Coming into Sunday, if you had told this writer or most Green Bay Packers fans that Jordan Love would make his NFL debut, we would have expected it coming in positive circumstances. The Packers were favored against the New Orleans Saints, who looked to be deficient in many areas of the roster.
Instead, it was the Packers who were on the receiving end of a blowout loss, as New Orleans dictated terms throughout the first half on offense and made big plays in the third quarter to put the game away. That led to Love taking the field with more than ten minutes remaining in the game as he made his NFL debut.
Among the other interesting items in the playing time report for this week’s game is the Packers’ deployment of their five outside linebackers. Za’Darius Smith suited up for the game and played, initially only on passing downs but eventually working his way on the field in other situations as well. But the team gave Jonathan Garvin significant playing time while Chauncey Rivers even earned double-digit snaps in the Jacksonville heat.
Finally, the questions about the cornerback position will surely rage this week as Kevin King struggled mightily once again. Meanwhile, rookie first-round pick Eric Stokes was on the field for just a pair of snaps before garbage time.
Here’s the complete look at the Packers’ snaps in their 38-3 loss on Sunday.
OFFENSE (57 plays)
The Packers’ offense struggled to get moving in the first half, and through 29 minutes of game action they had just 12 plays to the Saints’ 36. The numbers evened out a bit as the game went on, but Green Bay never even really got out of its initial script in the first half and couldn’t get its real offense run at all. With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, the Packers brought in some backups with about 10 minutes left in the game, which allowed Jordan Love to make his regular season debut.
Aaron Rodgers 42, Jordan Love 15
Rodgers helped lead the Packers down the field for their only scoring drive of the game at the end of the half, delivering an absolutely perfect ball to Davante Adams to set up a field goal. But he then threw bad interceptions on the next two series, first throwing a bad ball under pressure from inside the Saints’ 10 that was behind Adams, then launching a YOLO-ball from his own goal line. All told, it went down as the fourth-worst game of Rodgers’ career by passer rating.
Love came in for most of the fourth quarter and completed his first passes as an NFL quarterback, going 5-for-7 for 68 yards. He unfortunately took a sack and fumbled in the red zone on his second series, robbing the Packers of a chance to at least score one touchdown on the day.
Aaron Jones 28, AJ Dillon 16, Kylin Hill 14
With no opportunity to get the running game going, Jones and Dillon were largely kept to a minimal impact on this game. Jones took the field for the first drive with Dillon taking some carries on the second, but each carried the ball just five times and gained less than 15 yards. Hill actually led the way with 19 rushing yards on four carries in garbage time.
Davante Adams 40, Allen Lazard 39, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 36, Malik Taylor 15, Amari Rodgers 15, Randall Cobb 15
The Packers played a lot of 11 personnel with the starters in the game, as Adams, Lazard, and MVS were on the field together almost exclusively early on. There’s a clear separation between the top three and bottom three on the depth chart, and Cobb’s first catch in his second tenure as a Packer came from Love, not Rodgers. Amari did make his first NFL catch, a 19-yarder from Love.
Adams led the team with five receptions on seven targets for 56 yards, while Cobb’s catch went for 32. No other player on the team hit the 20-yard mark.
Robert Tonyan 28, Dominique Dafney 19, Marcedes Lewis 15, Josiah Deguara 5
Green Bay’s tight end usage early on was a bit odd, as Tonyan was not on the field very much during their first two series. However, he became the primary option at the position later on with the team in catch-up mode. Instead, it is clear that the Packers wanted to get Deguara in the game and involved early, but a concussion in the third quarter knocked him out for the game. That and the insertion of the backups led to Dafney playing 19 snaps on offense, the second-most of any game in his young career.
Elgton Jenkins 57, Lucas Patrick 57, Josh Myers 57, Royce Newman 57, Billy Turner 57
The Packers rolled out the expected offensive line and let them play through the entire game on Sunday. Jenkins was mostly fine at left tackle, and his most notable plays (good or bad) were making a pair of tackles on both of Rodgers’ interceptions. The Packers allowed two sacks and seven quarterback hits in the game, less-than-ideal numbers and due at least in part to the play of the interior line.
DEFENSE (62 plays)
Kenny Clark 41, Dean Lowry 38, Kingsley Keke 31, Tyler Lancaster 29, T.J. Slaton 16
No matter who was on the field on the line on Sunday — and the Packers used three defensive linemen a lot — they struggled to hold the point of attack and anchor in the run game. That includes Clark, who was the best lineman on the team but who still was moved off his spot frequently. None of these players recorded a notable play rushing the passer either.
Preston Smith 38, Rashan Gary 37, Jonathan Garvin 27, Za’Darius Smith 18, Chauncey Rivers 11
The Packers put Preston Smith and Gary on the field regularly to start, spelling them with Garvin and Rivers in the Jacksonville heat. Za’Darius Smith’s playing time was very limited in the beginning of the game, as he was on the field only in obvious passing situations, but his snap count began to tick upwards in the second quarter after the Packers (and Gary in particular) began to lose contain on the edge.
In total, the group recorded no sacks and three quarterback hits: one by Preston and two from Gary. Za’Darius should have had another on a picture-perfect hit on Jameis Winston that helped force a Darnell Savage interception in the end zone, but Smith was inexplicably flagged for roughing the passer despite doing everything exactly as the NFL rulebook asks.
De’Vondre Campbell 56, Krys Barnes 47, Oren Burks 7
Based solely on the snap counts here, it’s clear that the Packers used a lot of base defense in Joe Barry’s first game as defensive coordinator rather than dropping a safety into the box as a nickel or dime linebacker. Barnes and Campbell combined for 14 total tackles, but few impact plays as most of those tackles were a few yards downfield.
Adrian Amos 60, Darnell Savage 51, Henry Black 14
Green Bay had just three safeties active in this game with Vernon Scott injured, and they will need to monitor Savage’s status this week as he suffered a shoulder injury late in the game. Savage should have recorded the Packers’ only turnover of the game if not for the phantom roughing the passer call mentioned earlier — it was a nice play on a tipped ball that he returned from the end zone out to near midfield.
Amos had nine tackles on the game, but looked lost on at least one of the Saints’ touchdown passes when he failed to look for the football and instead tried to tackle 6-foot-4 tight end Juwan Johnson in the midsection.
Jaire Alexander 56, Kevin King 56, Chandon Sullivan 35, Eric Stokes 8, Isaac Yiadom 6
Kevin King’s playing time will surely be one of the biggest storylines of this season for the Packers’ defense unless (or until) Stokes replaces him in the lineup. King allowed more touchdowns than he made tackles (one). Stokes played just two snaps before the team put backups in late in the game, and on one of those two snaps he recorded the Packers’ only pass breakup of the game.
Predictably, the Saints did not challenge Jaire Alexander in this game after going his way early and finding him blanketing his receiver. Instead, they picked on King and the safeties in coverage en route to 148 yards and five touchdowns from Winston.
SPECIAL TEAMS SNAP LEADERS
Burks 21, Ty Summers 21, Yiadom 21, Black 19, Stokes 17, Taylor 15, Dillon 13, Dafney 11, Barnes 10, Hill 10, Rivers 10