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When Aaron Was Off, the Other Aaron Came to the Rescue

With the Packers’ gritty win over the Lions a week ago, everything changed: Green Bay gained control over their postseason destiny. The goal – no, the target, the very focus – from that point forward has been, and remains: to preserve that hard-won inside track to the #1 NFC playoffs seed. With that distinction comes a bye week and home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.

The team’s target over these last two games is: W’s. WINS. Style points don’t matter at this stage of the campaign. Say what you will about Saturday’s sloppy performance, the LaFleur-led Packers demonstrated once again that they know how to stack up wins. They just captured their fourth in a row, and this fine young head coach has now accumulated 24 wins in just 30 outings. It wasn’t pretty, but the essential mission was accomplished on Saturday night.

Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (33) runs for a 47-yard gain against Carolina Panthers outside linebacker Jeremy Chinn (21) during their football game Saturday, December 19, 2020, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Game Balls

Give that first pigskin to that consummate professional, that former round-six draft choice: Mason Crosby. Just six days ago, it was Crosby who preserved the win against Detroit with a 57-yard kick with just 3:30 left in the game. On Saturday, and with temperatures not conducive to long placekicks, he repeated his clutch play – this time from 51 yards with 3:39 remaining.

Rendering Crosby’s field goal especially heroic was his erasure of a big blunder by Aaron Rodgers. Moments before, Green Bay faced a third and six from the Carolina 25 yard line, but Aaron suffered a sack and an eight yard loss – turning a routine field goal attempt into an iffy proposition.

if my memory serves, over the past two years Aaron has suffered third-down sacks which moved the team out of field goal range, or to the very edge, from three to five times. These are inexcusable errors for such a seasoned quarterback – he’s needs to be reminded by the coaches of the importance of field position in such third-down situations.

A second game ball should go to Aaron Jones. Coach LaFleur had been giving Jamaal Williams over a third of the carries (between the two) all year long (41.4% to be precise), but Jamaal Williams was injured after just one carry, allowing Jones to assume his rightful role as the team’s predominant and preferred running back. Aaron proceeded to get his highest number of carries on the year, 20, and he turned them into 145 yards.

That’s two yards more than what Rodgers got through the air. Subtract the lost yardage on the Pack’s five sacks, and the pass game netted only 96 yards. Jones saved the day!

Jones earned every yard, breaking tackles for extra yardage all night long and keeping the ball secure while absorbing gobs of violent hits.

Despite taking lots of abuse, Jones hasn’t lost a fumble all year long. That’s in contrast to many other star ball carriers, such as Ezekiel Elliott (4 lost fumbles), Dalvin Cook and Josh Jacobs (2), and Derrick Henry and Nick Chubb (1).

Despite his lack of carriers, with two games to go Jones now sits just 32 yards shy of another 1,000-yard rushing season. After averaging 7.2 yards per run against the Panthers, he’s upped his season average to 5.4.

It was this other Aaron who came to the rescue when quarterback Aaron had one of his two poor outings on the season.

The Derrick Henry Show

I write this just after the finish of the Titans-Lions game. I imagine many Packer fans were also following what was happening in Nashville.

On the season, Henry has now rushed for 1,679 yards in 311 carries. He’s averaging 5.4 yards per carry, and he has 15 rushing touchdowns. Having gained only 112 yards through the air on the season, at least he’s not much of a receiving threat.

Henry also led the league in number of carries (303) and rushing yards (1,540, 5.1 average) in 2019. He might surpass 350 carries by season’s end, and he’s got a realistic shot at reaching the 2,000 yard marker.

Henry is far and away the league’s running back workhorse this season. Going into Sunday, Derrick had carried the ball 297 times, while only one other running back, Dalvin Cook, had more than 225 carries. Commentator Stephen Smith (nobody’s favorite?) thinks the MVP race should be between Patrick Mahomes and Henry.

Henry is a back-to-basics, piledriver rusher. He’s massive: 6’ 2 5/8” and 247 pounds. He ran 4.54 40-yard dash at the 2016 NFL Combine, and he did 22 bench presses. Here are comparisons with Packers’ rookie AJ Dillon: 6’ 0”, 247 pounds, 4.53 dash time, and 23 BPs. It appears that LaFleur, who was the Titans’ offensive coordinator and play caller in 2018, asked GM Brian Gutekunst, to go out and find him a carbon copy of Henry. Henry is 26 years old, while Dillon is 22.

Fans of AJ Dillon take note: it took Henry until his third year in the league to become a regular starter. Dillon has seen only token action with Green Bay to date, in large part because he was on the reserve/COVID-19 list from November 2 until December 10.

