Packers 33 Panthers 30: Game Balls & Lame Calls

Packers make an easy win look very hard.

When the official turned on his mic and announced that the clock had run out and the game was over I jumped out of my chair and pumped my fist, letting out a loud victorious shout. In that moment, I didn’t care about who the other team was. I was just excited about winning a game. Wins have been hard to come by this season and I am determined to revel in every one of them, and you should too. 

There will be plenty of time to ponder the embarrassment of being taken to the brink by the worst team in the league. Plenty of time to ruminate about how it took two favorable officials decisions to keep the Packers from going into overtime against a 2-12 Panthers team.   But on this Christmas day, I am going to focus on seven wins. Quite frankly, that’s more than most predicted for this youngest team in the league.  And still two games left on the schedule, though it is difficult to believe Green Bay will win either one, given their level of play in the past three contests. 

It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the Panthers set season highs in virtually all offensive categories against the Packers’ defense.  Joe Barry’s troops couldn’t hold on to a fourteen point lead in the fourth quarter, and were within one second of having to defend in overtime.   The game certainly did nothing to enhance Barry’s job security, or Matt LaFleur’s for that matter. 

But Santa Claus brought the Packers the Christmas gift they needed the most, a healthy Aaron Jones.  His running provided enough of a ground game to allow the Pack to execute four consecutive scoring drives in the first half.   The rushing yards helped the offense stay afloat during a game in which Jordan Love was wildly inconsistent with his accuracy.   

You can no longer blame this on inexperience.  This is what we’re going to get with Love.  Spectacular plays such as his sidearm touchdown throw to Dontayvion Wicks while on the dead run out of the pocket.  His bullet that split two defenders to Tucker Kraft for a big play setting up the game winning field goal.  But then terrible over throws and misses on what should have been easy passes to Wicks, Jones and Samori Toure.  Looks like Love is determined to throw the ball while back peddling, and that will always result in a grab bag of successes and failures.  Watching number ten play quarterback for the Packers will never be for the faint of heart.  Just get used to it. 

GAME BALLS 

Aaron Jones 

The obvious pick, he ran for 127 yards on 21 carries.  The old explosion through the hole was back.  When a healthy Jones and AJ Dillon are playing in the same game, you can easily see the difference between the two.  Dillon looks like he’s running in slow motion by comparison, and he lacks the vision to find the hole, much less explode through it.  Jones is a home run threat that also makes the play action passes work. 

Romeo Doubs 

The season has been a bit of a disappointment for the second year receiver.  Coming out of training camp he looked like he was Love’s favorite target.  It hasn’t developed that way, but with Christian Watson and Jayden Reed out, and Wicks leaving the game hurt, somebody had to step up. And Romeo made two huge plays, running a sharp out route for a score, and then leaping to catch yet another underthrown long ball by Love that put the Packers in range for the go=ahead field goal.  He also drew a DPI in the second half.  He has been under utilized this season. 

Tucker Kraft 

For the second week in a row, he was a key element of the Green Bay offense, finishing with four grabs for 60 yards.  His ability to break a tackle after catching a dart from Love on the Packers’ final drive, and then rumble down field for a 21 yard gain turned the game winning field goal into a chip shot, if there is such a thing for the inconsistent Anders Carlson. Memo to Kraft: Please stop trying to leap over tacklers. It’s not worth the potentially disastrous impact on your back, hip and tailbone when you crash land back down to earth. 

Honorable mentions to Bo Melton who came out of nowhere with four catches for 44 yards, all in the first half, Preston Smith who had two sacks and a tackle for loss, Isaiah McDuffie and Quay Walker with a nice stop on fourth down.  

