2020 Week 7 - That’s What Cheese Said

Read key comments from the head coach and players following Green Bay's 35-20 win against the Texans.

Now sitting atop the NFC North after a Chicago Bears loss on Monday Night Football, the 5-1 Packers are in control of their own destiny. Green Bay needed a “get right” game, and they found it in a 35-20 victory against the Houston Texans. 

"I said it was an anomaly, and obviously we wanted to back that up," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said of the Buccaneers game. "That game is an outlier I believe and today was more in line with our first four weeks."

It was a big game for the quarterback, ending the day with 23 completions for 283 yards and four touchdowns for a rating of 132.4. He also took zero sacks after a four-sack outing from the Buccaneers in Week 6. 

“It was a nice clean day up front. Those guys deserve a lot of credit,” said Rodgers. “They’ve played really really well all year. Five of the six games, to have zero or one sack is pretty impressive.”

The offensive line has seen its fair share of shuffling all season long, but perhaps no line combination was as up-in-the-air as Sunday’s performance without All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari. In his place, Billy Turner filled in admirably, with Rick Wagner getting the start at right tackle.

After playing as Green Bay’s right guard for the 2019 season, Turner had found himself a home at right tackle in 2020, arguably his more natural position. But in a pinch, he swung over to left tackle to ensure the Packers were able to put their best five linemen on the field. 

“We’re fortunate to have guys that are versatile and can step up and do an outstanding job versus two really good rushers.” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur of his offensive line, highlighting Turner specifically. 

The “next man up” mentality runs deep in Green Bay, with plenty of players being asked to step into more prominent roles on Sunday. 

Both tight end Jace Sternberger and wide receiver Malik Taylor had their first career regular season touchdowns against the Texans. Rookie fifth round draft pick Kamal Martin made his debut at inside linebacker, with undrafted free agent Henry Black making one of the splash plays of the game forcing a fumble to seal Green Bay’s victory. 

"That definitely lit up the bingo card, I'm sure, from training camp,” joked Rodgers. “Sternberger touchdown, Malik Taylor touchdown, Henry Black forced fumble. That's pretty special right there. That's a credit to those guys being ready. There were a lot of guys we knew this week that were gonna get a chance to play.”

Rodgers added Martin, running back Dexter Williams, and defensive lineman Billy Winn to that list, too. But despite all of the young players making plays, perhaps no one stepped up quite like veteran running back Jamaal Williams, who got the start in place of Aaron Jones who was out with a calf injury. 

Williams had 114 all-purpose yards and rushed for his first touchdown of the season, Green Bay’s fifth and final score of the day. 

“I mean I love Jamaal,” said Rodgers smiling. “Jamaal is such an important part of our team in so many facets.”

He added that Williams deserves so much credit for what he did in the offseason to prepare, and that some of the plays he’s made already this season he might not have made last season. 

“I love the energy and juice that he brings to our football team,” said LaFleur of Williams. “It’s infectious. It brings everybody else kind of with him.”

For Williams, while he was sad his teammate and close friend Jones couldn’t play, his goal remains to be productive every time he touches the football. 

“It’s always next man up,” he said. “I’m really just taking every opportunity I can to show I can be a starting running back and I can show my potential and everything I have to put on the field for the team.”

There’s no denying Williams played well on Sunday, but the absolute star of the show was of course receiver Davante Adams, who had a career outing in the Lone Star State. He set a career-high 196 receiving yards on 13 receptions with two touchdowns and had six receptions of 15-plus yards, also a career best. Additionally, he hauled in every single one of the team’s seven third down conversions. 

“I don’t know what he can’t do. He’s a complete player. I don’t think there’s a route he can’t run,” said LaFleur of Adams. 

The offense largely funneled through Adams and Williams, with Taylor’s two receptions the only other receptions by a wide receiver all game. To Rodgers, it was a “strange” game where the offense was productive, but he still felt there was more out there the team could’ve had. 

“It’s crazy when you come out of a game when you win 35-20 and we know that there’s so much more to improve upon really in all three phases,” agreed LaFleur, saying it’s a credit to the players. 

Defensively, it was perhaps the unit’s most complete performance of the season, with the Packers holding the Texans to zero points in the first half, despite going up against a high-powered offense led by Deshaun Watson. 

Even without starters Kevin King and Darnell Savage in the secondary, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine didn’t shy away from his game plan. 

“Everybody has their role, and then when things happen, people go down, people have to step up and you have to maintain that same standard that we have,” said safety Adrian Amos, who had a sack and fumble recovery on Sunday. “I think the guys that came in, they did very well.”

He added that the defense was able to contain the vertical passing game and eliminate the big plays the Texans are used to completing on offense. “We trust one another and we don’t flinch.” 

In the middle of the defense, the Packers may have found the tandem of the future in rookies Martin and Krys Barnes. Barnes led the team with eight total tackles and a sack, while Martin wasn’t far behind with six total tackles and one tackle for loss. 

“He approaches the game with a business-like mindset. He plays hard, and he works hard, and he competes hard,” said Martin of Barnes. The pair have been working together since the offseason program, holding their own separate meetings together to learn the defense. 

“We’re building depth at that position, which is critical,” said LaFleur of the tandem. Martin played 43% of defensive snaps in his debut and Barnes wasn’t far behind with 40%. 