In his lone carry on Saturday, however, Dillon generated some excitement with an 18-yard burst through a hole created by left tackle David Bakhtiari – and he was only a shoestring tackle from going a lot further. I’m guessing we’ll see a bit more of Dillon against the Titans.

The Packers relaxed and lost their focus against the Panthers. It’s even pretty clear when that happened: midway through the second quarter, when QB Teddy Bridgewater fumbled away the ball within a yard of the end zone. It might have been better for the Packers had he scored, as Green Bay might not have concluded the game was going to be a laugher.

I’m looking for the Packers to be highly motivated, all game long, against the Titans. It should be very fresh in their minds that if they let up next Sunday Henry will be looking at 200+ yards on the ground. In fact, he might do so even without any glaring lapses by Green Bay. It’s a mark he’s exceeded twice this year, most recently against the Jags on December 13.

Rob Born

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



  1. Howard December 21, 2020

    Your game balls on offense and special teams look fine to me. I want to add that the offensive line was opening some holes in the first half. PFF indicated that Aaron Jones was averaging 5.5 yards before contact in the first half. Guess who PFF had as the highest graded offensive player, Billy Turner.
    I thought for sure Turner gave up one of the sacks, however there was no question that Turner was physical in his run blocking during the game, more so than you normally see from Turner. I think that PFF down grades Turner in run blocking because Turner has a tendency to just get in the way of the defender, or shield the defender. During this game Turner was being much more physical in his run blocks than most games.
    One thing the Packers did in this game is run more inside zone, than outside zone action. You saw it a lot in the first half. I think the Packers need to run the inside zone action more than outside zone against defenses with speed such as TB. So inside zone running plays can be good practice. I think one of the problems in the passing game and pass protection was the Packers get a lot more movement from the defenses when they run the outside zone action and then pass. The outside zone action naturally moves the pocket and allows receivers to get open quicker because defenders are seeing the wide action from the O-line. Still no excuse for allowing Carolina, the 28th ranked sack % team before the game to get 5 sacks, and several pressures.

    1. PF4L December 21, 2020

      On memory, i saw Patrick give up 2 sacks (minimum).
      I think you are spot on that PFF downgrades Turners run blocking. The thing with Turner is he’s a worker. He will get beat, he will look out of place occasionally, but he works his ass off and i respect that.
      There have been a lot of sack action the last 3 games, i think in favor of the Packers against 3 bad teams in a row. Gotta pad those stats so they look respectable.
      Now……if Preston can just learn how to get off a block, or….at least draw a holding penalty.

      1. Howard December 21, 2020

        I think Patrick gave up 3 and Bakhtiari also gave up a sack.
        I’m still not sold on the Packer defense overall. I really think Savage, Amos, and Clark have been more aggressive in the last few games. I believe LaFleur has told Pettine to have the defense play more aggresive. Did you notice that Z Smith had a soft cast/ wrap on one of his hands to start the Carolina game. Looked like it would be hard to grab with that hand

  2. Ferris December 21, 2020

    More like 250 for Henry. Their receivers are really good too, and Tannehill is playing up to his trophy wife grade. She must be putting out more, he never played this well in FL.

    1. Stiggy December 22, 2020

      He got away from Adam Gase is what happened. The Jets fucked up not tanking for Lawrence…but you never know what will happen with Darnold if they get a non ass hat coach in there.

      1. PF4L December 24, 2020

        Lol Ferris…..”……and Tannehill is playing up to his trophy wife grade.”

  3. Howard December 21, 2020

    RIP Kevin Greene

    1. Cheese December 21, 2020

      I came to say the same thing. Greene was larger than life before he came to Green Bay and that’s why I was excited when I heard he was becoming part of the coaching staff. He definitely made the defense better, and his moment with Clay during the Super Bowl is monumental. “It. Is. Time.”
      RIP Sackmaster

      1. PF4L December 21, 2020

        Yea…he was relatively young (58).
        No cause of death given so far.
        Wouldn’t be surprised if he knew, but kept it quiet.
        Great player. Great coach
        He was a rare light on the Packer sideline, showing passion and intensity.
        Sometimes when guys like that go. You just wish you could have met him, had a beer with him.
        I would have been happy to buy him a beer from across the bar, and him raising it as if saying, thank you.Thank you Kevin Greene.
        I can only imagine his loss to his loved ones.
        Godspeed to his family.

  4. Mick December 22, 2020

    First and foremost, RIP Kevin Greene.! At his position, he played the game the way it’s supposed to be played. As a coach, he brought the same intensity and passion; which helped Matthews become a pro bowler. On another note, I’m pleased with the way Amos, Clarke and Savage are stepping up their games. The rest of the defenders should take lessons on how to tackle from Amos. By the way, Barnes was wearing the headset on defense this past week. Signs of things to come????? Kirksey being fazed out????