LAME CALLS 

Pass Defense 

Green Bay actually managed to keep the Panthers running game under control, holding them to 96 yards and no explosive plays except for a 21 yard jet sweep for a score.  But the fourth quarter pass defense was predictably woeful.  You would think that a three point lead with just nineteen seconds left to play and the Panthers on their own 25 yard line that you could feel reasonably safe.  Not with this defensive bunch.  It took just two plays to get to the Packers 30 yard line. Green Bay played a lot more man defense in the secondary and sent a lot more pass rushers in this game, but the ability to cover on the back end is just sorely lacking.  Jaire Alexander returned to the field but was beaten several times in single coverage.  He’s not the same guy.  Eric Stokes showed nothing in his return.  You know you’re in trouble when you’re actually missing Darnell Savage. 

Another Bad Challenge 

Matt LaFleur is either getting bad advice from the upstairs coaches, or he needs a pair of strong glasses with which to watch the replays on the scoreboard, because he seems to make silly challenges in every game.  His red flag on a Panther pass reception had no chance.  Replays clearly showed it was legally caught and then equally clear the receiver recovered his own fumble.  It cost the team a timeout that could have been critical in the final minutes. 

Special Teams Miscues 

Just head scratching how these units have declined.  Roughing the kicker on a fourth down punt, short kickoffs that resulted in returns past the 30 yard line, a missed extra point.  They got away with the errors this time, and Carlson’s 53 yard field goal and clutch game winner at the end at least gave us some hope for the future. 

THREE AND OUT 

-- My favorite scene from the game was AJ Dillon scoring a one yard touchdown and then running to the sideline and handing the ball to Aaron Jones who did all the work on the drive, rushing for nearly fifty yards.   

-- Center Josh Myers has taken his share of criticism this season, but on Jordan Love’s one yard touchdown sneak he deserves credit for driving his man straight backwards, allowing Love to comfortably fall into the end zone off his left hip. 

-- Ditto for tight end Josiah Deguara, who has all but disappeared from the Packers’ offense this year.  Deguara’s hustle to recover a fumble after a long reception by Doubs saved a drive that would end with Doubs latching on to a five yard scoring pass.  It takes a few unsung heroes making some hustle plays to win games like this. 

 

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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9 points
 

Comments (56)

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

December 25, 2023 at 07:28 am

"Memo to Kraft: Please stop trying to leap over tacklers. It’s not worth the potentially disastrous impact on your back, hip and tailbone when you crash land back down to earth. "

And not to mention, your schnutts!

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Grimm's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:33 am

My Buddy came up with "AirKraft" as he is always airborne.

4 points
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Rhah's picture

December 27, 2023 at 12:54 am

That's awesome. I'm going to use that!

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dblbogey's picture

December 25, 2023 at 05:51 pm

Protect Schwetty's balls.

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HawkPacker's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:32 am

"Looks like Love is determined to throw the ball while back peddling, and that will always result in a grab bag of successes and failures. Watching number ten play quarterback for the Packers will never be for the faint of heart. Just get used to it. "

I disagree. Every quarterback misses what look like easy passes and Love is no different. I think he has been very consistent in these last 6 games or so. Especially if you compare him to earlier in the year.

I don't think there is any getting used to what you are saying. If we did not have him playing as he is, I can guarantee you that our record would not be as good as it is!

And yes, you did strike a nerve as I am in full support of Love!

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PeteK's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:54 am

I fully agree Hawk. Every QB misses some throws (unless their playing against our D which should be an F) but makes the throws that really count into the END ZONE, and he is near the top with 27.

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jjbathgate66's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:32 am

Two games to go and the funny part I am still thinking they have a chance, the fans seem to care more than the players, crazy. The two star CB's couldn't give rats ass of the outcome yesterday as long as they got paid. Just wish for once they put their shoulders into tackling take one for the team, Holy crap what a concept, Hope the brass wash their hands of these guys throw in Savage and find someone in the 3-4 rounds like they do on offense.

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Bitternotsour's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:15 am

Both of those corners are playing despite recent significant injury. to expect them to ball out at 80% is pretty naive. I'm excited that both are back. Winning is good.

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:36 am

When you have a perennial flop as a DC, and you cannot count on his charges to help you win games, the Offense gets an outsized microscope.

