With Rashan Gary and Allen Lazard inactive for Sunday’s game, the Green Bay Packers had to make some adjustments to their normal outside linebacker and wide receiver rotations against the Minnesota Vikings. Lazard’s absence kept the team without one of its premier perimeter blockers and play-action weapons on offense, while Gary has been the team’s most consistent pass-rusher for most of this season.
Thankfully, the Packers found plenty of production from the players filling in at both positions on Sunday. Tipa Galeai got his first action in the NFL and played more than half of the team’s defensive snaps, while Jonathan Garvin had a much heavier workload than usual in this game filling in for Gary’s absence. Both players performed well enough, as the Packers got plenty of pressure on Kirk Cousins in this game — the defense just struggled in the secondary, where big plays and open receivers allowed Cousins to get the ball out for big plays under pressure.
On offense, Equanimeous St. Brown helped fill in for Lazard a bit with some big plays, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling looks to be fully recovered from a hamstring injury that cost him several games earlier this season. MVS’ biggest play of the year is a sign that there is a deep threat in Green Bay once again, while St. brown provided a decent tertiary option behind MVS and Davante Adams.
Unfortunately, all of those performances went for naught, as the Packers couldn’t convert on a few potential game-changing plays in the secondary. One in particular would have given the Packers the chance to take the lead late instead of keeping the defense on the field.
Here’s how the playing time broke down on Sunday afternoon.
OFFENSE (59 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 58, Jordan Love 1
Rodgers already had a 300-yard day before lofting a bomb to Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the Packers’ final offensive snap of the game, but that took his statistical performance from good to great. It would give four touchdowns on the day, with three of those coming on the team’s three second-half possessions. All told, the stat line finished 23-for-33 for 385 yards and those four scores, good for a passer rating of 148.4, the highest rating Rodgers has ever had in a loss. Rodgers added 21 rushing yards as well on a pair of carries, including an 18-yard scramble, all while fighting through a painful toe issue.
Rodgers previous high rating in a loss? That was 131.8 against — you guessed it — the Vikings, in the 2012 regular season finale.
Love took the field for one play, a kneel-down at the end of the first half.
AJ Dillon 44, Patrick Taylor 15
While Rodgers had an exceptional performance on the stat sheet, AJ Dillon’s first game as the featured running back was mixed. Much of that was due to game situation, however, as the Packers were down two scores in the second and third quarters. That led to Dillon carrying the ball just 11 times, picking up 53 yards. However, he did get over 90 total yards thanks to six receptions for 44.
Taylor filled in occasionally, picking up 11 yards on four carries.
Davante Adams 52, Marquez Valdes-Scantling 48, Randall Cobb 45, Equanimeous St. Brown 21, Juwann Winfree 6, Amari Rodgers 1
With Allen Lazard out, the Packers went with Cobb as the primary WR3 and St. Brown took over the WR4 snaps. He got plenty of them thanks to the game script forcing the team into more drop-back passing than usual, and the Packers also got him working on a jet sweep for 11 yards. St. Brown would catch a pair of passes for 43 yards in the game.
Of course, Adams and MVS were the stars. with MVS surprisingly leading the team in targets with 10. His 75-yard bomb gave him a tremendous final line of 123 yards and a score, though he still caught just four of those 10 targets. Adams caught seven of eight balls thrown his way for 115 yards and two scores.
Cobb was only a minor factor, with one grab for 15, but he did get into the offense in creative ways, including on a fun speed option pitch to Dillon on 3rd and 1:
This play deserves awards pic.twitter.com/PRiAN13PBp— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) November 22, 2021
Josiah Deguara 27, Marcedes Lewis 17, Dominique Dafney 16, Tyler Davis 3
For the first time in his career, Deguara led the Packers’ tight end group in snaps, likely due to the need to throw the ball for much of the second half. He also caught his first touchdown, a 25-yarder from Rodgers on a deep crosser off a bootleg to the left, and added another reception for 12 yards. Dafney had the only other catch by a tight end, which went for eight yards.
