The Green Bay Packers gained some momentum from a Week 7 victory over the Houston Texans. The Packers’ offense returned to potent form against a floundering defense, pouring in 35 points and winning the game handily. The dynamic playmaking ability of the Green Bay defense also returned. It’s encouraging to see the pre-bye-week signs of a contending team once again. Player absences weren’t an issue with Davante Adams cast as the focal point of the offense while Jamaal Williams took care of business on the ground. The Packers were able to make the abysmal Week 6 performance week look like a fluke by returning to strong form against the Texans. What are the key takeaways from the 35-20 win? Let’s review those in this Week 7 Recap.
Rodgers Returns to MVP Form
The Aaron Rodgers we watched against the Buccaneers looked nothing like the Aaron Rodgers we witness produce victories during the first four weeks. Thankfully, he once again found his MVP form against the Texans, throwing for 283 yards, 4 touchdowns, and no interceptions. He completed 68% of his passes after completing just 47% the week before. While the Houston defense is a far cry from the Tampa Bay defense, it’s very encouraging to see Rodgers return to his surgically precise form, slicing and dicing the defense with great effect. His connection with Davante Adams was once again super effective. The star pass-catcher reaching a career-high 196 receiving yards and added 2 scores. They made it a very long, very hard day for the Texans’ secondary.
Offensive Line Rebounds
Everything went wrong in Week 6. Arguably, the most notable problem was how effectively and often the Buccaneers were able to generate pressure on Aaron Rodgers. It is difficult to entirely fault the offensive line. For instance, the running backs failed to pick up blitzes a couple of times. Pass-protection in general needed to be a focus of the following week of practice.
They responded with another stalwart performance, giving up 0 sacks and providing Rodgers ample time in the pocket to scorch the Houston secondary. Even with the notable absence of David Bakhtiari, the offensive line thrived both in pass protection and in the creation of running lanes. Jamaal Williams got 77 yards and a touchdown while averaging 4 yards per carry on top of Rodgers’ remarkable performance. With injuries wearing down the Week 1 starting group, guys like Billy Turner, Ricky Wagner, and Lucas Patrick have stepped up admirably.
Next Men Up Effective
Once again, there were some notable names on the inactive list leading up to the game on Sunday. The Aaron Jones and aforementioned David Bakhtiari absences were most obvious. Considering the key roles that both play in the offense, it was impressive to see 35 points scored. Jamaal Williams, while not spectacular, was effective as both a runner and a receiver.
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However, the injuries did not just affect the offensive side of the ball. Green Bay’s secondary was also depleted, with safety Darnell Savage and corner Kevin King both inactive. As a result, this forced Will Redmond and Josh Jackson into much larger roles. Both Redmond and Jackson played 100% of the defensive snaps, and both executed quite well in their rapidly expanded roles. In addition, Henry Black got his first action after being called up from the practice squad. He made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game when he forced a fumble that the Packers then recovered, which came right after the Texans had recovered an onside kick. That play took any remaining wind out of the Houston sails and the Packers ran the clock out.
Dangerously Adams Dependent
One cautionary note to take from this game is that the passing offense ran almost entirely through Davante Adams. Of the 34 passes Rodgers threw, 16 were directed at Adams. Wide receivers not wearing the #17 jersey caught a measly 2 passes (both by Malik Taylor, who only played 10 offensive snaps total). Marquez Valdes-Scantling had 0 receptions on 4 targets and had an egregious drop that ended one of the Packers’ early drives. The tight ends were efficient when targeted, catching 4 of 6, but that’s only an 18% target share for the entire group.
Long story short, with Allen Lazard and Aaron Jones out, the passing game relied even heavier on Adams to get open and produce. Thankfully he was able to in this game, but that kind of production week in and week out just cannot be expected. Valdes-Scantling must convert his opportunities more consistently. Darrius Shepherd, who played almost 50% of the offensive snaps, must get open more often. The Packer offense runs off star power, but having reliable second and third options is crucial for the offense to continue producing at such a high level.
Week 6 and week 7 provided us a clear view at the duality of the Green Bay Packers. The difference in the quality of opposition definitely played a role. But during Week 7, the Packers capitalized. They dominated a struggling Houston team and giving Deshaun Watson nightmares all game long. There is a bad taste in Green Bay’s fans’ mouths leftover from the Buccaneers game. However, this was a great first step in the right direction for the Packers. Green Bay now turns its attention to an enticing Week 8 home matchup against the Vikings. Minnesota is currently in their own heated standings race, the race for worst record in the NFL. Regaining the early-season momentum the Packers lost in Week 6 with back-to-back blowout wins, including one against a division opponent, is a strong possibility.
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