At one point in the game, Martin was also tasked with wearing the communication helmet, something he had little practice doing before the game against Houston. The defense finished the day with three sacks and held the Texans ground game to only 79 yards rushing. The unit also had two critical red zone stops to hold the Texans to just six points on promising drives. 

After a convincing win to get to 5-1, all alone at the top of the NFC North, the Packers can continue a dominant 8-0 streak in the division under LaFleur on Sunday at Lambeau Field against the 1-5 Minnesota Vikings.

 

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

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Comments (17)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
amandarivera's picture

October 27, 2020 at 01:46 pm

Learning the defence is always a challenge. I played football when I was at college, however, at the moment, I am a university student, and due to all of my assignments, I was not able to pay enough attention to my hobby. Therefore, I have turned to https://assignmentbro.com/uk/university-assignment-help website for help and try to catch up with lost time.

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Bure9620's picture

October 28, 2020 at 02:51 am

Hello Russian Bot

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Packerpasty's picture

October 28, 2020 at 09:28 am

sure thing Amanda...what were you a center..

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WisconsinStrong's picture

October 27, 2020 at 03:35 pm

This story helped me to realize how great a game this was for the defense. As much as I loved watching Jamaal and Davante lighting things up, the offense definitely left a bit out there at times during the second half. However, the D was generally stout, and impressively so with how many backups were on the field and how strong Houston's offense can be. I sometimes feel that we obsess disproportionately on the shortcomings of the D vs. the O (see calls last week for Pettine to be let go); on second look, I am proud of how our D held up this week. Thanks, Maggie!

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splitpea1's picture

October 27, 2020 at 04:06 pm

We do not "obsess disproportionately..." about the defense. The schemes, coaching, and talent level leave much to be desired, especially if our goal is to reach the Super Bowl. Houston is a one-win team, and the Packers took care of business like they should have--nothing more should be taken away from that game.

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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:02 pm

Duplicate deleted

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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:01 pm

Houston has a good pass offense and a very mobile QB. The D has failed against on or both of those before. It didn’t. It played well and Pettine called it well. Let’s see if that’s a start of a trend up as we get healthier or not.

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Packerpasty's picture

October 28, 2020 at 09:31 am

the trend is that the Packers beat up on lesser teams but get hammered by the big boys, that trend has to stop to even think about a super bowl..

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Alberta_Packer's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:09 pm

The D had its best game overall - with K.C. helping to make everybody better on the d-line. I really liked Raven Greene's game although I thought he was somewhat mis-schemed covering slot receivers too many times. He is best closer to the line of scrimmage and covering short distances. Martin is a bona fide ILB - giving the team the prospect of a really strong group with Martin, Barnes and Kirksey (sorry Summers) - that the team has not possessed for years. Despite the 35 points, I was less-enthused with the offence - particularly A.R. He has a tendency to become Adams-fixated - at the expense of the other receivers development. I understand that the other WRs didn't offer much yesterday but the TEs were open at times. Just because you can throw to Adams on practically every play doesn't mean you have to. Furthermore the more hits a receiver takes, the higher probability of an injury. In short, I would have liked to see a more even distribution of throws - especially to Tonyan and Sternberger. Some final grades - Defense B+, Offence B, with Adams A+, Williams A and A.R. B-.

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Spock's picture

October 28, 2020 at 11:44 am

"Just because you can throw to Adams on practically every play doesn't mean you have to." But why wouldn't you pass to your BEST weapon? People are practically screaming on here every day to get another wide receiver "weapon" and then (I'm not trying to dis you here, many commentors are complaining about perceived "too many shots to Adams") DON'T want to use our (well paid) BEST wide receiver weapon. I don't buy the "at the expense of other receivers development" theory. There's only sixteen (if all goes well with covid) regular season games. Use the best weapon(s) you've got. Adams has shown the ability (after the two cheap shot head hits) to protect himself and he's earning his money. Let him.

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NJ-RICK's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:04 pm

Lions just trade for Everson Griffin for a 6th round draft pick. And the Packers are doing what...? More dumpster diving... C'mon man...!!!!!

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Alberta_Packer's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:16 pm

Griffin for a 6th - with Lowry benched - yes please!

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PeteK's picture

October 27, 2020 at 06:56 pm

I believe, at 273 he's better suited playing DE on a 4-3 defense.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 28, 2020 at 05:00 am

Right. He'd cost $3.45M to GB's cap for the rest of the year as a 10 game rental. He'd be a third down pass rushing specialist. He is pretty good so perhaps he could play some on earlier downs, but he is just Gary sized.

2.5 sacks, 7 QB hits and 14 pressures in 7 games, 20 tackles (10 solo). He is still a good player, but probably not what fits GB.

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Coldworld's picture

October 27, 2020 at 07:49 pm

And just where would he fit? Gary sized DE.

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PeteK's picture

October 27, 2020 at 05:12 pm

Taking into account all the injuries before and during the game to key players, this was a solid win. The Vikes game will be similar because they too have not won ,but have one point losses to Seattle and Tennessee. Plus a division rival with a week off is always dangerous.

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Archie's picture

October 28, 2020 at 11:11 am

Great article.

I still see Pack as about 10th best team in the NFL. They will beat up on all below them but will struggle against the top teams. Pack more likely than Bears to make playoffs but both could make it. How about Bears @Lambeau?!

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