The Green Bay Packers got another surprise on the offensive line on Sunday afternoon. One week after David Bakhtiari was an unexpected inactive due to a flare-up with his knee, left guard Elgton Jenkins was ruled out shortly before game time due to a foot injury that limited him in practice during the week.
That meant that rookie Zach Tom was thrust into the starting lineup once again, but this time at guard instead of tackle. It was a rough go at first for the fourth-rounder, though he seemed to settle in after that bumpy start.
Meanwhile, the Packers saw both of their starting inside linebackers lost for the game in the first half. Veteran De’Vondre Campbell suffered a knee injury late in the second quarter, shortly after rookie Quay Walker earned an ejection for his undisciplined reaction to being provoked along the Bills sideline after a tackle. That thrust a pair of inexperienced players into the lineup, as second-year pro Isaiah McDuffie got his first significant defensive playing time in his hometown of Buffalo.
This was a weird game from the snap counts perspective, so let’s dive in.
OFFENSE (66 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 66
For just the second time all season, Rodgers completed three deep pass attempts in a single game (he also did so in week 4 against the Patriots). He hit on 3-of-6 passes longer than 20 yards downfield this week, including both of his touchdowns — the 19-yarder to Romeo Doubs in the end zone counts because it was in the very back of the end zone. (Note that the flea-flicker to Romeo Doubs does not appear on the chart because it was farther than 50 yards.)
Aaron Rodgers' passing chart from Sunday night. It feels like the first time all season that he completed more than one pass >20 yards downfield (that's an exaggeration, but only slightly) pic.twitter.com/qfni12FOSz— Tex Western ⚛︎ (@TexWestern) October 31, 2022
While there are still precious few passes in the intermediate middle of the field — just two between the numbers and between 5 and 15 yards — this showed Rodgers as being a little more willing to throw deep and more effective when doing so in this game than the rest of the season.
All told, Rodgers finished the game 19-of-30 overall for 203 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. He also took two sacks, both coming in the first half.
Aaron Jones 44, AJ Dillon 28
It was a truly stellar day for the Packers’ running backs against an exceptional Bills run defense. By mixing gap and zone concepts, the Packers dialed up 30 carries and 197 yards between the two backs, and each had a run of more than 25 yards.
Jones finished the day with 24 touches, the first time he has hit 20 all season, as he went 20-for-143 on the ground and 4-for-14 through the air. Dillon went 10-for-54 on the ground and had a 9-yard reception. He had to miss a brief spell after going down awkwardly in the second half, but he returned to the field on the next drive.
Romeo Doubs 54, Sammy Watkins 52, Amari Rodgers 28, Samori Toure 14, Christian Watson 6
The Packers got put in an early bind as Watson, returning from a two-week absence, suffered a concussion on the offense’s opening drive. With plenty of plays in the game plan for him this week, that forced Green Bay to adjust on the fly.
Adjust they did, working Rodgers in more on offense than ever before and getting Toure some action in the second half. Interestingly, despite Watkins’ heavy snap load, he saw just one target, a 3-yard reception to move the chains on third down on the Packers’ third play of the game.
Instead, Doubs led the team with 7 targets and led the receiver group with 4 catches and 62 yards. His touchdown reception in the first half was a thing of beauty, making an impressive adjustment and contested catch in the back of the end zone. Toure delivered his only catch, a 37-yard touchdown, on an extended play that saw him work his way open downfield to catch a bullet from Rodgers. That play is now the Packers’ longest offensive touchdown of the season. The team got one other explosive passing play, a 22-yard catch by Rodgers that also featured a very nice adjustment with the ball in the air.
Robert Tonyan 49, Josiah Deguara 30, Marcedes Lewis 22, Tyler Davis 3
The snaps deliver good news for the Packers fans who have been clamoring for more playing time for Deguara. He only saw one target, a 9-yard catch, but he was critical to the team’s success on the ground, lining up all over the place including in-line and at fullback. It was encouraging to see him take away almost all of the offensive snaps from Davis, who barely played at all.
Meanwhile, Tonyan led the team with 5 catches, picking up 35 yards in the process.
David Bakhtiari 66, Zach Tom 66, Josh Myers 66, Jon Runyan, Jr. 66, Yosh Nijman 66
Another week, another surprise start for Tom, who this week plugged in at left guard for the inactive Elgton Jenkins instead of at left tackle for Bakhtiari. Tom looked outmatched early, giving up multiple pressures and a sack in the opening drives, but he eventually settled in and the Packers even let him use his natural athletic ability to pull in the run game.
All told, Rodgers took just four hits all game, a decent pass protection performance overall from this line as it faced an impressive Bills front.
DEFENSE (59 total plays)
Kenny Clark 46, Jarran Reed 40, Dean Lowry 23, T.J. Slaton 22, Devonte Wyatt 10
This game felt like a rare off game for Clark, who has been the lone steady, consistent presence on the defensive line. Buffalo, which had the 28th-ranked rushing offense by DVOA, averaged 5.7 yards per carry in this game as the line continued to struggle. The only notable point on the stat sheet was Reed, who delivered two of the Packers’ three quarterback hits on Josh Allen.
Rashan Gary 45, Preston Smith 45, JJ Enagbare 21, Kobe Jones 7
While the line was struggling to get pass rush, the Packers’ edges did a decent job pressuring Allen, but were entirely unable to get home. Not a single member of this group got a hand on him, and he used his running ability frequently to avoid pressure. Smith once again was solid in run defense, while Enagbare delivered a pair of tackles for losses.
Isaiah McDuffie 40, De’Vondre Campbell 23, Eric Wilson 23, Quay Walker 15
For the first time all season, the Packers had to deal with Campbell missing some snaps, as he left the game with a knee issue just before halftime. That came a series after Walker was ejected for shoving a practice squad player on the Bills’ sideline, which forced McDuffie onto the field; Campbell’s absence meant that McDuffie had to wear the communications helmet for the remainder of the game while Eric Wilson came on as Walker’s replacement.
With the shifting going on at this position, no player on the Packers’ defense recorded more than five total tackles in the game, with Walker hitting that number. He did punch out the football from receiver Stefon Diggs for the Packers’ only forced fumble of the game, though Diggs was able to recover.
Adrian Amos 59, Darnell Savage 59, Rudy Ford 6
Green Bay has a safety problem, plain and simple. Savage made four tackles in this game, but probably missed at least that many, either failing to wrap up a ball-carrier or throwing a shoulder and whiffing instead. Amos remains generally a steady presence, though he also got exposed a bit on a play or two. Interestingly, the Packers put Ford on the field as a third safety for a handful of snaps, but perhaps he should start taking some real snaps away from Savage at this point.
Jaire Alexander 58, Eric Stokes 58, Rasul Douglas 47, Keisean Nixon 1
The Packers got a tremendous game from Alexander, who was jawing with Stefon Diggs plenty but shut down the star receiver when he was covering him. Alexander had just one assisted tackle in the game, but he picked off a pass from Allen and had a total of four pass defenses. Douglas had a pick as well, with both interceptions coming in the second half with the Bills seemingly playing a bit too loosely and lackadaisically with the football. Still, hopefully the secondary can start getting some picks in bunches after grabbing two in this game.
Douglas’ low-light moment came when he gave up a touchdown to Diggs on an out-and-up. That came in an odd sequence where the Packers briefly benched Stokes, moving Douglas to the boundary and putting Nixon on as the slot corner. That lasted only the one play, however, with Stokes back on the field for the next series.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Tyler Davis 17, Isaiah McDuffie 15, Dallin Leavitt 13, Keisean Nixon 13, Eric Wilson 13