A Week 9 tilt at a soccer stadium hardly echoes the historic moments the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers have experienced in Los Angeles. Green Bay won Super Bowl I in the Coliseum, also the site of an all-time collegiate performance from Rodgers where he completed his first 23 passes against No. 1 USC. A Ty Montgomery kick-return fumble cost Green Bay another chance to add to that legacy against the Rams last season. Matt LaFleur’s team will want to burn any record of their worst half of the season in Carson (importantly not LA), trailing 9-0 at halftime with sloppy pre-snap penalties and no energy or continuity in what has to be the worst this team has looked all season. The second half didn’t do go any better as the Chargers worked the Packers in a 26-11 whooping.
The Los Angeles Chargers ran over the Packers, blocked a punt, shut down Aaron Rodgers, and dominated Green Bay in every conceivable fashion. This game came down to a fundemental truth: the Chargers out-played, out-coached, and out-desired the Packers. Their best teams played well, while Green Bay’s frontline stars failed to come through.
Anthony Lynn made the decision to replace veteran offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt with Shane Steichen this week and that decision paid immediate dividends as the Chargers marched right down the field on consecutive drives, befuddling and outflanking the Packers defense at every turn. After a record-setting four consecutive games with fewer than 40 yards on the ground, L.A. matched that number in the first half alone. Green Bay gave up its league-leading 12th and 13th plays of 40 yards or more, and a creaky defense didn’t benefit from the California sun.
In all, the Chargers out-gained the Packers 442-184.
Chunk plays plague the Packers despite a more passive approach from Mike Pettine the last few weeks. Coverage busts, botched assignments, and missed tackles combine to undermine a talent group. When Preston and Za’Darius Smith create havoc, this defense hums. When they’re bottled up, the other nine guys can’t come through, a likely factor in the personnel shuffling we saw all afternoon. Tony Brown opened the game at right cornerback for Kevin King, with Tramon Williams also seeing some time there. B.J. Goodson, Oren Burks and Blake Martinez each played in various combinations, as did Will Redmond and Chandon Sullivan as nickel safeties.
Simply put, Pettine hasn’t found a combination of players who can play assignment-sure football on any kind of consistent basis. Outstanding red zone defense and turnovers have saved them all season, and did so once again Sunday, holding the Chargers to field goal attempts on their first three chances inside the 20.
Meanwhile, Rodgers and the offense didn’t run a play in Chargers territory until under six minutes left in the second quarter thanks to false start and holding penalties. When they were getting the play off in time, this offensive line couldn’t block Melvin Ingram or Joey Bosa, who made what felt like every play for what had been an inconsistent Chargers defense all season.
It was the first time in Aaron Rodgers career his team didn’t have 100 total yards through three quarters, even with the return of Davante Adams. The creativity, continuity, and fun of this offense the last month became nothing more than a California dream. With no verve, no intensity, and no life, this game reminded the Packers even an inconsistent team like the Chargers boast big-time players capable of tilting games.
Mike Williams tore up his matchup with Jaire Alexander for 111 yards on just three targets, including a pair of 40+ plays. Regardless of coverage, Philip Rivers sat back and picked up apart the secondary, putting up 294 yards on 10.5 yards per attempt, notching his first career win over the Packers, the Chargers’ first as a host vs. Green Bay, and just second the second win for the Chargers franchise all-time against the Packers.
Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram bewildered one of the best offensive tackle duos in football, but pre-snap penalties and missed assignments only compounded those problems. That pass rush kept Rodgers from being able to take advantage of immobile linebackers and backup safeties for L.A.
Any thought this Packers offense would seamlessly re-integrate Adams into the fold left in the first half. Adjustments must come to playcalling and gameplan from Matt LaFleur and it felt at times as though Rodgers forced the ball to Adams rather than make this progression reads. For a duo that executed in seeming lockstep most of the season, they failed to catch a rhythm. Penalties must be cleaned up and LaFleur will need to find a way to get Adams in the mix without disrupting what made this team so special without him.
Pettine, for his part, likewise lost his mojo in this game. Rivers never stressed in the pocket or pre-snap, reading the Packers’ mail all game. As he shuffles through personnel, offenses are finding in too easy to matriculate down field. There were fewer coverage busts, but odd playcalls and a lack of aggression once again marked this team. Playing as healthy as they’ve been all season removes any excuse in terms of personnel concerns. This is more or less the same team that looked so impressive the first month of the season.
The half-full beer approach would be to say this team needed a reset, a reminder of the intensity every week requires in the NFL. They’re 7-2, still clear of the rival Vikings in the NFC North after Minnesota lost to Matt Moore in Kansas City on Sunday. The half-empty beer would point out the concerning trend of a defense unable to get stops with anything resembling consistency. It doesn’t end their season, but the version of the Packers we saw Sunday they’d like to very soon forget.