2019 Getting In Sync Before the Bye (Bye Bye)

It's gonna be me, telling you how the Packers can get NSYNC this week.

Last year, I wrote a piece with this same title for a website that no longer exists. I love it so much that I’m going to turn it into an annual piece, because the Packers are always going to have a bye week! (Thanks for the suggestion, @audsGoPackGo!)

That said, let’s get things rolling. In 2018, the Packers had their bye week earlier in the season. The team was coming off perhaps its most confusing performance on the road against the Detroit Lions, where Mason Crosby missed kick after kick and nothing seemed to go right the entire night for the Packers. The week following, Green Bay won on a last-second field goal at home against the San Francisco 49ers to go into the bye week with a 3-2-1 record. 

Now, in 2019, the Packers are once again coming off a road game that doesn’t make a ton of sense in the eyes of the fanbase. The surging Packers with a 7-1 record didn’t look the part and got wholloped, to put it kindly, in Los Angeles against the Chargers. But, similarly to 2018, the Packers find themselves at home this week for what the team is hoping will be a bounce-back game against a strong 5-3 Panthers team. 

As Aaron Rodgers said in his post-game presser after the Chargers loss, the goal is to get to 8-2 before the bye week. To do that, the Packers need to fix a number of mistakes and get this team back on track. Let’s break down some keys to getting back in sync before the bye (bye bye). 

For starters, the Packers need to do more on offense. As I alluded to last week, the offense was finally humming and would be blessed with the return of its star receiver when Davante Adams returned from a toe injury. Well, as we all know now, that wasn’t exactly what happened against L.A. In fact, Aaron Rodgers only threw for 161 yards on the day, with Adams snagging 41 of those yards on seven receptions. 

How do the Packers fix the offensive woes heading into a matchup against Carolina? Well, Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams should be keys to success Sunday. Against L.A., the duo had a combined 40 yards rushing for the entire day off 10 attempts. For context, against the Chiefs, Jones and Williams combined for all four of the team’s touchdowns on the day. They’ve proven to be dynamic weapons in the running game, and also in the passing game. 

Part of what made the offense successful without Adams was the way the ball was spread around. Against the Raiders at home Week 8, when Rodgers achieved the first perfect passer rating of his career, he threw touchdown passes to five different pass catchers. Green Bay needs to find the offensive balance it had during its four-game win streak. 

On the defensive side of the ball, something glaring was missing against the Chargers. Did you guess it? Turnovers. The defense was unable to force a turnover in L.A., something that had become a staple for coordinator Mike Pettine’s squad. The Packers have only been without turnovers three times this season, and two of those games came against the Eagles and Chargers, the team’s two losses.

While the Packers currently rank 8th in the NFL in turnovers with 14 (eight interceptions), this defense is predicated on taking the ball away. When the defense is unable to do so, it usually indicates a rough day for Green Bay. The defense, adopting a “bend don’t break” mantra, has looked a little more break than bend in the last few weeks, with the team still unable to find an answer to explosive plays. 

That said, the Packers were able to hold the Chargers to field goals on their first four possessions, with a strong red zone defense keeping the offense in the game as long as possible, but it was only a matter of time before the Chargers were able to start scoring touchdowns against a worn-down Packers defense. 

The Packers are currently in the middle or bottom of almost every defensive category nine weeks through the 2019 season. In passing defense, the Packers rank 25th. In rushing defense, the Packers are 27th. In sacks, the Packers sit at 15th with 22. A silver lining, perhaps, is that the Packers defense currently ranks 11th in the league in points allowed per game (21). 

Another bright spot? Free agent acquisitions Za’Darius and Preston Smith have both tied their previous season-highs in sack totals through only nine weeks (Z with 8.5 and P with 8). The Super Smith Bros will need to create pressure to get Panthers second-year quarterback Kyle Allen uncomfortable in the pocket. Allen has been sacked a whopping 20 times in six games. The opportunities will be there to get after him.

It’s too easy to say that the Packers get back in sync by winning on Sunday, but that’s really what this comes down to. Heading into the bye week 8-2, and beating an NFC opponent in the process, would go a long way for the confidence of this Green Bay team. On offense, the Packers need to spread the ball around and get the running backs more involved. Doing that, in turn, will get Davante Adams more involved. On defense, the team needs to limit explosive plays and create takeaways. If the Packers can do that, they’ll get back NSYNC. This I promise you.

