The Green Bay Packers defense played a strong game but the offense was inconsistent without Aaron Rodgers and the Packers fell to the Chiefs 13-7. The game was the first NFL start for former Packers first-round pick Jordan Love who struggled at times in this game.
The loss ended the Packers seven-game winning streak. They are now 7-2 on the season and still hold a comfortable lead in the NFC North.
Here are 10 things we learned from the Packers 13-7 loss in Kansas City:
- Jordan Us Still a Work in Progress
Jordan Love is still a work in progress. The former first round pick made his first NFL start and the results were predictably mixed.
At times, Love made good reads and good throws but far too often his accuracy and decision making were subpar.
The Chiefs blitzed Love a lot and when he was able to set his feet, his throws were more accurate. When his footwork wasn’t textbook, his throws often fluttered off course.
Love finished the game going 19-of-34 for 190 yards. He threw one touchdown and one interception for a quarterback rating of just 69.5.
Love still has a lot to learn, but so did Rodgers after his first start.
- The Offense Did Not Adjust Well to the Blitz
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that the Chiefs defense came at Love with a variety of blitz packages. The problem is the Packers offense did not respond well to that inevitability.
The Packers didn’t call many screen passes or quick release passes and too often, Love was trying to throw the ball downfield on low percentage plays when the pressure was on.
Love rarely panicked under pressure but the footwork was a problem and the play calling just wasn’t smart enough to make it easier for an inexperienced quarterback to excel under difficult circumstances.
- The Offensive Line Struggled
The offensive line has been a strong point for the Packers offense throughout the first eight games. But in Week 9, they didn’t play up to their past standards.
Love was officially sacked only once but he was hit seven times and was constantly under pressure. The offensive line didn’t bring their A-game against Kansas City and it didn’t help the team.
Royce Newman had a particularly tough day and had trouble picking up blitzing safeties and linebackers. Jon Runyan, Jr. was injured during the game but managed to return. Center Lucas Patrick also had his struggles inside when the Chiefs flooded the A-gap.
This was a time when the team needed the o-line to rise up and play a strong game. They didn’t quite get the job done.
Hopefully, they get David Bakhtiari back next week against Seattle which should make the line even stronger in the second half of the season.
- The Defense Deserved Better
The Packers defense played well enough to win this game. They held the explosive Kansas City offense to just 13 points in Kansas City.
The Chiefs had just 237 total yards all game. The run defense held KC to just 77 yards on the ground and an average of just 3.1-yards per carry.
The pass defense held Patrick Mahomes to 166 yards passing and a long pass of 25 yards. The big play Chiefs offense had to work hard for whatever they got.
Most teams will beat the Chiefs if they hold them to 13 points, especially with the shaky KC defense. Unfortunately, the defense didn’t get the result they deserved.
- Injuries Continue to Mount
The Packers lost two more key players to injury this week and as usual, the players lost were key contributors. Before the game even started, rookie cornerback Eric Stokes was shaken up in warmups and he never got into the game.
With a speedster like Tyreek Hill on the roster, having Stokes available would have made a big difference to the team. Kevin King and Rasul Douglas started on the boundary and both played well.
During the game, the Packers also lost their best defensive lineman, Kenny Clark to injury and he didn’t return.
The run defense was still effective although Clark’s contribution to the pass rush was missed, especially since Kingsley Keke was also unavailable. That meant the Packers were lacking their top two pass rushing defensive linemen.
The long-term status of both Stokes and Clark should be updated early this week.
- What’s Wrong with Mason Crosby?
Mason Crosby continues to struggle. The veteran kicker missed one from 40 yards out in the first quarter and then had a 37-yard try blocked in the second quarter.
Crosby has now missed six field goals this season and one extra point.
The two missed field goals were the margin of defeat for the Packers and the poor kicking also changed the way LaFleur approached a drive late in the second quarter when the Packers turned the ball over on downs.
Whether it’s mental or physical or a timing thing with holder Corey Bojorquez or the team’s new long snapper, Steven Wirtel, the Packers need to get their field goal issues worked out.
- Special Teams Continue To Hurt
The poor field goal kicking was not the only issue on special teams. The special teams units continue to hurt the Packers nearly every week and this game was no exception.
Late in the first half, the Packers muffed a punt which gave the Chiefs the ball on the Green Bay 10 with 2:41 left before the half. Return man Amari Rodgers didn’t field the ball properly and it bounced off the foot of Malik Taylor and was recovered by Kansas City. The defense managed to hold the Chiefs to a field goal but instead of being down 7-0 at the half, the Packers were down 13-0.
Nearly every punt return by Rodgers has been a bit of an adventure for the Packers although he did manage a 15-yard return later in the game.
The field goal protection and kick and punt return units still need to improve significantly.
- Krys Barnes Was Outstanding
Second-year ILB Krys Barnes had his best game of the season. The former UCLA star led the team with nine total tackles including one tackle for loss which saw him attack the ball carrier like a heat seeking missile.
Barnes was all over the field and read plays extremely well. If he continues to step up and improve, he and De’Vondre Campbell can give the team a very effective duo in the middle of the defense, something this team hasn’t had in years.
- The Packers Stopped Running the Ball Too Quickly
The Packers running game was effective but underutilized in this game. With a green quarterback under center, you had to expect that Matt LaFleur would emphasize the run game at least as often as he did last week in Arizona.
The running game was successful throughout the game when LaFleur used it, but the team’s two running backs had only 20 carries total in a game where they should have had at least 30 combined.
A.J. Dillon was effective but had only eight carries despite averaging 5.8-yards per carry. He had only two carries in the second half which made little sense considering the game was still close and how effective he was in the first half. Aaron Jones had only 12 carries in the game and averaged 4.4-yards per run.
Running the ball more often and more efficiently would have helped put Jordan Love and the offensive line in more manageable situations in this game.
The Packers finished the game just 2-of-12 on third down conversions. Running the ball more often would have helped improve that number and helped the team sustain more drives.
- This Was a Winnable Game
I think there is little doubt that had Rodgers been available and started, the Packers would have won this game by a healthy margin. The fact that the Green Bay offense managed only seven points against one of the league’s most generous defenses is a big disappointment.
The Packers will need a better performance next week at home against Seattle when they face a tougher NFC opponent in a game they need to win.
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