    1. PF4L December 23, 2020

      In the last two games, Kirkseys snaps are down 30% compared to the 4 games previously where he played 100% of the Def. snaps.
      Some fans used to bitch that Martinez only made tackles…down the field, he didn’t make plays.
      Funny thing is…when i compare his body of work to Kirksey, Martinez has it all over him.
      Last 3 seasons, Martinez has 10 sacks. Kirksey hasn’t smelled a QB since 2017.
      Last 2 seasons Martinez has 3 FF’s. Kirskey hasn’t sniffed a football since 2017.
      This season Martinez has 8 stuffed runs, Kirksey has 1.
      Martinez may not be the ultimate playmaker in the NFL, but he sure as shit isn’t worried about being outplayed by Kirksey.
      I like our young guns way more than this overpaid wreck, because i don’t see a drop off. It’s highly doubtful you see Kirksey in a Packer uniform next season.
      Kirksey is just another personnel move that gets put in the LOSS column for Gute, It’s ok though, he has plenty of company.

  5. Ferris December 22, 2020

    I have to say…Gulp…even though he has not lived up to the 12th overall pick… Rashan Gary plays hard and hustles. He’s not invisible anymore. Preston Smith is the invisible (fat) one

    1. PF4L December 23, 2020

      Rashan Gary was drafted as a project, no knock on him, it’s just what it was. It’s not his fault he was a 12th pick where certain expectations are expected. He was drafted for his athletism…plain and simple.
      You are correct, he does play hard and fast. But thus far…he’s a one dimensional hard and fast edge rusher.
      Don’t forget, Gary was a down def. end in college. Then he gets drafted to convert to OLB edge rusher.
      As far as “making plays” Gary and Preston are tied in FF’s at zero. Preston does have an interception, and 5 stuffed runs. Gary has 5-4 sack advantage with less snaps.
      So….citing the fact that Preston is making about 8-10 million more…the writings on the wall.
      If you want to draft a player 12th…you start him. If not his rookie year, then his sophomore year.
      Not with Gute.
      So the Packers have a few choices….1)Cut Smith and eat 8 million in dead cap over 2 years, and start Gary.
      2) Keep things as they are next season.
      3) Start Gary, and sit Preston on the bench (making 12 million).
      Here’s what i say…Start Gary. I don’t care what you do with Preston, Gute made this bed, he can sleep in it.
      2 things i want to touch on….
      1) Some of you might say Preston had a nice year last season. I don’t disagree. But….Was it worth 18 million? That’s not a trick question.
      2) I’m going to blow my horn, because i want to……After last season…people graded the Smith Brothers as great signings by Gute. Then…i said….You can’t grade these free agent pick ups after 1 season….why? Because they “keep getting paid”. Thus…they have to keep performing after year 1.You don’t get a complete passing grade because of one good season (see Nick Perry).
      Gute invested almost 40 million dollars in 2 edge rushers in their first year here. Should we be surprised they delivered plays? I say….For 40 million?….they BETTER deliver.
      Final thought…Preston’s production slipped off. If Gute doesn’t let Gary start and give him a fair chance…Gute should just resign.
      Welcome to my world….as i see it.

      1. PF4L December 23, 2020

        This is assuming a new Def. Coordinator doesn’t come in here and switch things up to a 4-3. Something that maybe should have been done 4-5 years ago.

  6. ed December 23, 2020

    Just so sad.

    Pound for pound the greatest pass rusher ever.

    Not only did Kevin Greene help Matthews. He coached up a bunch of no-names (Zombo,Walden,?) to play respectable football. I was hoping he’d become our DC.

    God bless you man. Thank you for coming to Green Bay.

  7. PF4L December 23, 2020

    I can’t say for sure, but……If Kevin Greene was on the sideline during the 2014 NFCCG against Seattle, the Packers may have reached the Super Bowl.

    1. MMSUCKS December 23, 2020

      Yep! He would have shoved a stick up CMIII’s ass in the last 5 minutes of that game and would have most likely told him to go out and do his fucking job. Instead, what did CMIII do? he sat on the bench because he said he was tired . . .

      1. Howard December 23, 2020

        Kevin Greene to Clay – You better hit the field, my little baby, or Sergeant Hulka with the big toe is gonna see how far he can stick it up your ass.

        1. PF4L December 24, 2020

          Kevin G: Why aren’t you on the field?
          Clay M: I need a minute
          Kevin G: You need 20 seconds to get your ass back on that field or i kick your ass.