 

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and a podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (28)

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Lphill's picture

November 08, 2019 at 05:42 am

Packers need to send a message that the Chargers game was a fluke and put up a strong performance against the Panthers at home. I think the Players feel the same way and are looking for redemption.

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Sureshot's picture

November 08, 2019 at 05:45 am

Totally agree, we need more takeaways from the defense.
Put pressure on Allen to either sack him or make him force throws which could lead to a few Int.

However, first task in this game will be to control CMC and avoid giving him openings.

I don't see how the Packers D can manage to do both.

Once again, putting points early in the game, like for the Dallas Game, could help the run defense by shifting Carolina playcall to more passes.

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scoonie_penn's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:05 am

Maggie, God would have spent, a little more time (on the headline) than you. Cause every little thing you do, never seems enough for the crew.

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MaggieLoney's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:51 am

Well done!

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Tundraboy's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:47 pm

Let's hope that's exactly how the team feels because as a fan last week was enough to make me wonder. It was a cold slap in the face and brought back a lot of ugly memories. Want that to go away and not come back.

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scoonie_penn's picture

November 09, 2019 at 07:56 am

my apologies to anyone who arrived Justin time to read my comments using JC's father name in vain. It was tasteless. I am a giant joey buf-Fatone. At first G-Lance I feel like I made a B-ass out of myself. This is Chris-tal clear to me now. Maggie it will never happen again, This I Promise You!

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murf7777's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:24 am

Takeaways are key, the two games we lost we had zero! And please reduce pre-snap penalties and we will beat the Panthers 31-17.

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:33 am

CMC has looked human in 2 games, both against Tampa Bay who has the best run defense in the NFL. IF the Packers can hold CMC to say 120 yards on 25 to 28 toches or so, they'd probably be in a pretty good position to win. WHATEVER it is Tampa does hopefully Pettine will at least try something similar. I understand he may not have horses up front Tampa does on the DL, but whatever he's been doing against ANYONE on run defense just isn't cutting it.

The pass defense is what really has me confused. King is beat up and on the injury report as usual and only played something like 20 snaps last weekend. Alexander has suddenly gone from a guy who could realistically take #1 WR out of the game more less to a guy who's struggling against teams #2 or #3. WHY the Packers play 10 or 12 yards off on almost every game and allow receivers to run their routes with little to no obstruction is just beyond me but watching this defense play each week is getting tougher and tougher to watch.

On offense this week it's really simple to me. GET Jones and Williams involved EARLY and OFTEN. Carolina has been pretty bad against the run themselves. Getting the running game going for THIS Packers offense is almost as important as air to my lungs. They don't have the receiving threats they have in the past so Jones and Williams are the keys that make the whole thing go. I can't wait because I think that's EXACTLY what MLF will do this week.

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Bdubs's picture

November 08, 2019 at 05:17 pm

Blake Martinez sucks, that's the problem! He doesnt hit gaps he doesnt do anything! He sits on his heels and follows the play! To the the point that d coordinator's run everything at him! 6 yard pick up every time!

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 08, 2019 at 07:50 pm

Well just imagine for one second what this defense would look like without Martinez. Martinez may not be Brian Urlacker or someone like that, but I for one am glad they at least have him.

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stockholder's picture

November 08, 2019 at 08:29 am

Getting in sync? They have fallen a part. The Black and Blue is weak compared to the NFL. The numbers stink on offense and defense. We have looked for dominance. And week by week, they keep playing poorer. Ugly wins don't make champions. They show a weakness in their abilities to stay on top. That their Soft. This team has never been in sync. It's been either the offense or the defense that has taken advantage of their opponents weaknesses. The defense and offensive units have forgot to play as a team. Waiting for a cushion. Bend and Don't break. It's shown in the coaching and the play. What ever happened to bury them! If their 6 feet under they can't come back. The chargers buried the packers. It's time the packers bury their opponent!

