Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2021 Week 7

Throwback jerseys, notable coaching records, and more in this week's six pack. 

The Packers take a 5-1 record into Week 7 with a home game against the Washington Football Team on deck. Here are six things to consider heading into the noon contest at Lambeau Field: 

1. WFT Defense - WTF Ranking

The Washington Football Team boasts one of the league’s best defensive fronts, with Head Coach Matt LaFleur joking “they’ve got creatures all along the defensive line,” earlier in the week. That unit is made up of four former first round draft picks, including Jonathan Allen (17th pick, 2017 Draft), Daron Payne (13th pick, 2018 Draft), Montez Sweat (26th pick, 2019 Draft), and Chase Young (2nd overall pick, 2020 Draft). Those four players have combined for nine of Washington’s 12 total sacks this season. Allen also has a whopping 14 quarterback hits through six games. 

Surprisingly, though, the Football Team defense is last in the NFL in points against, allowing an average of 31 points per game. The team is 31st in yards per game (423), 31st in first downs allowed, and 32nd in passing yards, third down conversions allowed, and passing touchdowns (16). Also of note, Washington opponents are currently starting drives with good field position, beginning on their own 32.5 yard line. 

Still, the Washington defense is capable of forcing turnovers, with two interceptions and a forced fumble against the Chiefs last Sunday. The Packers will need to protect the football, as they’re 5-1 this season with one or zero turnovers on offense. 

2. LaFleur’s Impressive Coaching Company

The Packers have started 5-1 for the third consecutive season, meaning Green Bay is 15-3 through the first six games of the season in LaFleur’s tenure as head coach. That .833 winning percentage ranks first in the NFL over that span, per the dope sheet. This is also the first time the Packers have won at least five of their first six games in three straight seasons since 1961-1963, when Vince Lombardi was the head coach. 

Both LaFleur and Lombardi have connections to the Washington Football Team, with LaFleur serving as the team’s quarterbacks coach from 2010-2013, and Lombardi as head coach/general manager in 1969. 

3. 1950’s Throwback Jerseys 

The Packers will don brand new throwback jerseys on Sunday. Gone are the days of navy and gold alternates. Instead, the Packers are rockin’ an all-green jersey and pants combo with gold accents, a nod to the look Green Bay sported between 1950-1953. Per the Packers website, this 50s uniform marks only the second time in team history Green Bay wore green and gold. They had worn green once previously in the mid-to-late 1930s. 

Green Bay didn’t wear a third jersey in 2020, but the Packers are 1-0 in throwbacks in LaFleur’s tenure as head coach, with his first (and only) victory coming in 2019 against the Denver Broncos in a 27-16 win. Dating back to 2013, Green Bay is 5-2 in throwback jerseys, with losses coming against the Cowboys in 2016 and the Ravens (Brett Hundley started at quarterback) in 2017. 

4. Smith’s Streak at Stake

Preston Smith’s impressive seven-year streak is in jeopardy going into Sunday’s matchup against his former team. In his career, Smith has yet to miss a game, playing in all 107 contests (including five in the postseason). While Smith has yet to practice this week, the team is giving him up until game time before making a decision. 

Smith was drafted by Washington in the second round (38th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. He tallied 24.5 sacks, 59 quarterback hits, and 168 total tackles during his four years with the team. Now in his third year with the Packers, Smith is returning to his 2019 form after a down season in 2020. He had a career-best 12 sacks in 2019, and in total has 18 sacks, 111 total tackles, and 40 quarterback hits through two and a half seasons in Green Bay. 

5. Spooky Season with Scary Terry

If there’s one player on the Washington offense that can strain the Packers defense, it’s third-year receiver “Scary” Terry McLaurin. His 57 targets more than double the second-highest target on the team (running back J.D. McKissic with 28). McLaurin has 33 receptions for 428 yards and three touchdowns through six weeks and is the clear favorite of quarterback Taylor Heinicke. However the Packers go about trying to shut him down (potentially letting Eric Stokes shadow him?), the defense is in for a challenge. 