Even the HC bemoans the O "failing" his "failing D" by generating 3 and outs in the second half. If the offense is perfect on every possession and keeps the D off the field, that is how the HC evaluates his DC's "success"!

His O didn't give his pathetic D enough time to rest on the sidelines in the second half, you see. The Disgusted Barry Ballers not only had to take the field and play a defense most of the players despise, but had to play it all tired and stuff!

Oh, the horror! What DC can coach solid defense on down and distance situations with such letdowns by the Offense?

I cannot believe MLF actually attempted to defend Barry in the debacle of the D stinking it up.

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MooPack's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:50 am

Wish I could give you a bountiful Christmas size amount of thumbs up.

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Bitternotsour's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:18 am

LaFleur is not wrong. Three second half 3-and-outs were absolutely as significant as the defensive failures. Give teams enough bites at the apple, and they will usually get some joy.

The offense needs to help the defense. That said, the safety play, oh man. They have to do better.

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Since'61's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:39 am

Merry Christmas to all of my fellow Packer fans and CHTV bloggers, to all the CHTV contributing writers, staff, Nags and Jersey Al.

Also Merry Christmas to all the services members of our Armed Forces, Police, Fire, First responders, Doctors and Nurses.

Everyone have a safe, healthy and Happy Holiday. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Starrbrite's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:46 am

Thanks ‘61—!!

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mrtundra's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:48 am

Same to you, Since '61!

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HawkPacker's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:59 am

So nice to see some positive words Since'61.

Merry Christmas everyone.

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NickPerry's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:08 am

Merry Christmas Since '61. I'm always happy to see one of my fellow Cheeseheads from the AllPackers.com days here another year.

Lets hope next year at this time were gearing up for our first of many REAL playoff runs under Jordan Love.

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Starrbrite's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:45 am

Ken, an excellent article and one with which I completely agree.
Love’s footwork is a problem imo. He throws off his back foot and often falling away; this has to be the reason (to disagree with Hawk), he misses more pedestrian throws than most.
On the other hand, his sidearm throws are often poetry in motion and reminds me a little of Stafford.
Merry Christmas everyone and…
Go Packers!!!

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HawkPacker's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:04 am

Starr I think, at least the times I remember seeing him throw off his back foot, that the receiver comes open when he is back pedalling back to avoid the rush and the only good option is to throw it off his back foot. I guess another option would be avoiding that rush and wait for someone else to get open, possibly run or throw the pass away.

I feel he knows not to throw it off his back foot but sometimes it is out of necessity.

Merry Christmas to you Starrbrite and your family as well.

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Starrbrite's picture

December 25, 2023 at 03:28 pm

I agree—some of those are definitely out of necessity.

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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:57 am

We needing why three down thumbs????

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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:58 am

Forget the “we needing”…

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CheesePuff's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:49 am

Credit to The Pack’s receiving corps for nabbing Love’s wildly inconsistent throws. It seems to be taking a toll on healthy receivers- good thing the position has depth. Joe Barry - yada, yada, yada. He’s staying as long as MLF wants him. And MLF stays as long as MM is satisfied with his performance. And as long as the Packers remain relevant going into January, that’s good enough for MM and the Packers’ Executive Committee.

-9 points
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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:59 am

As long as they have money payers in attendance…

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mrtundra's picture

December 25, 2023 at 07:59 am

Game balls: Aaron Jones with over 100 yards rushing! Thank you! Tucker Kraft, who is quickly becoming a fan favorite and has stepped up in Musgrave's absence. Bo Melton for having a solid game. I think he is GB's fastest receiver on the field when Watson is out. Would like to see more deep, over the top passes to him. Dontayvion Wicks for his efforts when both Reed and Watson are on the sideline and then Wicks gets injured.

