2019 Week 13 - That's What Cheese Said

The Packers emerged victorious in a snowy MetLife matchup against the Giants. Now the team travels back to Green Bay for two straight home games at Lambeau Field.

The Packers toppled the New York Football Giants on Sunday to maintain sole possession of first place in the NFC North. Not to be lost in the shuffle of a 9-3 football team controlling its own destiny leading up to the playoffs is the fact that this 2019 Packers team already has four road wins on the season. In 2018, the team only managed one win on the road. 

The scene was snowy on Sunday, and that mattered to a Packers team optimistic about potentially hosting a playoff game at Lambeau Field in January.

“What I told our guys is, ‘this is great Green Bay weather right here,’” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur said with a smile. “I think they embraced that. I think they like to play in these types of conditions. Our guys did a good job with it.”

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed. “Oh, I love the conditions. I’ll admit I was a little worried it might be more rain than snow, but when those big flakes were falling down I felt pretty good about our chances.”

Coming off a disappointing loss on the west coast to the San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay knew what it needed to do at MetLife Stadium. 

“Our guys just came in and they got to work. And that’s what it’s going to take,” LaFleur said of the team’s preparation. “Overall I’m pretty happy with just a complete team win.”

His nine wins put him in a three-way tie in first place for the most wins by a first-year head coach in Packers history. The team, now locking in a winning record for the first time since 2016, knows there’s plenty more at stake for this 2019 squad. 

“Everything is still out there in front of us,” said wide receiver Davante Adams. “We pretty much control our destiny, and that’s the best position to possibly be in in the NFL.”

Adams had two of the team’s touchdowns on the day, his first two-touchdown performance of the season and his third total in 2019. Against the Giants, Adams had six receptions for 64 yards.

Part of the team’s success came on third downs, with players and coaches acknowledging the improvement on third down against the Giants compared to the abysmal 1-of-15 showing against the 49ers.

Against the Giants, the Packers were 7-of-13, good for a 54% conversion rate. The team also completed a lone fourth-down conversion to Geronimo Allison on a 4th-and-10 play. 

“When you’re able to kind of choke out your opponent in the last few minutes, and really dominating them the entire game, it’s a really good feeling. Especially going into next week,” said receiver Allen Lazard. “Especially looking back to seven days ago, leaving San Francisco, we had a very bitter, sour taste in our mouths and we just wanted to come out here and just get back in the rhythm of things.”

Maybe the brightest star on offense against the Giants was Lazard, who had his first 100-yard game as a pro. On the day he had three receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown, with one 43-yard reception moving the chains and a 37-yard play going for his TD.

While LaFleur acknowledged that the team spent more time this week in “third-and-manageable” situations, to him, that wasn’t the key point of the game. Instead, he emphasized the team’s plus-three turnover differential.

“I think that really was the difference in the game,” LaFleur said of the team’s three interceptions. 

Kevin King, Darnell Savage, and Tramon Williams all snagged picks for the defense against the Giants and rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. All three players now have multiple interceptions this season. 

When Williams was asked if this was the team’s most “complete” performance so far this year, he instead focused on areas they could still improve. “We feel like we could’ve played a little better, we could’ve got off the field on third down a little bit more, but we’re happy with our performance so far.”

As a whole, the defense held Jones to 20 completions for 240 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions for a rating of 49.4.

One area the Packers struggled was in the running game, which LaFleur acknowledged at the podium. 

“Certainly there’s a lot of room for improvement with our run game,” he said. On the day, Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones combined for 21 attempts for 59 yards, giving them a 2.8 yard average. 

Rodgers himself was actually the most productive rusher of the day, scrambling three times for 24 yards, giving him an eight-yard average. 

“Like I was telling Manny [Wilkins], I may be a smidge under 5.0 in the 40 now at this point, but I feel like I’m a little quicker in the snow,” Rodgers joked. “Comparatively.”

In contrast to his rushing yards, Aaron Rodgers had 21 completions for 243 yards and four touchdowns with zero interceptions, giving him a rating of 125.4.