The Washington offensive line has done a nice job keeping Heinicke upright and giving him time to find his weapons (like McLaurin), having only allowed six sacks (five on Heinicke) all season. Getting pass rush production from a Packers front that arguably played its best game of the season against the Bears last Sunday is paramount. Green Bay has 14 sacks and 37 quarterback hits through six games. 

6. Next Man Up Mentality

Earlier this week, quarterback Aaron Rodgers compared the start of this season to another memorable year in Green Bay, given the number of injuries the team has faced already through six weeks. “This season is beginning to remind me a little bit of a season over a decade ago where we had a number of injuries, and over the course of the season we added a number of pieces to the mix that ended up playing a big role down the line,” Rodgers said, of course referring to the 2010 Super Bowl season. 

Edge rusher Whitney Mercilus is the most recent example of the team continuing to add talent to the locker room, with linebacker Jaylon Smith and cornerback Rasul Douglas also being added as recently as a few weeks ago. With All-Pro Jaire Alexander on injured reserve and veteran Kevin King nursing a shoulder injury, Douglas played 85% of defensive snaps against the Bears this past week opposite Stokes. Safety Henry Black also had to fill in for Darnell Savage who left Sunday’s game with a concussion. 

Rodgers has talked in multiple post-game pressers about the team needing to get healthy, but also called the five-game winning streak “character wins” for a banged up team, with players that weren’t even on the roster to start the season contributing and playing huge minutes for Green Bay. The good news, at least, is that the team does seem to be getting healthier overall. All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari is back practicing for the first time since New Year’s Eve, and while both likely won’t play on Sunday against Washington, the team could be getting wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling back off injured reserve soon, too. 

The Packers will face Washington at 12:00 p.m. CST on Sunday before traveling to Arizona on a short week to play the (currently) undefeated Cardinals. After that, they’ll have a mini-bye to hopefully get healthier before another road game versus the Chiefs. 

 

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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.

7 points

Comments (17)

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

October 22, 2021 at 07:29 am

We'll see how Douglas holds up the rest of the way, but he might be a candidate for a contract post-2021. He may come very inexpensively and would be a decent 3rd outside CB.

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Archie's picture

October 22, 2021 at 07:58 am

Agreed. I was impressed with his performance last week. Good tackler too.

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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:04 am

Let’s see if he starts, and get a bigger sample size with respect to his perimeter capabilities. He is definitely a good tackler by cb standards. Could he be an inside option as well?

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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:22 am

I would put Stokes on McLaurin all game if he stays in the perimeter for two reasons, the most important being that Stokes is probably faster than him and also that McClaurin isn’t a great away from body catcher. A big corner with athleticism can impede him catching. A fast one has the chance to limit his gain if he does. With Alexander out, Stokes on him would seem by far the best match up. Limit McLaurin and WFT will have a much harder time.

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HawkPacker's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:06 am

Great point CW. You always have a lot to offer in your posts.

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jont's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:32 am

Looking at the 'skins I see another weak team, and given GB's injury situation this has to count as a minor blessing in the schedule.
Their D isn't as good as Chicago's; their O is a bit better. They have no true impact players.
On defense, IMO, DE Young is their best, but he hasn't shown anything special in the past couple of games. If the Packers' O-line executes, Rodgers will have time and A.J. & AJ will be able to run.
Heinikce is a decent QB; I think he's under-rated, because he doesn't get a lot of help. McLaurin is a good receiver, probably a #1 on a lot of teams, but I think he gets some of his numbers because they have no one else to throw to. On the ground, McKissic gets carries and checkdowns and yardage. He's solid but not a game breaker. Gibson is back off a minor injury, and I gather that Washington fans have high expectations for him, but this might be more hope then evidence-based.
As with last week, a respectable performance by the Packers' D will mean a victory.

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HawkPacker's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:08 am

I don't think we can downplay any NFL team as they can rise to the occasion at any given time. They have a lot of talent, especially on the defensive line.

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HawkPacker's picture

October 22, 2021 at 09:10 am

A lot of people that I have talked to like the throw back jerseys. I am the exception. I don't see what they add to the game as I really like the regular jerseys. I wish I know how much these jerseys cost. I would rather they take that money and donate them to some veteran's organization or some other worthwhile charity. I am sure I will get a lot of down votes but these are my feelings. Thanks.

