Packers 35 Texans 20: Game Balls and Lame Calls

If this is the future, Pack will be okay.

If the 2021 NFL salary cap prevents the Packers from resigning key free agents like David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones and Kevin King, it might not be the end of the world after all. Minus all three of those players, Green Bay found enough quality depth to convincingly whip the Houston Texans 35 to 20. Granted, the Texans are a hot mess now off to a 1-6 start, but they still had Deshaun Watson, who did his best Russell Wilson impersonation and tried to single-handedly get Houston back in the game.

The Packers defense put together its most complete effort of the season, even forcing a turnover! (Remember those?) The offense awakened from a second half coma to put the game away with a 4th quarter touchdown, and Green Bay righted the ship to advance to 5-1.

 

GAME BALLS

Davante Adams

He was pretty much open on every play, particularly when crossing the field.   His final line was 13 catches for 196 yards and 2 scores.   That included a tremendous catch on a key third and long deep in Green Bay's own territory where he had to wrestle the ball away from the defender, and a nifty run after the catch on a 45 yard scoring strike in the third quarter.   It does bother me a bit that the Pack is so dependent on Adams in the passing game.   They really miss Alan Lazard, or some sort of consistent alternative to number 17.   But on this day Adams was more than enough.

 

Jamaal Williams

Can he be a number one RB?   Make no mistake.   This was an audition.   The jovial 4th year veteran carried 19 times for 77 yards and a touchdown.   He also caught 4 passes for 37 yards.   I wouldn't call him explosive, but he always runs hard, does a decent job at pass protection, and seems to get better in the receiving game every time out.   Probably not quite talented enough to be a feature back, but I sure like having having him on this team.   Oh, did I mention?   He's also in the final year of his deal.

 

Billy Turner and Rick Wagner 

I will confess I winced when Green Bay lined up for its first play from scrimmage and I saw Turner at left tackle and Wagner on the right.   I couldn't help thinking this was going to be another long day for Aaron Rodgers.   But both tackles held up pretty well.   No sacks and a manageable number of pressures.   Turner is proving to be extremely versatile and that is a pleasant surprise.   I certainly will not jump to the conclusion that we can survive without Bakhtiari long term, but I feel much better about having at least a serviceable replacement until he comes back.

 

The Entire Defense 

I don't know that anyone had a big individually outstanding day, but several players took turns making a big play when it was needed.   A sack or a pressure from Zadarious, the 4th down stop from Preston Smith, Adrian Amos sack to kill a 4th quarter drive, Vernon Scott tackle on third and goal, Henry Black hit causing the fumble that ended the game.   Now that's a good solid team effort.   I still don't like the passive approach that allowed the Texans to basically walk down the field for a consolation score when it didn't matter, but on the whole they were much more active and tackled much better.

 

Honorable Mentions

Aaron Rodgers threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns.   He made some really good decisions, but he wasn't very accurate in this game.   He was consistently throwing behind open receivers.   The toss to a wide open Robert Tonyan should have been a touchdown but Tonyan had to go to the ground to make the catch.   Davante had to turn his back to the goal line to reel in his 45 yard score but saved it with a great move after the catch.   Even the little TD flip to Jace Sternberger was off target, as Jace had to reach up and deflect the ball back to himself.   But it's hard to argue with that stat line.   An inaccurate Rodgers is still better than 80 percent of the other quarterbacks in the league.

J.K. Scott was having a great day punting the ball until his last kick was blocked.   The block wasn't his fault, as Dexter Williams totally missed his assignment.

 

LAME CALLS 

Getting away from the run  in the second half

With a 28 to 7 lead in the third quarter, the Packers' offense clearly lost its rhythm.   Three straight possessions failed badly.   Against this team, it felt like Green Bay could get back on track by pounding the ball and staying conservative.   But LaFleur kept calling pass plays and the team simply couldn't execute them.   Against a better team it might have let the opponent back in the game, but the Packer defense was too strong on this day.