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Handsback's picture

November 08, 2019 at 08:34 am

Chargers get the ball move down the field and get a field goal. They stop the Packers and go down the field and get another FG. Packers get the ball and do nothing again.
The difference in the Chargers defeat verses the other Packer wins wasn't the turnover as much as it was no offense. In past games the Packers allow teams to move the ball and settle for FG while the offense scores TDs. It makes the other team one dimensional and that's where the pass rush causes turnovers. If the Packers offense isn't going to do anything...it's a long day and the result isn't in the Packer's favor.
If Green Bay was in last year's SB against the Patriots with this years team and they couldn't move the ball like LA do you think the score would have been that close? I believe it would have been 30+ to 7. Green Bay started the season with a defense. They now have a defense that has a pass rush and not much else. That has to change. Maybe the pressure against the run slowed the pass rush. Maybe the weakside ILB will make a difference with Campbell back. Maybe the CBs are hurting and can't keep up with fast receivers.
Whatever the problems, the Packers aren't good enough to win with just one part of their team shut down. They won't go far in the playoffs unless they play like champs on both sides of the ball and STs start being special again.

So yeah it's turnovers and so much more. The bye is coming at a great time for the Packers.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 08, 2019 at 08:35 am

GB can't beat anyone if the OL plays as it did against LAC.

No NFL team can beat any other NFL team with an offensive line that performs like that. Game plan means nothing. The only way to win with that OL performance is for the defense to hold the other team close to zero, and probably score or at least set-up points for the offense. I'd add STs, but that seems like a fantasy.

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Houndog's picture

November 08, 2019 at 09:38 am

I don't see a lot of confidence stated above, and I can't say I feel much different, I don't see this team as a contender.
While I applaud their Rookie HC he is just that, a rookie head coach. That said, the flip side so far is that he seems to learn from his mistakes (unlike MM). What I'm hoping is that he's pushing all the right buttons in passing these corrections on to a team made up of a lot of young guys.
What worries me the most is that we haven't heard much from Gutekunst, even when TT was running the show we'd hear about who the Packers had in for try-outs on a given week. This year we hear nothing, and God knows they are in serious need of defensive help. FGS, find someone, a re-tread if necessary, or park a VW Beetle in the middle just to slow the opposition down, try something, try someone, move someone, try anything. Move the DBs up from their normal 10 yd cushion and see where the ball lands, it can't be that much worse than it already is!
I believe the offense will bounce back, and because of that I'm not 100% in on the 'defense wins championships' moniker, but I know this, You Can't Win Without One, and the Packers are seriously lacking in that department. Even a street F/A re-tread is better than no ILB at all.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 08, 2019 at 09:19 pm

Some 4-3 looks would help. Burks is a no show and Jackson is not contributing. Black marks on Ted Junior..
As TGR noted, it all starts with that O line. Bhaktiari is not having an ALL Pro year and Turner needs to get his head out of his ass and control his gap responsibility. LaFleur learned a lesson about the hug schedule--never again.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

November 08, 2019 at 09:46 am

Plain and simple, the players just need to execute better. the Packers have enough talent on both sides of the ball to win the NFC North. Bit that won't happen if players aren't holding themselves accountable to do their film study, follow curfew, and execute the game plan on the field by playing their assignments and playing foundationally sound football.

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splitpea1's picture

November 08, 2019 at 02:33 pm

But they need more talent on the defensive side of the ball to compete for a Super Bowl. They need heavier and stronger players on the defensive line, and faster inside linebackers that can drop back in coverage as well as stop the run. On the offensive side, they desperately need a reliable possession-type receiver. I definitely think the Packers are a playoff team, but I'd like to see them do more than win the division, and eventually, get to the Super Bowl while they still have Rodgers.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 08, 2019 at 09:15 pm

They have possession receivers in Adams and Lazard. This team needs alegitimate deep speed receiver from the 1st or 2nd round. Gutekunst should have made a play for Tate and he would have covered the PR job in a big way.
Still a bit bit of nepotism n Packertown. Lowry and Lancaster are not the answer in the run stopping department.

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LambeauPlain's picture

November 08, 2019 at 10:09 am

Since the Denver game 3, the Packers are NFL bottom feeders on D in the last 6 games. It shouldn’t be this way with all the upgrades Gutey gave Pettine.

