Look, Sunday wasn’t great. I think we can all agree on that. But surely there were some positive takeaways from the Green Bay Packers’ 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints?
Well, nothing super positive. But there were a few things that weren’t total disasters.
Here’s what our writers had to say when we asked them to spin Sunday’s loss in the most positive light.
Tyler Brooke: The OL did better than expected
I wrote about the Packers’ new-look offensive line prior to Week 1, and while the unit wasn’t perfect on Sunday, I thought they did better than expected.
Elgton Jenkins looked like a legitimate starting-caliber left tackle for the vast majority of Sunday’s game. The 25-year-old’s versatility continues to impress me, and that kind of chess piece on the offensive line is such a gift for the Packers' offense.
The two rookies had a couple of mistakes, particularly Royce Newman getting beat on Aaron Rodgers’ interception in the red zone. However, the tape showed that both held their own for the majority of the game. Newman even did a good job of looking for work in pass protection when no one was coming his way, although there were a couple of plays where he was a tick late recognizing stunts developing in front of him.
It was unrealistic to expect the offensive line to be an elite unit without Corey Linsley or David Bakhtiari, but the group did a solid job giving Rodgers time to throw against a formidable Saints front seven. Once Bakhtiari is healthy and the rookies have a few more games under their belt, the unit should be in excellent shape for the remainder of the year.
Shawn Wagner: A humbling opener could lead to a hungry team
The Packers looked lethargic, rusty, and not ready to play in all three phases on Sunday. Every great team needs to face adversity at some point in the season. Why not now?
Much of the offseason has been spent talking about Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and if this will be the closing of the Rodgers-era window. The 2021 season has been coined by many as “The Last Dance,” much of that title coming directly from the aforementioned players. But for a team that fell short of the Super Bowl once again last year, it was curious to see the overconfidence being displayed by the team’s veterans. For the majority of the starters, this was their first game action of the year after an uneventful preseason, and it was a complete disappointment that will be hard to forget quickly.
Maybe an immediate humbling will be exactly what this team needs to rally and re-examine their week-to-week assignments and priorities. This team is extremely talented, so my best spin (and my best hope) from this game is to see a hungry, re-energized team right away in Week 2.
Lindsay Hansen: The loss was so bad, they’re not going to let it happen twice.
Call me an optimist, but after the dreadful loss we all witnessed on Sunday, I think it may just be the fire they need to ensure that kind of game never happens again. My bet is they’re hungry to make up for their performance on Sunday and next week we’re going to get a glimpse of this team and what we can expect for the rest of the season.
It’s going to take a lot more than one loss, as humiliating as it was, to get me to lose faith in this team; I have a feeling we’re going to forget all about this game because we’ll be too busy celebrating. And let’s be honest, the Packers prefer to be the underrated team that flies under the radar — that’s their sweet spot, that’s when they create magic on the field.
Paul Noonan: They were punished for not addressing obvious weaknesses.
You know that Kevin King is bad and can’t be the starting outside corner for a championship contender. I know that Kevin King is bad and can’t be the starting outside corner for a championship contender. The only people that seem not to know this are the people in charge of the depth chart. Fortunately, King got repeatedly smoked, and if that keeps happening, they’ll actually have to fix it, and maybe then they can win a title.
The fact of the matter is that if your goal is to win a Super Bowl, you need to actually make some changes on this team, but complacency, nepotism, and comfort with familiarity led to a suboptimal offseason, and so we have Matt’s friend Joe at defensive coordinator, our old friend Kevin, and a lackluster pass rush and D-line. The only way to prompt them into fixing these issues is through high-profile public failure. It’s also the only way Aaron Rodgers may play better, as he despises public ridicule.
Sometimes, failure is a necessary component of success. It’s likely how Justin Fields ends up starting in Chicago, and if the Packers contend, it will be a big factor in motivating real change against comfortable stagnation.
Tex Western: Corey Bojorquez does look like an upgrade from JK Scott
We all wanted it to happen, we got it, and so far through one game, it looks like it will be the right move. Brian Gutekunst’s acquisition of punter Corey Bojorquez was the most exciting move the Packers have made involving specialists in years — perhaps decades — and it immediately looks to have been correct.
Sure, Bojorquez averaged a solid-if-unspectacular 44 gross yards per punt, but included in that mix was a 59-yard bomb (which still ended up with a net of 46), and a 47-yarder that took a nice bounce out of bounds at the 20. He also dropped another shorter punt inside the 20 that reduced his gross average a bit, but he had no obvious shanks and held the ball well on the Packers’ one place-kicking opportunity.
Without much to turn to on the positive side offensively or defensively, let’s be happy that the big move on cut-down day looks good for now.
Jon Meerdink: the rest of the NFC North also lost
It’s never great when the Packers lose, but it lessens the sting a little bit when the rest of the division also puts a zero in the win column on opening weekend. The Vikings went through all the trouble of rallying against the Bengals only to lose in overtime. Ha! Suckers. The Bears gave five snaps to their new franchise QB, saw him score a touchdown to pull them to within six points of the Rams, then said “nah, we’re good” and let the Rams score two more touchdowns. Lame!
Sure, the Lions were competitive against the 49ers, a team they probably have no business beating, but they still lost and there’s no such thing as a moral victory in the NFL.
If the Packers can’t win, I’d prefer that everybody else lose. I got at least part of that on Sunday.