut it.
Jones and Dillon have to get going in Week 2 against the Detroit Lions. They have the talent, now it's time to see them put it all together on the field.
2. If The Defense Struggles Like That, It's Going To Be A Long Season
After moving on from defensive coordinator Mike Pettine during the offseason, the hopes were high that the Packers could turn things around on the defensive side of the ball. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry brings a lot of energy to the sideline, but his defense didn't work at all in Week 1. Whether it was Winston or Alvin Kamara, the Saints walked all over the Green Bay defense.
The defensive line did not play well, the middle of the defense did not play well, and the secondary did not play well. If that doesn't change immediately, it's going to be a long season for the Packers regardless of how much the offense improves.
Green Bay has the talent defensively to field a very good unit. Za'Darius Smith, Rashan Gary, and Preston Smith are all capable pass-rushers and Kenny Clark is one of the top defensive tackles in the game. De'Vondre Campbell is a good middle linebacker, Jaire Alexander is one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and Adrian Amos is one of the best safeties. The Packers need to see a much improved defensive unit against the Lions.
1. Everyone Needs To R-E-L-A-X About Aaron Rodgers
Immediately following the brutal performance, fans and media started hounding Aaron Rodgers. Granted, he brought a lot of this on himself. Staying away from the Packers all offseason did not reduce the temperature in the room. How he talked to the media led to the crucifixion that he is enduring right now.
However, the Packers' leader is still one of the best to ever play the quarterback position. It was one game in a 17-game season. Taking from his famous comment from a few years ago, everyone needs to R-E-L-A-X. Relax.
Should Rodgers continue struggling and have another dud performance next week on Monday Night Football against the Lions, then the criticism would be understandable. But, he didn't play a single snap in the preseason, and neither did the rest of the starting offense. Sometimes, it can take a week to get up to speed.
We still firmly believe that Rodgers and the Packers' offense will get things rolling in Week 2.