The Packers lose their second straight game for their third loss of the season. Without Rodgers the Packers passing game struggled, despite a big game on the ground from Aaron Jones.
It is hard finding something good to write about after a loss, especially on your home turf, but what a day for the returning Davon House. After being out for a few weeks, he returned today and made an immediate impact. Picking off Drew Brees in the first half and not giving up on plays give House my seal of approval. Ultimately you want to get a win when it’s all said and done, but House should be proud of what he was able to accomplish today. When the Packers come off from a much needed bye week, expect House to lead this young group of cornerbacks during the second half of the season.
I have been preaching this for weeks now. The defense needs to get off the field on third down. While the Saints do have a dangerous offense, there were ample opportunities to force fourth downs and make the Saints punt the ball back to the Packers. Overall, the Saints converted eight times on third down. Most of those conversions came in the second half when the Saints took over the game. It easily cost the Packers the game. It kept a tired defense on the field and an offense looking for confidence on the sidelines, unable to make much of an impact. The offense definitely ran better in the first half, because the defense was able to stop Drew Brees and the Saints. In the second half, not so much as the Saints drove down the field and scored on every drive, except for the last, during the last half of play. If the Packers want to win without Aaron Rodgers, the defense has to step up and help Hundley out. Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.
Good: Blake Martinez
This isn’t my first time having Blake Martinez as the good but how do you not recognize how well the 2nd year linebacker is playing. In first half alone, Blake had surpassed 10 tackles and he is currently leading the team in total tackles on the season with 64. Which is good enough for number 1 in the league. If Martinez continues at this pace, he’ll eclipse 145 tackles on the season. By comparison would put him in the top 5 for total tackles in the 2016 season. Placing him just behind All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and just ahead of All-pro linebacker Sean Lee.
Bad: Time of possession
I know the Packers defense didn’t hold up in the second half but that can’t be solely on the defenses shoulders. The Saints had possession 13 minutes more than the Packers. Partially because of two 3-and-outs after Saints turnovers. One can speculate that with Rodgers in the game he takes advantage of Brees’ interceptions and gets points out of them. Overall, I’m hopefull with the defense coming out of the loss. Damarious Randall continues to get interceptions, Clark and Martinez look like studs in year two. I could see big improvements for the defense if they can take advantage of the third and longs they force teams into.
The positive out of this game is that the Packers had some players step up and make plays. Kenny Clark blocking the PAT, and Davon House and Damarious Randall both had interceptions. Randall looked as if he had some making up to do, or that he had something to prove. This is what the coaches wanted to see out of a maturing football player. Aaron Jones is also a positive in this game. He showed that he can be consistent, and that the Packers can rely on him in the running game. He will most likely take over the starting RB position in the near future.
The negative that is taken out of this game is that our defense completely fell apart in the second half. Although Randall and House both had interceptions at the beginning of the game, they just ran out of gas at the end. Drew Brees threw for 331 yards and the Saints rushed for a total of 161 yards. Can you imagine if Davon House had not played? Kevin King was out last week but he seemed to be beat on the majority of plays. Their secondary is struggling. It is something the Packers have needed to fix or improve all season. This time it is just more obvious because Aaron Rodgers isn’t the quarterback.
Aaron Jones…again. It looks as if Ty Montgomery has, at least for the next handful of weeks, relinquished his gig as the starting running back for this Packers’ team. There were a few dump-off receptions that Jones had in which he seemingly had nowhere to go, but instead he finessed defenders when needed. The offensive line, playing without guard Lane Taylor and with their seventh different combo this season, also deserves a tip of the cap, as Brett Hundley had plenty of time to go through his progressions, and rationalize scrambling situations. The Saints only landed one sack this past afternoon, which is relieving. Hundley deserves at least one more week, as all hope for effectiveness and chemistry is not lost yet.
New Orleans backfield duo bludgeoned the run defense of the Pack, whether it was by dinking and dunking to rookie polymath Alvin Kamara, or allowing veteran Mark Ingram to clean up and work between the tackles. These two took pressure off Drew Brees, allowing the future Hall of Famer the gun it whenever he found it necessary. Of course, this clicking offense enervated a Packers’ D, that, in the first half, played extremely efficient. Guys like Blake Martinez and Davon House were flying all over the field, as the former led the team in tackles, the latter had a nice early interception. However, the uneven time of possession battle ultimately lost the game for the Pack.