Matt LaFleur echoed my thoughts perfectly after witnessing his Green Bay Packers finish with more penalties than points on Sunday.
“That,” LaFleur expressed during his postgame press conference following a 24-10 home loss to the Minnesota Vikings, “was undeniably difficult to watch.”
Undoubtedly, Matt, that’s an understatement. It was agonizing, a 188-minute ordeal for the Packers fans among the 78,113 in attendance at Lambeau Field or those watching from home. I wouldn’t blame anyone for switching it off and finding a more enjoyable way to spend their afternoon, just as I didn’t blame the fans leaving the stadium well before the clock hit 0:00. It was that dreadful, that disappointing, and that deflating.
What’s even worse is that it’s becoming a common occurrence for this young team, which hasn’t shown much promise of improvement in the near future. The Packers have now lost four consecutive games despite having faced a manageable schedule – playing at home against Detroit, on the road in Las Vegas, in Denver, and back at home against Minnesota – with no wins and no signs of progress.
You might argue this is a rebuilding year, but all I see are players wearing hard hats, and there’s little evidence of any progress being made.
This group doesn’t look any better than it did on September 24th, when they staged a remarkable fourth-quarter rally to defeat the New Orleans Saints. Matt LaFleur and his team have gone five weeks without a taste of victory, and it’s unclear when that streak might end.
Next week, the Los Angeles Rams, with a 3-5 record, will visit Titletown, fresh off a 43-20 loss to Dallas. On paper, it’s another winnable game for the Packers, but in a season filled with humbling moments, who knows what might transpire.
“Tired of losing,” expressed veteran running back Aaron Jones. If this is getting to arguably the happiest guy in the locker room, you know it’s dire. “It gets tough, repetitive. We have to stay positive. I need to keep these guys together, and we will find ways to win.”
But it won’t be like this. The Packers committed 11 penalties for 99 yards against the Vikings and failed to score a touchdown in the first half for the fifth consecutive game. The Vikings had 13 first downs before the Packers even managed one, and the fans expressed their frustration with a Bronx cheer when the home team finally moved the chains with just over 4 minutes left in the first half.
Matt LaFleur inherited a flawed roster from General Manager Brian Gutekunst. There’s a lack of experience at wide receiver and tight end, making it challenging to evaluate Jordan Love in his rookie season as a starter.
While some growing pains are expected from Love, there have been far too many lows and not enough highs since his promising start to the season. He orchestrated only two scoring drives for a total of 10 points in 10 series against Minnesota. The one “wow” throw came in the middle of the fourth quarter when Love completed a pass to rookie receiver Dontayvion Wicks on third-and-7 despite heavy defensive pressure. However, a promising drive fell apart in the red zone five plays later due to three consecutive incomplete passes from Love, including a critical drop by Wicks on a slant route.
“Clearly not good enough,” admitted Love. “It’s been, I think, pretty average to start. We have our ups and downs. Personally, it’s too inconsistent right now. I need to find consistency in my play, where I can make every play and make the right throws every time. It has to be more consistent from me, and that’s where I’m falling short right now.”
Meanwhile, LaFleur is also falling short in finding solutions. He refuses to use youth as an excuse, which is commendable, but it’s his responsibility to prepare the team each week, and he has failed in that regard over the past month and a half.
The Packers lack discipline in all aspects of the game and are struggling on offense, which is LaFleur’s area of expertise. His quarterback appears to be heading in the wrong direction. It’s undoubtedly tough to watch, and there’s little optimism that this viewing experience will improve anytime soon.