Rife with mental lapses that lead to penalties and the inability to protect the quarterback properly. That was the tale of the tape for not only the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 4, but also the Green Bay Packers.
Both teams suffered through the inability to get out of its own way in divisional losing efforts — a 24-17 defeat for the Raiders at the Los Angeles Chargers and a 34-20 loss for the Packers to the visiting Detroit Lions.
Thus, it’s only fitting the two teams meet one another in a get-right prime time Monday Night Football clash inside Allegiant Stadium. Green Bay head coach Matt LaFleur didn’t pull any punches of his assessment of the loss to an NFC North foe in the Lions:
Matt LaFleur: “They whooped us pretty good.”— Matt Schneidman (@mattschneidman) September 29, 2023
Said the Packers got “manhandled” in every phrase. pic.twitter.com/deYmkAkAcB
Yet, the Packers made a valiant effort in the second half and chiseled the Lions’ lead to 27-17 at the onset of the fourth quarter before falling. Likewise, the Raiders made things interesting in the second half by witling the Chargers’ advantage to 24-17 before eventfully losing.
Which brings us to the area of concern when it comes to Green Bay, for Las Vegas: Second-half adjustments. LaFleur and his coaching staff showed the ability to go into halftime and coming out a different team for the final two quarters in their last two outings.
Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, whose defense played well in the second half of last Sunday’s loss in L.A., is well aware of what LaFleur brings to the table as not only head coach, but play caller.
“Again, each week is different, but we can see some progress in terms of third downs, the run game, tackling was better in the second half. And we’re going need it this week against Green Bay because they have a dynamic group of receivers, the o-line is gelling well together, the quarterback is getting his feet underneath him,” Graham said of the Packers. “And obviously Matt does a really good job schematically, so we’re going to need to build upon that for this week coming up.”
Graham is right to praise LaFleur, as schematically, Green Bay is the 10th-ranked unit in the league in points scored at 100 total. While seven of those points come from linebacker Quay Walker’s 37-yard interception return and PAT in Week 1, LaFleur is orchestrating a productive group helmed by quarterback Jordan Love. As a group, the Packers are the fourth-best offense in scoring red zone touchdowns with 13 visits inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and nine end zone visits — a 69.2 percent conversion rate. Green Bay also boasts the 11th best third-down conversion rate at 42.6 percent (23 of 54).
And with the added rest and preparation time for Green Bay — their Week 4 matchup was a Thursday Night Football clash with Detroit — Graham made no bones about needing both eye discipline and avoiding penalties to get the Packers off the field and give the ball back to Josh McDaniels offense.
“There’s a level of toughness that comes into play, so it presents a lot of challenges,” Graham said. “The combination of the run game, the pass game off the run game, and just how they challenge your rules and your eyes throughout the duration of the game.”
The Raiders did well to show a more concentrated effort in the second half against the Chargers — on both offense and defense — and will need to prove that they can do it again against Green Bay. The Silver & Black haven’t been able to put together a complete 60-minutes of football for a winning effort and the team’s 1-3 overall mark is proof of that.
The 24-year-old third-year quarterback holds a solid touchdown to interception clip at eight TDs to three INTs passing and has two more end zone visits rushing as the starter in LaFleur’s Green Bay offense. In all, he’s thrown for 901 yards by completing 74 of 102 of his passes (56.1 percent). On the year, he’s engineered one fourth quarter comeback and game-winning drive.
Where he’s had issue — and this isn’t solely on him — is getting pressured and sacked. Heading into the Packers’ Week 4 contest, he was only sacked there times. But against the Lions, he was dropped five times.
Packers 1-2 Punch
Love’s favorite targets so far are wide receivers Romeo Dobbs (33 targets, 20 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns) and rookie Jayden Reed (25 targets, 12 catches for 203 yards and two touchdowns). Both young receivers lead the team in first-down catches at 13 and nine, respectively.
Following closely behind the two wideouts is rookie tight end Luke Musgrave who has 12 catches for 125 yards on 16 targets.