On a Sunday afternoon in which the Packers went into Dallas without their star receiver Davante Adams, the Packers sure balled out.
Now, this isn’t to say that Matt LaFleur wasn’t legitimate prior to the Packers and Cowboys matchup, but the Packers were put into their toughest position of the season against the Cowboys on Sunday. Davante Adams was out, Jimmy Graham struggled mightily the week prior, and it looked like Kevin King (groin) wasn’t going to play.
Everyone counted the Packers out.
From mainstream football analysts to Green Bay’s own beat writers, few had faith in the ability of Matt LaFleur and his Green Bay Packers to go down to Dallas against Ezekiel Elliot and Dak Prescott and pull off a win. Looking at the Packers’ run-defense the week before (which gave up 176 rushing yards and 2 TD’s) who would have wanted to give the Packers’ D the upper hand?
Ezekiel Elliot has been a force to be reckoned with, mix that with poor run-defense by the Packers and what do you get? Doubt.
Per the Packers’ depth chart, Marques Valdez Scantling is technically the Packers’ number two receiver, a guy that is tall, lengthy, and can run the deep route. Aside from MVS, Geronimo Allison, and Jake Kumerow, the Packers, more specifically Aaron Rodgers, hadn’t looked at many other receivers to get the ball to.
On Sunday, however, Aaron Rodgers did what he does best which is be Aaron Rodgers. The critics will say that all Aaron Rodgers has is a number one receiver in Davante Adams and outside of that Rodgers won’t perform well. Think again. Against the Cowboys, Rodgers found nine different Packers to get the ball to. Rodgers doesn’t need Davante Adams to lead this team to victory. What Rodgers does need, however, is a running back that is efficient and a head coach that can scheme the offense with Rodgers.
Matt LaFleur did exactly that by turning the page in his playbook. Sunday wasn’t about back shoulder throws or fades to Davante Adams. It was about a jet sweep with Geronimo Allison, hard, downhill running by Aaron Jones, and Matt LaFleur creating an offense for Rodgers where Rodgers didn’t need to rely on just one guy.
In years past if the Packers were struggling, who was the guy that Rodgers would go to? Jordy Nelson. The Jordy Nelson back shoulder throw/catch was signature. You just knew it was coming. Against the Cowboys, LaFleur knew Adams was down, so he opened up the offense and took the pressure off of Rodgers (although Rodgers still continued to make spectacular plays).
There is a riot happening on Packers’ twitter over their number two wide receiver situation.
Some say the Packers need a guy who can step in when Davante Adams isn’t present because Marquez Valdez Scantling won’t cut it. The truth is, however, the Packers went down to Dallas and won a game without Davante Adams and put up 34 points. Matt LaFleur is the guy the Packers needed to come in and show the league that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have to be Aaron Rodgers for the Packers to win.
The argument for the Packers picking up a number two receiver is that Aaron Jones won’t always have a 4-TD game (they are in fact rare). It makes sense for fans to be frustrated if the Packers are losing without Adams, but it’s the opposite, they are winning.
If Matt LaFleur can innovate without Davante Adams and still be productive, let’s see what the Packers offense can do.
The Packers will take on the Detroit Lions at home on Monday Night Football. The Lions (2-1-1) are currently sitting second place in the NFC North behind the Packers of course. This is a division that might be the toughest in football, and each game within it is going to be a slugfest. The evidence for this is looking at all of the NFC North teams when they play outside of the division. The Packers lost a close game against the Eagles, 34-27. The Lions tied the Cardinals and barely lost to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at home 30-34. The Vikings’ (3-2) two losses come within the NFC North, and the Bears’ second loss did come outside of the division against the Oakland Raiders.
The NFC North is a division to be reckoned with. If the Packers and stay relatively healthy and Matt LaFleur can continue to innovate week to week, the Green and Gold have a solid shot of sitting back on the throne in the NFC North.