It doesn’t get any easier for the Green Bay Packers.
After being manhandled by the New York Jets’ aggressive defensive front last week at Lambeau Field and absorbing a second straight loss, Green Bay travels to Washington to take on the Commanders and their talent-laden front in a 12-noon contest Sunday.
“We just want to get back out there,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “The beauty of this league is you get another chance. The tough part is we got to deal with all the feelings for a week after a bad performance.”
The 3-3 Packers trail the NFC North Division-leading Minnesota Vikings, 5-1, and can ill afford another poor outing in a winnable game in our nation’s capital—especially with another road game against the high-flying Bills in Buffalo to close out October.
Green Bay has lost consecutive regular-season games for the first time in head coach Matt LaFleur’s tenure and getting back on track to kick off the Packers’ three-game road trip is paramount.
As Mike Ditka, former Chicago Bears head coach, is fond of saying: “It all starts up front.”
There will no doubt be changes made in Green Bay’s offensive line in the aftermath of the Jets game, as New York sacked Rodgers four times and recorded nine quarterback hits. Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon were held to 60 total yards rushing.
In the Packers locker room after that game, left tackle David Bakhtiari was blunt. He spoke about reviewing film and making corrections, being consistent, and getting back to basics.
“Film, the eye in the sky, doesn’t lie. . . that’s blood,” Bakhtiari said. “That’s what the defense, sharks, are going to look at. And until you fix that, they’re going to keep attacking that.”
The receiving group is depleted with the loss of Randall Cobb due to an ankle injury suffered in the Jets’ loss. The veteran receiver is expected to miss several games, while rookie receiver Christian Watson continued to be sidelined with a hamstring injury and his availability for Sunday is uncertain.
A positive for Green Bay is the return to practice this week of Sammy Watkins, who has missed four games with a hamstring injury. Watkins could provide a boost for the offense and another target for Rodgers to complement Lazard.
“He plays the game really fast. . . he’s one of the best blockers I’ve been around,” LaFleur said. “When you couple him with guys like Alan (Lazard) that’s a pretty formidable duo on the perimeter.”
Rodgers is still dealing with a thumb injury that occurred on the last play of the Giants game in London. Commanders’ starter Carson Wentz is out after undergoing surgery on his right ring finger, and backup Taylor Heinicke will be under center Sunday. Heinicke, a huge Packers and Brett Favre fan growing up, was the starter last season in Washington’s 24-10 loss at Lambeau Field in late October.
Rodgers stressed simplicity in the offense last Sunday in his postgame presser and his love of the game midweek after sitting out Wednesday’s practice.
“This is a lot of fun me,” Rodgers said. “I wake up in the morning thinking about this. I go to bed at night dreaming about what plays I can make up (for Matt). This has been my love since I was five years old and still love waking up every day knowing I’m coming into 1265 (Lombardi Avenue).
Packers 23, Commanders 13
Rodgers asked for simplicity in the offense, but unless a reshuffled offensive line protects and opens holes for Jones and Dillon against stout and physical defensive front, it will be another long afternoon for #12. The sense of urgency for Green Bay is high and defense has an opportunity to be dominant in this contest and create turnovers. So far, they have only created four this season.
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