One of those four touchdowns came to tight end Marcedes Lewis, lovingly nicknamed “Big Dog” by the team. It was his first in a Green Bay uniform.

“He’s a pro’s pro.” Rodgers said of his touchdown to Lewis, acknowledging the impact he’s had on the team all year as a leader and all-around good teammate. 

“I think it’s even more special because the relationship me and “12” have, I mean it’s beyond football,” said Lewis. “These are the types of things we talk about when we talk about leading the team the right way and being accountable when your number is called.”

Leadership was a common theme in the locker room this past week, with Za’Darius Smith acknowledging that he approached Rodgers about setting up leadership meetings with Coach LaFleur. 

“I had said something first to “12” and I think he relayed the message to Marcedes and I relayed it to P [Preston],” said Za’Darius of how the idea for a meeting began. “And that’s just something we’re going to start doing from now on once a week.”

Coincidentally, Za’Darius was one of the players LaFleur singled out at his post-game presser, giving him plenty of praise for his disruptive performance on defense.

“It felt like there was some pretty good pressure,” LaFleur said of his defense’s showing. “I know Za’Darius had multiple hits on him and really affected him in terms of I think some of those throws, some of those decisions where we were able to get the interceptions.”

Through 12 games this season, Za’Darius has registered 70 quarterback pressures (per Pro Football Focus). He was credited by the NFL with a whopping 10 of those pressures on Sunday against the Giants. 

Despite the strong, three-score victory at MetLife, the Packers aren’t getting complacent. They know what’s ahead of them heading into the final quarter of the season. 

“I don’t think these guys ever lost confidence to be honest with you,” said LaFleur of the team’s mentality leaving the west coast. “I think we had a bad performance, and you’re only as good as your last performance in this league. So I don’t think these guys wavered at all, I think they just got back to work and ignored the noise.”

“I think everybody’s had some ups and downs the last few months. That’s football. We got everything ahead of us,” agreed King, who leads the team with four interceptions on the season. 

The team last played at MetLife Stadium less than a year ago under Interim Head Coach Joe Philbin. They were a team looking for their one and only road win of the season. While Rodgers acknowledged the importance of playing for “pride” even when there isn’t much else to play for, he did admit that “this a lot more fun when you’re playing meaningful games in December.”

“November and December football, that’s what they remember,” added King. 

The 9-3 Packers head back to Lambeau Field for the team’s final two home games of the regular season, first against the Washington Redskins, then against the Chicago Bears. They’ll be looking to get hot on a winning streak before traveling for their road matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, who fell to the Seattle Seahawks yesterday and now sit at 8-4.

 

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 (23)

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Lphill's picture

December 03, 2019 at 03:10 pm

Probably can improve on third down conversions if they stopped taking deep shots on 3 rd and just try to move the chains, as I said before the Packers seem to get decent gains on 1 st down but not much on 2 Nd down I would like to see a breakdown let’s say from the Giants game for 2 Nd down plays and average gains.

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Point-Packer's picture

December 03, 2019 at 03:19 pm

The GB offense is still too darn predictable. Not Mike McCarthy predictable, that's nearly impossible to replicate, but with some clear patterns that are not that hard to suss out. I'm not asking for Julian Edelman WR style TD throws, but a little bit of trickery to keep teams on their toes and some imaginative thinking to the play calling that takes advantage of teams keying in on Jones/Adams.

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Gort's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:29 pm

Something that would be easy is to change the pace. Quit running the play clock to 00, unless it is is appropriate for the situation.

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albert999's picture

December 03, 2019 at 03:21 pm

Panthers head coach just got fired
Firing Garrett midseason i would get. Firing Kitchens midseason I get. But firing Rivera doesn't make much sense. Given that he was missing his starting QB and his QB played hurt, I don't think anyone else could have done much better.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 03, 2019 at 03:54 pm

Isn't it Doug's role here to post breaking news unrelated to the topic?

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albert999's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:05 pm

Didn’t realize we had roles

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Gort's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:31 pm

I like them sweet Hawaiian rolls.

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Lare's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:27 pm

I would like to see Rivera as Packers DC.