          1. PF4L December 24, 2020

            I’ll say this…i always had 100% respect for Mathews, until that game. Paint the sky any color you want, but in my world that is a dark cloud hanging over Mathews career that i can’t forget.
            I can’t pin the loss on him. What i can say is it was one of a handful of bonehead moves that caused us to lose that game after being up by 12 with 5 minutes left.
            That was the day…the “coaching and GM rebuild” SHOULD have started.
            Welcome to my world…as i see it.

      2. MMSUCKS December 25, 2020

        Yep! That game showed me a lot about CMIII. Huge disappointment to be certain. He could have made a difference in just one or two plays that may have altered the outcome of that game. But he decided to take it easy . . . I will always wonder why he did that. There had to be something more to it . . . I don’t think laziness or ego could have been his main reasons to sit himself, he knew how important he was to the overall strength of that defense . . .

        1. PF4L December 26, 2020

          IMO…which is the same opinion i had during the last 5 minutes was…..the players celebrating a win before the game was over, ignited by Morgan Burnett’s interception with 5:13 left and the Packers leading 19-7.
          I haven’t watched it for years, but i remember the majority of Packer players basically celebrating, thinking a win was a given.
          I can’t bet my life on it, but after the interception, i don’t think Mathews came back on the field until overtime started. I don’t think it was laziness or ego. I think it was over confidence the game was in the bag and they would coast to a win and head to the Super Bowl. It wasn’t just Mathews, it was a lot of players.
          If i remember right, after the Burnett interception, McTriple called 3 run plays that went no where and we punted. That was the beginning of the end.
          I know there have been epic 2nd half comebacks lately in the Super Bowl. But this train wreck of mental mistakes in a 5 minute period defies belief that it actually happened.
          Then in overtime, T Willy had fairly good coverage on Jerome Kearse…but….never turned his head to play the ball. Result… 35 yard catch…6 points, trip to Super Bowl.
          Ending 5 plus minutes of the worst bad beat in Packer history.

  8. Mick December 23, 2020

    Yup, if Greene was on the sideline during the 2014 NFCGC, not only do they reach the super bowl, but win it! No softies would have made it under Greenes’ watch……… He was a no-bullshit player and coach!

  9. PF4L December 25, 2020

    “Rendering Crosby’s field goal especially heroic was his erasure of a big blunder by Aaron Rodgers. Moments before, Green Bay faced a third and six from the Carolina 25 yard line……”
    Rodgers “big blunder”?………….I guess the fact that Lucas Patrick lost contact with his block within 1 second allowing Efe Obada to come in free had nothing to do with it…..right?
    “if my memory serves, over the past two years Aaron has suffered third-down sacks which moved the team out of field goal range, or to the very edge, from three to five times. These are inexcusable errors for such a seasoned quarterback – he’s needs to be reminded………..”
    How dare he gets sacked on 3rd downs…….hardly any QB’s get sacked on 3rd down. FIX your sack problem, that’s 18….and counting….Aaron!!
    I have an idea, since the coaches don’t seem to be reminding him, maybe someone from here should go and visit him and reserve an hour with him so as to teach, and stamp out these inexcusable errors. LETS FIX HIM!!
    I don’t see this stuff happening to QB’s like Wilson, Bree’s, Brady, Tannehill, Mahomes. Those guys always play mistake free, perfect football.
    My patience with Rodgers is getting very short. He seems to think because he’s in an MVP race, because without him his team wouldn’t be 11-3.
    He thinks that gives him the right to let a def. lineman sack him?? To not be perfect? To not play error free football!?
    I’m sick of his bullshit……………….
    First, he throws 4 interceptions…..now he’s been sacked 18 times this season?….WHEN WILL THE MADNESS STOP?
    40 TD’s…4 interceptions…QBR 83.5…passer rating of 118…blah blah blah blah blah, i don’t care!!…
    GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER RODGERS. I’m a minority owner. You work for me!
    I don’t mind Mark Murphy and underlings making millions the last 8,9 years to bathe in dysfunction. But GD it, Rodgers gets sacked on 3rd downs?…..I gotta draw the line!!
    Wait till we get our next HOF franchise QB and he plays perfect football like we deserve….it shouldn’t be long now.

  10. Mick December 26, 2020

    Another thing to consider during that crushing defeat against Seattle in the NFCCG. Leading 19 to 7, Burnett intercepts the ball and starts returning it. J. Peppers steps in front of him and tells Burnett to sit down. Burnett had lots of room in front of him, maybe could have even scored. At the time, I thought to myself;;;;;; what the hell???. Peppers might have been able to provide a block or two on the return. Another prime example of playing not to lose. Then bone head McCarthy calls plays not to lose, another prime example of playing not to lose! In the end, if Burnett advances that interception, I believe the outcome of that game turns out different.