 

Playing Ty Summers ahead of Kamal Martin

Okay, this is picky I know, but when Krys Barnes went down, Mike Pettine's first choice was Ty Summers at ILB.   Summers was immediately exposed, and on the next series, Pettine wisely put Kamal Martin in the game.   Martin didn't make any splash plays but was in on a couple of tackles and seemed solid considering it was his first NFL game.

 

Endless shots of a depressed J.J. Watt 

Hey, I love J.J., former Badger and all, but it was getting pretty tiring seeing shot after shot of him hanging his head, wincing, pacing, suffering.   I know the TV production crew has to develop story lines but JJ was bringing me down.   Maybe he'll cheer up if the rumors about being traded to the Packers are true.

 

SHORT YARDAGE 

•  It looked like Jamaal Williams needed to tighten the chin strap on his helmet after it came flying off twice in the first quarter.   Perhaps a by-product of playing hard?

•  As mentioned previously, I love J.J. Watt, but I hope the Packers don't trade for him.   They don't have the money and Watt just isn't that productive anymore, this game being an example.

•  I had a brief Brandon Bostick flashback when Chandon Sullivan muffed the onside kick and it was recovered by Houston.   Thankfully, the Texans are not the 2014 Seahawks.

•  Not sure why so many Packer fans clamor for more A.J. Dillon.   Jamaal is clearly a more effective runner at this point.

•  Snapshot of the game:   Aaron Rodgers' huge smile and congrats to Malik Taylor after the latter's TD catch.

 

THEY SAID IT

Matt LaFleur (on all the Packer fans in the stadium):   "It's always fun to come into another team's stadium and the support we have from our fans is unbelievable.   Lot of Go Pack Go chants, and I think that provided us with a lot of energy."

Davante Adams:   "It's one thing to feel good about a play on Thursday or Friday, but once you get out there and it looks the exact same way as you drew it up and get the coverage that you wanted and all that, that's when you're in a really good spot."

Aaron Rodgers:   "Offensively we had some plays that definitely leave your head scratching, but we scored 35 points, we had a really good day on third down, we were really good in the red zone.   So it was one of those kind of strange games where you're definitely productive but there was more out there that we could have had."

Adrian Amos (on playing soft with a big lead):   "They have a lot of speed over there and they rank high in explosive plays as well, so that was our job and, yes that was our plan to eliminate those big plays that they are accustomed to having." 

 

 

 

     

 

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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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Comments (29)

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

October 26, 2020 at 06:17 am

"it might not be the end of the world after all."

The Texans are a bad, bad team. The Packers went in and did their jobs. But, beating the Texans isn't definitive proof of anything.

I don't want Watt either unless the picks and money is half of what's being discussed. A 4th round pick and a pay cut to 8 million a year based on what I saw from him Sunday against back up tackles.

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Archie's picture

October 26, 2020 at 06:52 am

Texans put it all on the line last week vs TEN and lost in OT. At 1-5, they gave up this week.

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Kevin Carpenter's picture

October 26, 2020 at 07:33 am

They went toe to toe with one of the best teams in the league last week and lost at the last moment. They've had a very tough schedule. Now I'm not saying they're a great team, but their offense is nothing to sniff at. They can be extremely dangerous with all of their playmakers. The Packers did a good job keeping them in check.

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Renllaw's picture

October 26, 2020 at 06:40 am

Glad to see the pack bounce back and take care of business against a bad team. Concerning the "Short Yardage" take on Dillon. We don't know yet that "Jamaal is clearly a more effective runner at this point.", Dillion is the type of back that I would imagine gets better with a bigger workload by wearing down the opposing D and forcing them to "make business decisions". I don't think we will know until Dillon gets a 17+ carry game. And I would like to see him get at least one game this season where he gets that load so we can make a more educated decision on Williams and Jones this offseason.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 26, 2020 at 06:44 am

The Packers seemed to play a lot of zone and were good at immediately tackling receivers. Perhaps that was to prevent big plays and to keep Watson from killing them with his legs.