Lame calls: Defense, by Barry, allowed this game to be way closer than it should have been. The challenge by MLF that was lost and cost us a crucial TO. Wonder if it was Barry calling for that challenge? If not, somebody else in that booth has to be chewed out. All the time spent on the review of the Doubs catch where he rolled out of bounds and appeared to let go of the ball. He had the ball in his other hand, on that play, and never lost control of it.

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Coldworld's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:37 am

Barry changed nothing on D. That simply makes me wonder if he understands what’s going on. It also shows LaFleur hasn’t had words or instructions or that Barry simply doesn’t listen or can’t incorporate them. Either way, that tandem is bankrupt to not even try to switch things up.

8 points
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PeteK's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:10 am

--- Ken, thanks for putting a positive and correct spin on this game because I was totally disappointed, it felt like a loss.
---I get to see other QBs play and they all miss some throws, but the really good ones come back and make throws that score.
--- As good as our WR are they are usually not wide open; I think we get used to watching WR against our D and think that it's normal.
--- Maybe Doubts has been under utilized, but his 8 TDs are easily in the top ten.

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Houndog's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:28 am

Nice article, Ken, maybe too nice!
While I appreciate your position, and understand it, you sound like one of our many "the Packers can do no wrong" fans that will give any of us a Thumbs Down for disagreeing with you. For starters:
"Wins have been hard to come by this season and I am determined to revel in every one of them, and you should too". No Ken, we shouldn't. This was the worst team in the league that we made look like contenders, it was an embarrassment, call it what it is.
"The game certainly did nothing to enhance Barry’s job security, or Matt LaFleur’s for that matter".
Who cares? I have no sympathy for either one, they don't deserve any security and both should be fired. Barry because he's incompetent, and LaFleur for allowing him to stay. We could be 'reveling' in more wins if not for these two clowns, and it's been this way for 2+ years.
"Carlson’s 53 yard field goal and clutch game winner at the end at least gave us some hope for the future."
Yes, but the hope for the future is that they find a dependable kicker, not a "hold your breath, here we go again" kind of guy.
What we saw yesterday was the evidence of Mark Murphy's near complete dismantling of almost everything Bob Harlan had built, a football powerhouse from a Football Corporation. He tore down the structure, installed himself as the dictator, and them ignored it while playing Real Estate Icon, he failed the team and he failed the fans.
It's time for a house cleaning, and it should start with Murphy, LaFleur, and Barry!

5 points
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lou's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:27 am

I would like to know if an organizational change of that magnitude that was replacing Harlan's structure which was the envy of the league results wise was presented to the executive committee/board of directors by Murphy and voted on as it should have been. All articles announcing the change did just that, announced the change only. Bob Harlan was the perfect person to lead the franchise, he answered his own phone, went door to door to get the stadium tax approved and absolved the structure in place that doomed the team for a few decades. Over the years I had some of the coaching staff and the Packers IT Director speak at some IBM events in regards to the NFL using automation and always wrote him a thank you, every time he answered back with a hand written note on a Packer Post Card, nothing but class. Merry Christmas to all.

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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:08 am

Kinda like the orange-haired dude!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:30 am

The Panthers Are The Clear Winners, and I'm mighty glad. The Carolina Panthers have won the title as the worst team in football. It would have spoiled my happy day if the Packers would have lost that game and put Worst Team In The NFL in doubt, but that was not to be. Ah, the joy of winning and we can enjoy the feeling all Christmas Day and the rest of the week. By the way, Merry Christmas to all of you Packer fans...I thank our team for helping to make it a Merrier one.

3 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

December 25, 2023 at 08:42 am

Merry Christmas to all CHTV Packer fans. Enjoy the day with Faith, Family and Friends!

This game unfolded exactly as I hoped. I told my wife before the game I hoped Love and Offense would play well...they did!.

I hoped the STs would not help lose the game...just do their job. Kinda did.

And I confess I did not want the Defense to play jaw dropping good D for a change because I feared MLF would use any sign of competence to rationalize a 4th year for bumbling Barry. They didn't and played even worse than their mean.

Good win. We have a QB and his top O weapon back on the field in AJ!

