2019 Week 3 - That's What Cheese Said

The defense is rolling but the offense is still looking for consistency as the team sits at 3-0 through the first three games of the 2019 season. 

There’s only so much the Packers can say about the continuously dominant performances from the defense. The unit had six total sacks, three takeaways, three passes defensed, and allowed only 20 yards total from the Broncos in the fourth quarter. That’s closing out a game the right way. 

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers acknowledged the different feeling on the team right now, sitting at  3-0 to start the season. 

“I think all of us who have been here a significant amount of time realize how different this feels. It’s just a different energy. It’s palpable. It’s contagious. It’s charismatic. It’s fun. It really is. It’s been a lot of fun.”

That said, Head Coach Matt LaFleur still has higher expectations for the team. 

“There’s no doubt that everybody can do better, and again, it starts right here,” he said pointing to himself. “It starts with me.”

When asked what it means to be a first-time head coach currently sitting at 3-0, LaFleur was level-headed. “To me it’s just, you’ve gotta take each game and wipe the slate clean. We’re 0-0 this week and we’ve gotta go win a football game and go 1-0.” 

While everyone in the locker room agrees that 3-0 is the best place to be three games into the 2019 season, the team still knows there’s plenty more for them to achieve. 

Running back Jamaal Williams had a big game on offense, collecting 59 rushing yards on 12 attempts for a 4.9-yard average, and two receptions for an additional 27 yards. 

On the offense’s grade for Week 3, Williams said, “I’d say better than last week, but we’ve still got more to improve.”

His quarterback agreed. Rodgers gave praise to Williams specifically for having such a solid showing, while also acknowledging Aaron Jones and his two-touchdown performance.

“I do feel good about the way we’re progressing,” said Rodgers at his post-game presser. “Very positive to be up here again, 3-0, still haven’t played a 60-minute game on offense yet.”

He singled out Marquez Valdes-Scantling as someone the team specifically needs more consistency from, despite his touchdown on the team’s free play. 

“We need continued consistency out of Marquez because he’s dynamic with his ability to get down the field.”

Rodgers also added that four targets are not enough for Davante Adams, while mentioning that he needs to get tight end Jimmy Graham more involved in the passing game, too. 

“We’ll keep getting better on offense. I think there’s a lot to be happy about.”

LaFleur was quick to give his quarterback praise at the podium, despite a lot of emphasis being placed on the defense once again. 

“I think he’s done such a great job in terms of, first and foremost, taking care of the football. That’s the quarterback’s number one responsibility,” said LaFleur. 

“I don’t think he’s satisfied with where we’re at offensively, and neither am I, but I think he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do, and he’s done a good job with that.” 

As LaFleur noted, the offense needs to be more consistent in putting Rodgers in a position to make plays downfield. He also said the team needs to stay out of so many second-and-long situations. 

Even still, the team is protecting the ball when it counts. Rodgers acknowledged that the offense protected the football well in Weeks 1 and 3. Ball security and winning the turnover differential go a long way in winning football games. 

Despite the hot and cold showing on offense, Rodgers also took time to praise his offensive line for doing a great job against a dominant Broncos pass rush. 

“I have to say, this is one of the cleanest games my jersey has ever looked. I took basically one shot, I hit the ground one time, so I’m ecstatic,” said Rodgers. “To go home with my body feeling this good is a credit to the offensive line for sure.”

That will hopefully go a long way towards Rodgers’ recovery with the team gearing up to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday Night Football. 

Flipping to the other side of the ball, LaFleur once again highlighted Preston and Za’Darius Smith for their performances on defense. Preston finished the game with three sacks and a forced fumble, while Za’Darius added another two sacks to the team’s total. 

“Those guys have done a tremendous job, and I’ve said it before. Not only on the field but in the locker room as well,” said LaFleur. 

The duo also combined for six QB hits on the day.

“We always go out there with the mindset that we’ve got to make plays,” said Preston.

Even rookie first-round draft pick Rashan Gary got in on the action with a sack of his own. He also recovered the team’s forced fumble.  

“Rashan got a sack. ‘Z’ got a sack,” continued Preston, though Za’Darius quickly corrected him to point out that he had two sacks on the day. 

“We don’t care if the offense is leaning on us. We’re going out there to do the best we can do. We’re going to play to the level and the expectations we have for ourselves and one another. And we’re going out there and being a badass defense,” finished Preston. 