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porupack's picture

October 26, 2020 at 07:17 am

While Texans aren't a good team, they have a dangerous offense with Watson and maybe the most dangerous WR corps #-1-#4. Packers CB corps took care of their top WRs, and thus Watson really had mostly the wiley vet Cobb. Tackling was better for most of the plays....with a few lapses. Still frustrating that Packers can't contain the dual threat QBs, which will certainly populate the post season. Better improve there with more stunts, spies and contingencies to trap an escaping QB.

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Minniman's picture

October 26, 2020 at 02:52 pm

I thought that the Packers Defensive front played better this week, which helped to clog the gaps between the OT and OG.

I think that the Packers OLB's not trying to perpetually outside bull rush the OT's (a la CM3) also helped with this containment.

Per Football Outsiders the HOU O-line is a bottom 1/3 unit so far this year in pass and run, so this was to be expected.

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porupack's picture

October 26, 2020 at 07:22 am

Coach Lafluer gets kudos. The game plan and play designs is more the reason why Rodgers was not sacked and had a pretty clean protection. Brilliant pre-snap movement, heavy run, RPOs, and creative shift of RBs in and out of WR spots. Wow. Very impressive, and it really helped Turner and Wagner look very good against a good pass rush, and make JJ Watt hang his head all night.

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Guam's picture

October 26, 2020 at 08:02 am

Kudos to the Packers run defense- that's two weeks in a row where the Packer run defense showed up and played well. Houston has a couple of decent backs; an offensive line that is uneven but has talent in places; and WRs that are not going to allow the safeties to play close to the line. And the Packer front seven stuffed Houston's rushing game. A welcome change. The real test will be in two weeks when the SF rushing attack confronts the Packer D, but at least I have hope now.

I love watching Davante Adams play WR and he is clearly one of the better #1's in the league. However I worry when the Packers do run into a true shutdown CB, will other Packer WRs step up? Lazard was starting to prove he could be a reliable #2, but with him out indefinitely the Packers need MVS, ESB, Taylor or Shepard to step up and they haven't to date. Unfortunately I don't think the Packers have the cap headroom to trade for a quality #2 WR, so the options are limited.

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Guam's picture

October 26, 2020 at 08:06 am

Double post.

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x24's picture

October 26, 2020 at 10:43 am

Isn't it kinda up to Rodgers to make a #2? Last week some of us lamented his over reliance on Adams, this week SEEMED much the same story...

It will take some tape work to know if Rodgers was taking advantage of opportunities, or focusing on Adams from the snap...

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dobber's picture

October 26, 2020 at 10:46 am

"Isn't it kinda up to Rodgers to make a #2?"

He probably does that after his morning coffee...

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x24's picture

October 26, 2020 at 02:08 pm

Well dobber- you will ALWAYS be like a big #2 to me

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PhantomII's picture

October 26, 2020 at 12:40 pm

GB needs a legit #2 WR in case we run up against another good Defensive coach that doubles Adams. As you can see made all the 1st downs for packers Offense. If he get's double teamed by good defenders it's a very different game. I saw the routes Adams ran this game and they were all over the place which would make it hard to defend him. Good game plan by ML. Very poor one by Houston DC. Make a WR trade and DT trade Gute!!!!

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flackcatcher's picture

October 26, 2020 at 11:57 pm

Our big preseason signing. He opted out...

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packerbackerjim's picture

October 26, 2020 at 08:37 am

Game: FB Lovett with a punishing block pacing the way for a rushing touchdown.

Lame: Situational time management.

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egbertsouse's picture

October 26, 2020 at 08:49 am

I thought the secondary was better yesterday without King and Savage. At least at tackling. I’m beginning to view Savage as HHCD 2.0, floating around away from the play looking for tipped balls. Well, maybe that is an overstatement but he doesn’t like to mix it up and in Pettine’s defense you need that.

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PhantomII's picture

October 26, 2020 at 12:33 pm

I think Savage was given a starting job at least 2 years too early by the eye test. He has not earned anything, yet.

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pacman's picture

October 26, 2020 at 08:51 am

Great article. Covered it all. Hope the AR get back more on target like the first 4 games.