3 points
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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:11 am

All true except the AJ reference at the end…

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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:12 am

Or did you mean Aaron Jones… then I would agree… but not if it meant AJ Dillon…

1 points
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HawkPacker's picture

December 25, 2023 at 11:23 am

I am thinking Jones. I had to reread your post bjk as I was confused as to why your negative post re: AJ. Has to be Jones!

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LambeauPlain's picture

December 25, 2023 at 11:24 am

Jonesy my good man...I was referring to AJ (Aaron Jones)...who the Packers have greatly missed this season.

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Grandfathered's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:00 am

The show "The QB School" on Youtube has some discussions about footwork and Jordan Love. Love's underthows are a product of his footwork, for example. But Rogers learned the proper footwork and then felt free to improvise and throw sidearms and fadeaways with success. I would like to see Love be sound in his fundamentals before trying the funny stuff. Go Pack Go.

-1 points
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13TimeChamps's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:27 am

Lame call:

Repeatedly kicking the ball short of the endzone on kick-offs. This resulted in returns to the 30,31,33 yard lines IIRC. If this is by design, it's a stupid one. Just kick the damn ball into the endzone and have it come out to the 25 and avoid potential big returns and injuries in the process. You know....kinda like how almost every other team does it.

5 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 25, 2023 at 03:32 pm

Yes —exactly.

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bjkdad44's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:51 am

When isn’t he “wildly inconsistent with his accuracy”

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Fubared's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:35 am

Barrys bend dont break defense worked great yesterday. He had it planned to thee second, to let them get into field goal range and have the clock tick down to less then one second and the Packers sail off into the sunset with a monstrous victory. No other d coach in the NFL could have planned it to that perfection.

For sure Gutt will be offering him a big contract extension for his job this year. Seven wins is dam hard to come by and they've already set a goal of 8 wins for next year.

Some of the other goals: Jones to play in 7 games, Watson 8, Campbell to finally get over his mystery neck injury by mid season. Stokes will be healthy and able to watch the game while on the field and Jairre will tackle someone with his shoulder and miss many games while jawing on the sidelines how great he is. Bakt will be there to playing in every other game in pre season, not practicing too much and just being saved by LeFleur for........?
Wow 2024 season cant start soon enough. Merry Christmas.

-2 points
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stockholder's picture

December 25, 2023 at 10:37 am

They need game changers-
So it's find a different way.

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HawkPacker's picture

December 25, 2023 at 11:26 am

Here is a pretty simple statement.

If Barry has the defense play the same these final two weeks of the season as they have last three weeks, we will not win either game. Not even the Bears game!

1 points
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HarryHodag's picture

December 25, 2023 at 12:03 pm

Question: Devonte Wyatt---lots of talent. Brain dead mistakes.

Factoid: statistically, Jordan Love's first starting season is very close to Aaron Rodgers first season. I think Love has answered the question about his ability to lead the offense.

Wide receivers: the rookies have really made the offense good. Who would have thought it?

While the playoffs are likely out of the picture(even with a glimmer of life there) who would have thought going into the season that the team would even have had a shot at the playoffs? If the defense was schemed for success, the Packers very easily could have made the playoffs.

Gute and MLF will need to make some tough, but necessary calls in the off season on veterans and bring in yet another good class of rookies to move forward. Sorry 'fire everybody' folks, the management team stays in place one more season but if there's another .500 season next year change will be at hand. Matt LF must self-analyze to see whether he can game manage at championship level. Think Mike Tomlin.

-1 points
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croatpackfan's picture

December 25, 2023 at 12:41 pm

Ken I watched game as many here. And, by interesting turn out 2 days before Panthers game I was watching one of the 2009 Packers game, wild card game, were I can tell you FPQB had a dozen back foot throws that finished over or underthrown. As with Jordan Love, those throws very often happens when QB is under presure. So, please stop whining abot Jordan Love inacuracy. He has more than 65% completed passes in his last 8 games.

