For his first action in a regular season NFL game, Zach Tom held up pretty well. The fourth-round rookie started at left tackle for the Green Bay Packers on Sunday against the Washington Commanders and showed exactly the traits that earned him his draft status: quick feet and good pass protection instincts combined with some struggles with play strength in the run game.
Still, his play in place of David Bakhtiari, who was ruled out for the game on Sunday morning, was encouraging for the team’s revamped offensive line moving forward. The group protected Aaron Rodgers much better with Elgton Jenkins moved back inside from right tackle to left guard, though the offense as a whole sputtered and struggled due to issues with drops, poor routes, and occasional inaccuracy from its quarterback.
The team’s defense would pay for those offensive struggles, as it was forced to be on the field for more than 23 minutes of game time across the second and third quarters. The two units finished with a snap differential of 20, another sign that the defense was getting gassed late.
Still, the team’s inside linebackers looked solid, the unit recorded its first touchdown of the season, and the red zone defense continued to look good, holding the Commanders to just one touchdown on four attempts. They probably did enough to give the Packers a win if the offense and special teams were at least competent.
Alas, they were not. Here’s how the playing time broke down.
OFFENSE (54 total plays)
Aaron Rodgers 54
What a brutal day it was for Rodgers on Sunday. His final stat line — 23/35 for 194 yards and two touchdowns — doesn’t really do justice to how poorly he and the entire offense played. The wide receivers certainly were responsible for a significant number of problems, with at least five drops in the game, including several on potential third or fourth down conversions, but Rodgers also missed a handful of throws that he should be expected to hit.
To make matters worse, 49 of those 194 yards came on the final last-gasp drive. Therefore, before that point his stat line looks like 21/32 for 145 yards, a terribly inefficient day. Still, Rodgers did have one truly vintage play, his scrambling touchdown pass to Aaron Jones that brought the Packers back within two points late in the fourth quarter.
Aaron Jones 40, AJ Dillon 16
As for Jones, he again out-snapped Dillon significantly in this game. Jones got plenty of touches early, seeing the ball on each of the first four plays of the game. Still, with the offense unable to string any long drives together, he finished with just 17 touches, while Dillon had just four. Jones did account for both of the Packers’ offensive touchdowns, which both came on pass receptions. He also led the team with 10 targets and 9 catches and his 53 yards were just two short of Allen Lazard’s team-leading 55.
Neither runner did much on the ground. Jones did have a few nice successes with pin-and-pull runs off the right side, but the Packers had to go away from those, while he was stuffed for losses more than once.
Romeo Doubs 48, Allen Lazard 32, Sammy Watkins 28, Samori Toure 19, Amari Rodgers 16
With Christian Watson out again and Randall Cobb on injured reserve, the Packers activated Toure for the first time this season and he even started the game, running a clear-out go route on the first play as the Packers ran the football. He and Amari Rodgers both got some moderately substantial snaps as Lazard was forced to leave the game in the second half with a shoulder issue after catching six passes for 55 yards. Toure even caught his first pass, a four-yard gain.
However, outside of Lazard, the Packers’ receivers were largely a mess, and even the veteran dropped a sure-fire third-down conversion on the first drive of the game. Doubs had at least two drops that should have moved the chains, including one on 4th-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Watkins picked up 36 yards, but most of those came on a late 28-yard gain to start the final drive.
Robert Tonyan 30, Marcedes Lewis 23, Tyler Davis 11, Josiah Deguara 7
The Packers got three catches and 32 yards from Tonyan, but 21 of those yards came on the final last-gasp lateral play. Otherwise, the tight end unit was a complete afterthought in the passing game and struggled mightily in run-blocking as well. According to Pro Football Focus, both Tonyan and Lewis had run block grades of 36 or worse, with Deguara and Davis being between 50 and 60.
