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Bye-Week Miscellanea

While Matt LaFleur picked up right where he left off last season, the six other new NFL head coaches of 2019 still aren’t doing well – their combined record in 2020 is 8-15-1. Things would be even worse for them, except that Tampa Bay’s Bruce Arians, a head coach previously for Arizona (2013-17), has ridden his new quarterback, Tom Brady, to a 3-1 record…As for the Class of 2020, Matt Rhule (CAR) is 2-2; Ron Rivera (WSH) and Mike McCarthy (DAL) are 1-3; Joe Judge (NYG) is 0-4; the one happy exception is Kevin Stefanski (CLE), who has started out 3-1. Additionally, after only four winless games this season, the Houston Texans just let go of its head coach and GM, Bill O’Brien…The hiring of Matt LaFleur is likely the most impactful – and best – decision the Packers organization has made in decades.

As a team, the Packers are off to a great statistical start in 2020. Going back to 2000, the 4-0 start has been matched only in 2015, 2011, and 2007…Green Bay leads the NFL in points scored, averaging 38 per game. They are second in yards per game (445.5), and fourth overall in both average rushing yardage (150.8) and passing yardage (294.3). They are the only team without a giveaway on the year, and they are tied for sixth as to turnover differential (+3).

Individually, QB Rodgers is second to Russell Wilson at passer rating (128.4). A-Rod is tied for fewest interceptions (0), with two other regular QBs: Derek Carr (LV) and Patrick Mahomes (KC). He’s second in TDs (13), and fifth in passing yardage. He’s also moved up to tenth in completion percentage (70.5%) – a far cry from his 21st place (62.0%) in 2019.

Aaron Jones is second to Dalvin Cook in rushing yardage (374), though he’s only in a 4-way tie for eighth in number of attempts. He’s also tied for second in rushing TDs (4), tied for fifth in rushing first downs (17), and he’s 6th best in rushing average (5.8 yards)…Allen Lazard is fifth in catch average (19.5 yds.) and Marquez Valdes-Scantling is ninth (17.5 yds)…Robert Tonyan is tied with Mike Evans for the most receiving TDs (5)…Davante Adams is in eighth place in receiving yards per game (96.0) and Allen Lazard is 12th (84.7).

On the defense, Za’Darius Smith is tied with the Browns’ Myles Garett for most sacks (5)…A couple ex-Packers rank high in tackles: Blake Martinez (NYG) is tied for second (43) and Josh Jones (JAX) is in tenth place (36).

As to special teams, Mason Crosby has yet to miss a field goal in eight tries. Maybe the most remarkable stat is that punter J.K. Scott has only punted six times in four games – not enough to even qualify for the ESPN punting chart.

On October 6, the Packers announced that Lambeau Field won’t host any fans on November 1 (versus the Vikings) or indefinitely. The announcement went on to relate that the team “will not be able to welcome fans until COVID-19 infections significantly decrease.” I’m upset.

After missing two games with an ankle injury, promising Green Bay rookie tight end Josiah Duguara injured his knee in the final minutes of the team’s win over the Falcons. It has since been disclosed as an ACL injury, thereby ending his season.

Pro Bowl edge rusher Za’Darius Smith was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week following his 3-sack performance against the Falcons. Though this “Smith brother” is having another stellar season, Preston Smith has been all but invisible, with eight tackles, one-half sack, and no QB hits.

Coach LaFleur clearly stated his intent to not overuse running back Aaron Jones, so as to keep him fresh for the games’ final offensive drives – and throughout the long season. The coach has delivered on this strategy. After 4 games, Aaron Jones has rushed from 15 to 18 times each outing, and he’s been targeted as a receiver 4 to 8 times per game (23 throws, 15 completions) by the QB. The improved play by Jamaal Williams has helped make this approach work out well.

One of the team’s goals this season was to improve on their third down conversion rate. I felt that anything over 50 percent would be fine, and sure enough the Packers have converted 23 out of 45 times. They’ve been very consistent, with their only below 50% outing being against the Saints, when they converted five out of eleven times.