The energy is consistent throughout the locker room, with safety Darnell Savage, the team’s second first-round pick, snagging his first career interception against the Broncos. 

“We want to go 1-0 every week. Our new goal is to go 1-0 next week so we can be 4-0,” he said. 

The players are also quick to give credit where credit is due, with Savage giving the big guys up front most of the recognition for his pick. To him, their pressure allowed him to get in a position to make a play on the ball. 

“You never know when the turnover bug is going to hit the locker room,” said veteran corner Tramon Williams. “They’re coming in bunches.”

He added that in years past, the defense didn’t have as many playmakers to rely on. Gutekunst and company made sure that was a point of emphasis over the last few years, both through the draft and free agency. 

“We talk about being extremely special as the year goes on,” said linebacker Blake Martinez. “We’re going to be a defense that wants to hold teams to zero points, and we know we can.”

Sights are set high for this defense and what it still can become. At his locker, Rashan Gary was asked about the defense’s ceiling. His answer was straightforward.

“You can’t put a ceiling on it.”

Through three games, the defense already has eight takeaways. 

“It’s almost to the point where I’m still tired from when I was on the field,” joked Davante Adams about the defense consistently giving the offense the ball back. 

“How our defense is playing, our offense just wants to be as good as our defense,” said Jamaal Wiliams.  

“We’ve played three obviously good defenses, and good coordinators, but that’s the NFL these days. We don’t have any excuses, we’ve just got to be a little more consistent,” said Rodgers. “Excited that you say that and you’re also 3-0.”

According to Rodgers, special teams and defense are playing really well, and the offense is playing “well enough.” Ideally, though, all three phases would be playing up to their full potential. 

“I feel really good about the offense and the potential, but potential has got to start getting closer to the actual performance,” he said. 

“I obviously love having a defense, but I don’t take any satisfaction in having an okay performance. I want to have greatness out there,” said Roders. 

“We’ve played a couple playoff teams already from last year, good teams, good defenses that we’ve beat, so it’s been a winning recipe so far.” “If we want to ultimately get to where we all dream about going to, we’re gonna have to play a little better on offense.”

When Jamaal Williams was asked how 3-0 sounds, he didn’t mince words. 

“It doesn’t sound as good as 4-0, so we’re just going to keep pushing.”

 

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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 (12)

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Bure9620's picture

September 24, 2019 at 03:55 pm

Would love to see the Packers or any NFL team for that matter use the HIPPO formation. (See Wisconsin vs. Michigan)

That's what cheese said

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EddieLeeIvory's picture

September 24, 2019 at 04:21 pm

3-0 is great & I loved seeing the OFFICIAL BETTING ODDS today for winning divisions.

We are much higher than Minny & Chicago who are tied at +220. We are about +120 IIRC.

All that sunnyside aside, our run defense has to improve drastically or else that will be what kills us. It actually DID vs Minny until their idiot coach told Cousins to throw into the end zone on 1st down as we were getting carved up left & right up the middle.

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mamasboy's picture

September 24, 2019 at 04:22 pm

I really like her articles!

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Packer_Fan's picture

September 24, 2019 at 04:29 pm

Yes, I like Maggie's articles too.

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ricky's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:18 pm

Right now, Gutekunst looks like Wolf or the early years of Thompson (before he had his medical issues). Draft well, move around in the draft to get the guy you believe in, and spend you FA money wisely. Also, let a former starter go a year early and replace them with a younger, cheaper player. And, yes, he did sign Graham, and that was a mistake. The guy is between good and very good, not perfect.

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albert999's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:39 pm

Watch for Redskins to fire Gruden mid season and replace him with Mike McCarthy maybe?

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splitpea1's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:55 pm

No self-respecting coach would take that job. What a dreadful organization--and it all starts at the top.

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Demon's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:48 pm

Not a chance!!! If Gruden would be canned eith the OC or DC would take over.

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Demon's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:49 pm

Not a chance!!! If Gruden would be canned eith the OC or DC would take over.

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Demon's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:49 pm

Not a chance!!! If Gruden would be canned eith the OC or DC would take over.

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Demon's picture

September 24, 2019 at 09:50 pm

Not a chance!!! If Gruden would be canned eith the OC or DC would take over.

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stockholder's picture

September 24, 2019 at 05:55 pm

Forget the Heart Transplants! The Honeymoon still has legs. Nobody is sweating the small stuff. Breathing room is important. We haven't seen this commitment in years. Let the waltz play on.

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