Zach Tom 54, Elgton Jenkins 54, Josh Myers 54, Jon Runyan, Jr. 54, Yosh Nijman 54
The line’s play was simple: it was good in pass protection (Jenkins excluded) and generally poor in run-blocking. Here are the pass pro grades for the five players:
Pass Blocking Grades per @PFF— Jacob Morley (@JacobMorley) October 24, 2022
LT: Zach Tom: 82.2 (High Quality)
LG: Elgton Jenkins: 41.3 (Bad)
C: Josh Myers: 83.6 (High Quality)
RG: Jon Runyan: 83.3 (High Quality)
RT: Yosh Nijman: 69.3 (Avg/Above Avg)
In total, the team allowed Rodgers to be pressured just once, on a hit by Da’Ron Payne allowed by Nijman. It’s also worth noting that Nijman had two holding penalties, one on a pass and one on a run.
The run block grades for the group were dramatically lower, however, with everyone but Nijman ranking in the 40s and 50s and Nijman barely cracking 60.
DEFENSE (74 total plays)
Kenny Clark 60, Jarran Reed 48, Dean Lowry 42, T.J. Slaton 24, Devonte Wyatt 12
Defensively, the Packers paid for the offense’s inability to sustain drives as they were out on the field for over 11 minutes in each of the second and third quarters. That surely was responsible in part for the unit’s slip in play in those periods, while Clark registered a season-high in snaps. To make matters worse, Clark has now seen more than 50 snaps in five straight games.
As far as the stats go, none of the down lineman registered a hit on QB Taylor Heinicke, as the Packers got little pass rush from their front, instead relying on the edge players and even some blitzing inside linebackers to do the work. Reed posted the group’s only tackle for loss, while both Reed and Clark graded out below-average by PFF.
Preston Smith 58, Rashan Gary 45, JJ Enagbare 31, La’Darius Hamilton 14
Do the work this group did, as the edges managed to pressure Heinicke regularly. The outside linebackers recorded six total hits, three from Gary, one from Smith, and two from Enagbare, which included his second career sack. Smith also made a few nice plays in the run game to set the edge.
De’Vondre Campbell 74, Quay Walker 54
Campbell had a game that was much more reminiscent of last season’s performance than he has been at any other point this season. He posted 12 tackles, including 3 TFLs, and he had a hit on Heinicke on a blitz. Campbell of course provided the Packers’ biggest defensive highlight as well with a second-quarter pick-six that helped him earn an elite 94.3 PFF grade for the game. Walker looked improved as well, registering a pair of hits on blitzes and leading the team with 13 total tackles.
Adrian Amos 74, Darnell Savage 67, Rudy Ford 9
The Packers saw Savage leave the game briefly with an unspecified injury, but he returned shortly thereafter and had four total tackles, all assisted. The safety group was mostly fine, as the Commanders did not test the Packers’ secondary deep very often. Amos had one PBU and nine total tackles while also playing a surprising amount on special teams.
Jaire Alexander 74, Eric Stokes 67, Rasul Douglas 59, Keisean Nixon 2
This was perhaps Jaire Alexander’s worst game in recent memory, as he gave up a few big plays to Terry McLaurin while matched up on the WR1 all game long. He did have pretty decent coverage on the touchdown pass, however, but a perfect throw from Heinicke beat him. Both he and Stokes had rough games in coverage while Douglas was much more active around the football.
Still, Alexander’s one PBU could have been an interception and Douglas had three breakups, two of which he probably would tell you he should have picked off as well. Douglas also had a fumble recovery touchdown wiped out by an illegal contact call on Stokes, though the penalty was debatable at best. Still, those missed opportunities would haunt the Packers in the second half as the defense had to stay on the field consistently.
SPECIAL TEAMS LEADERS
Tyler Davis 22, Dallin Leavitt 19, Isaiah McDuffie 19, Keisean Nixon 19, Eric Wilson 19, Josiah Deguara 15, Adrian Amos 11, La’Darius Hamilton 11, Amari Rodgers 11, Patrick Taylor 11
The only takeaway here is that Amari Rodgers must no longer return punts. He fumbled for the fifth time in his career, giving away field position that led directly to a field goal in a game that Washington won by two points.