It seems offenses are adjusting to Pettine’s scheme and he isn’t responding....that definition of insanity....doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Or that the players are buying in to Pettine’s principles that Pass D greatly trumps a focus on run D.

Pettine and his staff are all highly regarded and I still have faith they reverse the down arrow...but the run D with the front 5-7 is pathetically soft and opens up free receivers in the pass game...especially the TEs.

Maybe Campbell will give a synergistic boost...maybe give Ty Summers a shot alongside Martinez.

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Since'61's picture

November 08, 2019 at 10:35 am

First and most important for the Packers to get back in sync is for the OL to play well. The best approach to achieve that is to run the football. OLs prefer to run block versus pass block because they give out the hits when they run block. Get the run game going and then utilize play action quick hit passes. Our RBs and TEs should be factors early in this game to keep the chains moving. I would use Lewis in this game more than Graham. Lewis can block plus he can get off the line and make some catches off of play action. If anything use Graham as a decoy. Once we get some rhythm on offense we can open things up with Adams, MVS and Lazard. The OL is the key to getting our offense back on track. We go as far as the OL takes us.

On defense we need to stop the run and prevent the big plays. We are giving up too many big plays against the run and the pass. We need to pressure the QB and force 2-3 turnovers. We're playing at home and looking forward to bye week. Plus the team is relatively healthy although Amos has a hamstring and I'm not sure of his status for this game. Hopefully he can go since we are already weak in the middle.

As for adding players, I don't think that any help should be expected. This is the team we've got and looks like we're sticking with it. Maybe something happens over the bye week but I doubt it. This is a conference game, we take it and we're 8-2 with only one loss in the conference. At home, pretty healthy, cold weather, no excuses. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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DTowleJr's picture

November 08, 2019 at 10:43 am

This season is coming down as a testament to Mike Pettine's defense. Given the infusion of players and talent from Brian Gutekunst, this defense should be near the top in all categories, after all, it was 'players' that were lacking last year... or was that the real problem? If Green Bay cannot turn this defensive malaise around, Mat LaFleur's next big decision might be finding a Defensive Coordinator.

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Lphill's picture

November 08, 2019 at 11:09 am

The defense goes as far as the middle goes meaning Blake Martinez.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:08 pm

They have already gone further than that.
The record is more in spite of Blake than due to Blake

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Razer's picture

November 08, 2019 at 11:53 am

Well written Maggie.

Not sure what to say about this team other than they are not as good as fans are giving them credit for. Or, maybe only as good as Aaron Rodgers plays on any given day. We have a lot of gaps on this team and I would have to be a wild homer to consider them Super Bowl worthy. Having said that, Gutekunst has done a good job of rebuilding - he just needs another year to shore-up all our weaknesses.

Our defense depicts this 'almost there' state. Add another stud interior lineman and maybe a decent rotational big body to get the DLine up to par. For the love of God, get a true middle linebacker and stop with the ignore the position crap. It took us 10 years to actually address the safety position and now we are doing the same at ILB.

On offense we need a RG to make the OLine a strong average. I don't know what to say about our TE position other than it reminds me of the old safety or current linebacker dilemma. Find one and learn how to use him. We also need a quick twitch slot guy. It is great to have 4 or 5 WRs that tower over people but I think one quick guy that can get open underneath would be cheaper and more effective.

Special teams is a disaster and will continue to handicap our success. Enough said.

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Tundraboy's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Can't disagree here.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:07 pm

WOW. Instead of repeating the mindless brain deadening mantra of "more turnovers" try and figure out why turnovers occur.

If in fact facts matter study if being ahead of the other team in scoring impacts turnovers? On the road is it smart to defer the kickoff and play from behind? How much of this is just 'because' or everybody does it?

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mnbadger's picture

November 08, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Can we please stop declaring a need to get Davonte involved in the offense. We're successful when we get the ball out quickly and take what's given. Don't force it to DA to placate an ego or justify a contract. Let's just play our best and win !

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Bdubs's picture

November 08, 2019 at 04:54 pm

McCaffrey will make them look ridiculous! Panthers by 11!

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