Well, they did it. The Green Bay Packers came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat the New Orleans Saints in the 2023 home opener, and Jordan Love’s first game at Lambeau Field as the starting QB. This was the most disgusting game I’ve seen from the Packers in a while; let’s get into it.
Winner: RB Aaron Jones
Congratulations to Aaron Jones for ensuring AJ Dillon never sees the ball again once Jones returns from injury. Dillon totaled 33 yards on 11 carries and was tackled for a loss of six yards by a 199-lb DB at one point. Whatever Aaron Jones wants to stay in GB next season, give it to him.
Loser: Offensive Line
The drop-off in talent between the starting linemen and backups is stark, to say the least. The line looked messy at times, racking up penalties early in the game, and giving an already-struggling offense less room for error. Zach Tom went down near the end of the game with a knee injury, which isn’t great news for a team that has to play another game in four days. Depth is dwindling with every new injury, and with a “next man up” mentality, guys have got to be ready to play.
Winner: OLB Rashan Gary
Rashan Gary’s recovery and return to play have been pretty stunning to see. Ten months after tearing his ACL, he had the first three-sack game of his career, on a pitch count. Two of these sacks led to punts by the Saints. The Packers have said in the past that they don’t typically extend players mid-season, but it feels like it’s only a matter of time before Gary gets his well-earned payday. These extraordinary games will only continue, especially as his snap count increases. The longer the Packers wait, the more they will need to pay him.
Loser: The Coaching Staff
With the offense missing a major contributor at just about every position, the defense has to be on point, and do what they can to limit the need for the offense to score on every possession. This means you can’t let 36-year-old Jimmy Graham score a touchdown. Yes, losing Jaire Alexander hurts. Losing Carrington Valentine mid-game hurts. Do you know what else hurts? Seeing a DB lined up 7 yards off the line of scrimmage while Chris Olave gets an easy first down. To top off the nasty defensive coaching job, Rich Bisaccia’s unit didn’t have the greatest day either. Special teams allowed an easy 76-yard punt return for a TD, which seems like an annual occurrence at this point. The common denominator in all of this is HC Matt LaFleur. By no means am I calling for LaFleur’s job—I think he’s actually the perfect coach for this roster. At some point, however, his loyalty to Joe Barry will have to end, or they’ll both be out the door together.
Winner: QB Jordan Love
I had Jordan Love marked as one of today’s losers until the 4th quarter. I even considered keeping him listed as a loser, but I cannot in good conscience fail to acknowledge that his performance won the Packers the game. Love was set up to fail today. He was once again missing the best parts of his offense, and his weapons today dropped too many passes to count. Despite all of this, he ended up leading the offense to score 18 points with under 13 minutes left in the game, and looked extremely composed while doing so. Now, we do need to talk about his accuracy on deep balls. It seems like anything 20 yards or further is massively overthrown. I’ll chalk this up to growing pains, but it definitely needs to improve if he wants to set himself apart from other first-year starters.
Winner: Our eyeballs, once the game ended
Comeback aside, this was a really gross game to watch. From the ugly Emanuel Wilson pass-attempt to the outrageous number of drops by WRs, things just looked really sloppy today. Hopefully, we see the return of WR Christian Watson, RB Aaron Jones, and DB Jaire Alexander on Thursday against the Detroit Lions. It seems like they were all close to playing today, and Thursday’s game against a division rival may have played a part in keeping them out for some added rest. With both teams sitting at 2-1 and the division lead on the line, a messy game won’t cut it this week.