But I agree with you on Joe Barry D. He was visible upset when Young score that QB sneak TD. I wonder why he did not react prior that by calling TO if it was not his schematic position of players...

Man, I was so upset with how D played for 2 and half Q (from second half of 2nd Q to the end!).

Also, when Wicks went out of the game, MLF started to call college playbook schemes, no wonder why Panthers D was able to produce so many 3 and outs!

1 points
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CheesedDeadHead's picture

December 25, 2023 at 04:00 pm

It's funny how during most of AR's time it was the receivers running the wrong route when AR missed the throw, but with Jordan Love the assumption is always that he is inaccurate. Even when Love's receivers have less total combined experience than almost every singe receiver during AR's time with the Packers.

2 points
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RedMN's picture

December 25, 2023 at 01:21 pm

Love is progressing well in the second half of the season. Thats a huge relief. As the young offense gets more experience along with Love, things will only be trending up.
As far as the defense, new defensive staff is a must.
I don't think any one player selected early can save this mess. All the defense is trending down right now.
The team can't seem to maximize talent on the defensive side.
Offensively they have been making due with mid to late round players. Its time for Gute to start investing earlier on the offensive line and running back.
Finally, don't get me wrong I love speedy players however we are kind of turning into the raiders under Al Davis on the defensive side. Spend high picks on freak athletes with a high ceiling, the only problem is most don't ever come close to that ceiling. We need football players who have good instincts and awareness and can TACKLE for gods sake.

0 points
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Bitternotsour's picture

December 25, 2023 at 02:26 pm

Correct me if I'm wrong, but freak athletes with high ceilings is exactly what the draft should be about, no? Do you suppose these guys weren't making tackles in college. Gary, all those guys from the undefeated Georgia teams, geez, they all tackled like demons.

The problem in my mind is injury and scheme. Jaire Alexander was a preeminent physical presence prior to injury - he tackled like a demon. I still think that screen to Diggs in Minnesota where he blew up Theilen to take Diggs down. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5_QiB5MPBE at 3:30ish on this link. There's nothing wrong with Jaire that getting healthy won't fix.

Both corners - hurt. The issue primarily is a scheme that is not aggressive. That's philosophy, and that's ALL on LaFleur.

2 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 25, 2023 at 02:21 pm

Give this 3 minutes of your time. What kind of vibe do you feel watching Matt? Read the room. I see a combo of first year middle school cross country coach and bad wedding DJ. Wow.

https://www.packers.com/video/matt-lafleur-hands-out-game-ball-after-vic...

1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

December 25, 2023 at 02:39 pm

If you've had enough cocktails there's no such thing as a bad wedding DJ! Well, unless they're really into Peruvian pan flute bands.

3 points
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Starrbrite's picture

December 25, 2023 at 03:44 pm

Ha—-good one!

0 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 25, 2023 at 04:02 pm

Always kinda dug Zamfir, but he was Romanian.

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Bitternotsour's picture

December 25, 2023 at 02:42 pm

I don't know about you, but I'm committing to buy the steak knives.

1 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

December 25, 2023 at 04:01 pm

Yes, perfect!

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THESZOTMAN1's picture

December 25, 2023 at 05:06 pm

Game ball to Bo Melton. Good day for kid plucked off PS on game day. Considering injuries, might wanna keep him on 53.
Lame call: Play selection and execution on our next-to-last possession. It's 30-22. Any kind of score puts the game away. Failing that, at least run some clock and punt them deep. Instead we get: a 5 yard run, a screen pass that gets blown up, and in incompletion. That left Carolina with 5:47. Enough time to damn near take us to overtime. Lame.
The Szotman

2 points
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Curt's picture

December 25, 2023 at 09:17 pm

Only disagreement with your analysis was the "catch" which MLF challenged. It was effectively the same play as last week when the GB Touchdown was erased ... two feet down, not going to ground and ball was punched out. If incomplete last week should have been incomplete this week.

0 points
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