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albert999's picture

December 04, 2019 at 11:54 am

That would be awesome

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Razer's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:00 pm

Well written Maggie. I feel better about this inconsistent team after the article. Still having trouble believing this team is tough enough to beat the better teams, especially since the offense has cylinder problems. Maybe they will start to gel and play better ball down the stretch.

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albert999's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:07 pm

This team although I love em isn’t tough enough or fast enough or talented enough to beat the top tier teams this year

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splitpea1's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:17 pm

Sadly, I have to agree with you. This team doesn't strike me as being much different from the McCarthy teams from, say, the middle of the decade. They're still playing Rodgersball with the deep throws on third-and-short, featuring too much soft zone on defense, and have deficiencies on special teams, among other things. I'm so sick of some members of the national media labeling the Packers as "soft" (which is a characterization I don't agree with), but you're right: they need to play a faster, more physical style and acquire the players that will allow them to do so.

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Lare's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:13 pm

OK, so like most Packers fans I would have liked to see a snoozer of a game against the Giants- easy win, smooth running offense & defense, error-free special teams. But that just isn't the cards for any Packers game this season. The Packers are a team in transition with coaches, scheme & players changing every year.

9-3, a win is a win even if it comes down to the last few minutes of the game. Not the way I'd like to see things go, but it's a heck of a lot better than the last few years- warts & all.

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Gort's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:36 pm

Definitely better than last year. They flat out got whipped at Frisco, but they didn't look like they quit even in that blowout.

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Lphill's picture

December 03, 2019 at 04:34 pm

I agree Ron Rivera for defensive coordinator next season. I think he is an upgrade.

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Cubbygold's picture

December 03, 2019 at 05:17 pm

Green bay is 14th in points allowed this year. The top 10 teams in defensive spending average roughly $75M in cap hit, all of them have allowed fewer points-per-game than GB, who spends just $55M.

You want top-10 production on defense, you need to find $20M in the budget to add more talent on that side of the ball. That's taking your worst player on defense and adding the best player in the league at that position, and still having cash left over to improve other positions. You think Pettine could use a Bobby Wagner or a Devin Bush? How about an upgrade at DE?

Firing the coordinator for only getting this group to 14th is like getting mad at the manager of the Miami Marlins for continually losing to the Yankees. It's just simple math. Other teams have more talent, GB is doing a lot with the resources provided.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

December 03, 2019 at 05:46 pm

My frustration with the defense comes from all the draft capital used and wasted on that side of the ball. Q. Rollins, D. Randall, Josh Jones, Josh Jackson, Oren Burks, M. Adams, maybe even Rashan Gary and Kevin King. These players are just from the most recent years. I avidly follow the nfl draft and it is disheartening to look back and realize the other players we could have drafted. It's not all about the money$.

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Cubbygold's picture

December 03, 2019 at 05:49 pm

For sure, lots of busts. Has little/nothing to do with Pettine. If he was surrounded by elite guys playing in their final year of rookie deals, the $ would be misleading, unfortunately he isn't.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

December 03, 2019 at 06:19 pm

A lot to do with Gure though, who has two relatively poor drafts under his belt. Gary at #12?... Wow, about as big a fail as you could ask for.

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splitpea1's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:01 pm

They need to take the best player available on the defensive side of the ball, not the best athlete or hybrid--especially when we're talking about the first three rounds, which is where all of the players you mentioned were taken. If the Packers don't change the way they evaluate defensive players, we'll be having this discussion forever....

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packerbackerjim's picture

December 03, 2019 at 09:29 pm

I think he may very well wait for the HC for the Bears to come open. Just a matter of time

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deerskinlake's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:13 pm

Wow Maggie, what game were you watching?
I saw the same Packer defense that could not get off the field on most of New York's third downs.
I also saw an inept offense with no continuity as usual except for big desperation plays. Without the turnovers in that game we probably would have barely won .....or not.

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Gort's picture

December 03, 2019 at 08:44 pm

Most of that was true for part of the game, but they didn't quit and finally pulled away late.
There always is room for improvement and they are much improved from last year.

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