Jon Runyan, Jr. 59, Lucas Patrick 59, Royce Newman 59, Billy Turner 59, Elgton Jenkins 49, Yosh Nijman 10
The Packers’ offensive line saw its latest massive injury hit in the fourth quarter of this game, when Jenkins went down. Alertly picking up a blitzing defensive back, Jenkins’ knee appeared to give out amid modest contact with the DB, and the Packers fear a torn ACL for their exceptional third-year lineman.
That forced Nijman onto the field, and he played fine in his ten snaps. But the concern is for Jenkins moving forward, especially since the assumption was that he would move to the interior when David Bakhtiari eventually returns to the field.
In general, the line protected Rodgers reasonably well, with just two sacks and four QB hits allowed.
DEFENSE (70 total plays)
Kenny Clark 61, Dean Lowry 50, Kingsley Keke 35, Tyler Lancaster 25, T.J. Slaton 17
Another game, another 85 percent or more of the snaps for Clark, who continues to eat up those snaps in the middle. He and Kingsley Keke had a solid day rushing the passer, while Lancaster actually made a few splash plays with two tackles for loss.
Preston Smith 53, Tipa Galeai 36, Jonathan Garvin 34
Without Rashan Gary, the Packers went to a three-man outside linebacker rotation in this game as Galeai and Garvin took snaps opposite Smith. The team also used some four-man fronts in this game with three defensive linemen and one outside backer, as they did on the very first snap of the game.
Smith had a tremendous performance once again, however, recording a pair of sacks, including one sack-strip of Kirk Cousins. Galeai also showed out well in his debut, with a 76.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus.
Meanwhile, the recently re-signed La’Darius Hamilton played just one snap, with that coming on special teams. That comes as a bit of a surprise, considering he was on the active roster for some time this season prior to a roster limit-related release last week and his almost immediate re-signing to the practice squad following Gary’s injury.
De’Vondre Campbell 70, Krys Barnes 37, Oren Burks 18
Without Gary, the Packers turned to Campbell a little bit more in the pass rush to manufacture some pressure on Cousins, and it worked reasonably well. The starting inside linebacker blitzed off the A gap a handful of times and landed two hits on Cousins, the only two for any Packers defender not named Preston Smith. He would post seven tackles to tie for the team lead. Barnes meanwhile had four tackles on defense and one on special teams, but his most memorable play will be a brutal miss on Dalvin Cook on a pass into the flat that ended up going for big yardage.
Adrian Amos 70, Darnell Savage 70, Henry Black 10
Savage will look back at his day as a game of “what if.” He had an interception in the second quarter wiped out by a roughing the passer penalty on Keke, then had two more balls in his hands that were initially ruled interceptions but were overturned on replay. One was a tough one with playing defense to knock the ball away, but the other was a straight drop that would have delivered the Packers’ offense a chance to go win the game. Instead, Savage failed to maintain possession through going to the ground, and the call was reversed to an incomplete pass on replay. If he holds on to that ball, Green Bay has a chance to drive for a game-winning score rather than Minnesota doing just that afterwards.
Savage would tie Campbell for the team lead with seven tackles, but that’s not a great sign when your primary deep safety is leading in that category. Meanwhile, Amos had just three tackles,
Eric Stokes 63, Rasul Douglas 54, Chandon Sullivan 41, Kevin King 26
The Packers’ corners had a rough one Sunday, but the snap breakdown shows the team continuing to keep Kevin King on a limited snap count for a second straight week. There’s not much good to say about this group this week, however, as every one of these players gave up some big plays.
SPECIAL TEAMS SNAP LEADERS
Burks 22, Davis 22, Ty Summers 22, Isaac Yiadom 22, Black 21, Shemar Jean-Charles 20, St. Brown 16, Douglas 14, Isaiah McDuffie 14, Barnes 13