The Green Packers opened the 2021 season with a 38-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday afternoon at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Here are columnist Jim Polzin’s thoughts on the game:
Ugly all the way around
Packers coach Matt LaFleur didn’t have his team ready to play.
The defense getting pushed around set the tone, but Aaron Rodgers and the offense had chances to get back in the game and failed miserably.
This was a team effort. Or lack of effort, as the case may be.
LaFleur chose to rest his starters for all three preseason games. Did that play a role in this performance? It’s hard to say. Maybe. But LaFleur left himself open to criticism by making that decision.
One quarterback came into the game with a reputation for throwing interceptions, the other is a three-time MVP.
Who had Jameis Winston outplaying Aaron Rodgers?
Rodgers didn’t throw an interception until Week 6 last season. He had two on Sunday, including an absolute killer on Green Bay’s opening drive of the second half.
Rodgers finished 15 of 28 for 133 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, a passer rating of 36.8.
Winston, who got a boost from a dominant rushing attack, was 14 of 20 for 148 yards and five touchdowns. His passer rating was 130.8.
Winston did have an interception wiped out by a questionable roughing the passer penalty on Za’Darius Smith.
The Packers’ rush defense has been exposed at times in recent years and was again by the Saints.
New Orleans had 140 rushing yards by halftime, averaging 5.6 yards on 25 attempts. Alvin Kamara and Tony Jones Jr. had some big holes to run through because the Packers’ defensive front offered little resistance.
What a brutal start for defensive coordinator Joe Barry in his debut after being LaFleur’s pick to replace Mike Pettine, whose contract wasn’t renewed after last season.
Two of the Saints’ drives in the first half were pure smash-mouth football:
One went 76 yards on 15 plays and took 7 minutes, 51 seconds off the clock.
The next went 80 yards in 14 plays and took a full 10 minutes.