2 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 22, 2021 at 10:49 am

I’m ambivalent about the throwback jerseys. As to looks, I will judge when I see them in the field. The odd thing about this one is it’s neither the first green and gold uniform nor was it a celebrated era. But in the end, it’s what the players wearing them do that matters.

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Since'61's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:05 am

HawkPacker, I'm not crazy about the throwback jerseys either. It's just a marketing gimmick to sell more paraphernalia and create another revenue stream for the teams and the league.

As a member of a BoD for a veteran's organization I appreciate your point about donating the extra money to veterans organizations. Be well. Thanks, Since '61

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Leatherhead's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:07 am

😎. If talent wins, how do you explain their ineptitude on defense? There is much more than talent involved in winning, and it’s worth remembering.

😎. This is what a bad defense looks like. Does it look like the Packers defense? Ok, good, you can see the difference. Kindly refrain from describing the Packers defense as “pathetic, inept, useless, embarrassing and godawful”. An above average offense, at home, against Washington, should have no problem reaching 24 by halftime.

😎. Pass defense starts with guys who can cover and tackle. Pressure is great, but if guys are open, you’re gonna get burned. Amos, Alexander, Savage, Stokes, Sullivan, King,…..this is a decent group…..if we can get them all on the field.

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Minniman's picture

October 22, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Interesting points Leatherhead - some pause for thought there.

I watched the post practice press conferences 2 days ago. It was interesting listening to mike smith (olb coach) and joe Barry both praise the defensive fronts unselfishness in keeping on task and not forfeiting their assignments by just chasing sacks (in this case during run plays - when the emphasis is on compression and containment over busting around the corner into [an empty] backfield).

Matching this with MLF’s insistence that his skill position players be both capable AND willing blockers. In contrast to some of the pre-season ‘static’, the 2021 Packers seem to be building an identity based on unselfishness and grit over stat-seeking.

…….just an observation. Perhaps premature. We’ll see after this next 5 game stretch.

It reminds me of that old adage though that “a champion team will overcome a team of champions”.

3 points
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Since'61's picture

October 22, 2021 at 11:11 am

Given the rankings of the WFT defense in points and yards it should be a good day for the Packer offense, especially playing at home. Build an early lead and then keep the ball on the ground and churn up the clock. If our defense maintains its recent level of play we should be in control of this game from the beginning.

No letdowns, keep foot on the gas and take of business. GPG! Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 22, 2021 at 08:00 pm

Their front is solid. I liked Sweat in '19 as a rush/move guy, but the Pack signed P. Smith as a veteran presence. Their back seven is in doubt. I want the Pack to keep building the team confidence in measured steps like a glacier. It all starts up front and the Pack has both lines carrying the load.

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splitpea1's picture

October 22, 2021 at 12:22 pm

1. QB hits: The WFT defensive front does make me a little nervous. Don't play with fire and minimize the deep drops--easier said than done, of course.

On our side, Gary does have 11 QB hits. While that is impressive, I'd still love to see a Clark-like performance sometime soon, like maybe in the next game or two.

3. Burn those bush-league navy throwbacks, especially if we win. And once again, MLF needs to devise a game plan to keep AR's jersey clean.

5. Heinicke has thrown 6 INTs in his 5 starts, so a combination of good pressure and alert coverage might net us a couple.

6. We love the 2010 season, but we also lost to a pretty lousy Redskins team--don't want to see it happen again.

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dobber's picture

October 22, 2021 at 01:18 pm

"1. QB hits: The WFT defensive front does make me a little nervous. "

Don't give up on the run.
Make WFT respect it on play action.
Gett he ball out on time and on rhythm.

1 points
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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 22, 2021 at 01:57 pm

5. This wouldn't be a bad game to start upping the blitzes in q3/4 if we're playing from a lead. There were a couple games in 2020 where GB went into Q4 with a lead and Pettine just brought the house on a regular basis and I'd love to see that from this group.

1 points
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