So what will Packers do when all the other teams double Adams? Even the announcers were amazed Houston didn't double him. EQ barely had any snaps. Maybe Adams needs to mentor MVS and how he got over his year 2 dropsies. Kumerow anyone?

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 26, 2020 at 09:11 am

Game Balls:

Rodgers - A good redemption day. He was off on some throws but overall was MUCH better then he was against the Bucs. The throw to Tonyan, if he hits him in stride its a TD. He was just off with Adams a couple of times. But the one down the sideline was a dime. And some others like MVS has the ball hit him in the hands on a key 3rd down. The one to Sternberger he put it about where he had to to complete it. Great one handed catch though.

OL - Shuffling guys around, they did really well overall. Houston's defense is not very good, so that helped, but they still have some good guys in the front. Anytime you play without Bakhtiari and have a good game offensively, that is a really good job done by the OL.

Barnes - He makes a huge difference for the defense. He plays all 3 downs really well. He makes a huge difference in the passing game and running game. The drop off from Barnes to Summers is astonishing.

Preston Smith - This was his best game of the year by far.

Lame Calls:

Ty Summers - One drive is all it took to see how good Barnes is and how not good Summers is. I get why Pettine didn't want to go to Martin in his first game back. But Summers inability to play forced his hand. Which in the long run perhaps will be a good thing. Getting Martin on the field in the long run could be a very good thing for the defense.

Short yardage:

While I agree about not trading for Watt (depending on price), I do think he would do better in GB then he is in Houston. Watt really doesn't have anyone else around him. Putting Watt next to the Smiths Brothers and Clark would allow Watt to get a lot more one on one opportunities.
Do we need Watt? no. Would Watt make our defense better? yes. Will we make that trade? no.

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SpikeHyzer's picture

October 26, 2020 at 09:17 am

Overlooked big play that helped set the tone:

Josh Jackson making an incredible 3rd down stop just a yard short of the marker on the Texans' first drive.

It was a good read and a solid tackle and it kept momentum on our side.

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

October 26, 2020 at 10:36 am

We should have drafted TJ Watt when we had the chance.

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justjan's picture

October 26, 2020 at 10:53 am

Get over it already.

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dobber's picture

October 26, 2020 at 10:48 am

RE: J.J. Watt

Yes, he's not who he once was (injuries and age), and yes, he costs too much to bring to GB, but he's a one-man show on that defense right now. They've got a couple pluggers on the DL and Mercilus who benefits from teams focusing on Watt. If Houston doesn't trade him while he's healthy and get some draft capital back, they're stupid...and I think he could help the Packers out in more of a rotational role, but he just doesn't fit under the cap, and the asking price is likely too high.

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ricky's picture

October 26, 2020 at 11:32 am

Back in 2007, the Texans signed an over the hill Ahman Green to a big contract. He'd been a great asset in GB, but those days were clearly behind him. He played two seasons, played in a total of 14 games, and ended up with less than 600 yards in total rushing. Now, some want to trade for Watt, once a dominant player who is clearly nowhere near the player he was. Not interested. You don't build a team by signing older, injury prone, less effective players with big salaries.

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Point-Packer's picture

October 26, 2020 at 12:37 pm

JJ Watt looked old and washed up, minus that one play in which Wagoner whiffed. On a cheap vet deal - sure. But that ain't happening.

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SwedeBayPacker's picture

October 26, 2020 at 01:58 pm

Meh Ball: Gary. I so desperately want this kid to be great, but so far he looks to be a one-trick pony. Just bull rush with no real finesse or technique, easily countered by any medium skilled defenders five out of six times. He's not terrible, but drafted at 12th? I don't know man...

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PhantomII's picture

October 26, 2020 at 03:19 pm

He tries hard. At least this year he is getting more reps. He's not a natural Von Miller type but People that try hard and are physically gifted and stay healthy usually succeed to some extent. I feel same way w/ Savage. All the physical gifting just not put it all together yet and dominant.

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HawkPacker's picture

October 26, 2020 at 04:01 pm

Totally agree SBP.

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