Packers celebration cam

Sep 27, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Green Bay Packers players celebrate in front of the showtime cam after a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints during the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. Kato October 13, 2020

    There is a lot to look forward the rest of the season. I looked at the 49ers schedule and they have a rough path forward to the playoffs, with only two clear wins left on the schedule. They have the seachickens twice, bills, patriots, rams twice, Cardinals again, Packers and saints.
    The seachickens remind me a lot of the 2011 Packers with an insane offense but a defense that gives up a lot of yards and points, and survives off the turnover. They have given up the most total yards since 1950, and set the record for most completions and passing yards allowed through 5 games. How what was a mighty defense has fallen. Shows how hard it is to maintain a roster, for those of you that love John Schneider.

    1. Ferris October 14, 2020

      They’d have an L if anyone but Zimmer was the coach of the Vikings. As long as Wilson is the QB they can win. The sight of their coach celebrating and chewing gum makes me want to drive to Seattle throw some eggs, but Wilson is dangerous.

    2. PF4L October 14, 2020

      To be fair Kato, Seahawks defense was ripped apart, once you win a SB, not everyone can get paid. Wilson still had to be paid. Everyone knew that defense was going to be broken up. And it even got ugly…See Earl Thomas.
      To me….that team was never the same internally ever since the end of SB XLIX. The SB the Packers should have been in.

      Seattle seized the moment at the time having Wilson on the cheap.

      Flashback to the past…..
      Our defense went from ranking 5th to 32nd from the 2010 – 2011 season, in one year. Important: That’s based on yards yielded.
      The scoring defense of 2010 was 15 PPG. In 2011 it was 22.4 PPG. Not horrendous considering the 27 place ranking drop.
      Why is it relevant now? Let me expand.
      Our defense is currently ranked 12th in the league. Pretty damn good right? NOT SO FAST..
      We were 32nd ranked in 2011 but..they gave up 22.4 PPG that 2011 season, even ranked last.
      Now the Pack defense is ranked 12th, but they are giving up 25.3 PPG. It didn’t hurt that the 2011 defense had 31 interceptions.
      Hence, why i look at points scored, or given up as the most important stat. That’s how games are decided.
      Now…, as in 2011..games were/are won because the offense was/is blowing shit up.
      To LaFleur and company’s credit…doing so without the Packers usual compliment of receivers.
      When i think the Packers are 18-4 in their last 22 games, i start to believe in miracles. I’m believing in miracles until i’m given a reason not to.
      Enjoy the ride…GO PACK GO!!

      1. Dean October 14, 2020

        2 points. The 2011 defense lost safety Nick Collins and never recovered. Also, offenses are at a huge advantage this year with no crowd noise — probably hurts this years packers sack total for games at home.

        1. PF4L October 15, 2020

          Yea, Nick Collins was huge. I think it was the loss of both Collins and Cullen Jenkins.

  2. Ferris October 13, 2020

    A Green Bay TE leads the league in TDs. Wow. I really like Tonyan but really wonder why Jimmy Graham sucked so bad in Green Bay? Is he getting laid more in Chicago? Do the Bears have a better cafeteria? After 2 years he remembers that you are supposed to catch the ball? To think they took him over Jordy. He stole $20M from Green Bay.

    1. PF4L October 14, 2020

      I’m as guilty as anyone, probably more. But there has to come a day where we/i get over Jimmy G. But…it has to remain somewhat as a portion of a grade for someone’s job.
      Hopefully…winning can help that along. the defense has to keep going in the right direction or i think were screwed.
      We have Tampa Bay next and don’t look past them, they have some talent, are very well coached, and present matchup problems, especially in the run game. Tampa gives up a league best 58 YPG rushing,
      I’d like to see us get a couple of picks off of Brady while he’s still apprenticing.

  3. Kato October 14, 2020

    Number of career starts it took before defense gave up 30+ points in back to back games:

    Justin Herbert: 4
    Peyton Manning: 7
    Aaron Rodgers: 12
    Patrick Mahomes: 13
    Drew Brees: 26
    Dan Marino: 37
    Tom Brady: 295